Preview: 2014/15 UEFA Champions League – Group Stage
Club Atlético de Madrid 60%
Juventus FC 65%
Olympiacos FC 55%
Malmö FF 20%
Club Atlético de Madrid, the Runner-up of last Edition, should be the favorite to advance, but not always the “surprises” (not a big one, in this case) that perform extremely well in a season, can repeat themselves in the following one: despite losing Thibout Courtois, Diego Costa and Filipe Luìs, who were all signed by for Chelsea FC, Atleti has a very good squad and has made the cover longer thanks to the additions of good players like Alessio Cerci, Antoine Griezmann and Mario Mandzukic, but it isn’t a giant like other clubs in this competiton, and probably they always need to play well in order to win. Diego Simeone is still the main strenght of this side, but he has to be very careful, because Juventus and Olympiacos can both be very dangerous, and Atlético is that kind of team that can defeat a giant, but could also be defeated by weaker teams.
Juventus can both beat the Spanish side and be beaten by Olympiacos, that should be, more or less, as strong as Galatasaray, which last season eliminated Juventus from CL, but the Bianconeri have the potential to advance: anyway the effects of the appointment of a new manager aren’t easy to be evaluated, considering that the team was strongly used to play with Antonio Conte’s style.
Olympiacos has a very large squad, and, in our opinion, is on the same level with teams like Galatasaray, Shakhtar Donetsk and Zenit, and it has concrete chances to qualify, surprising one between Juventus and Atlético de Madrid.
Malmö FF is the weakest team of this Group and it is the main candidate for the fourth place, also considering that a couple of its best players (Molins and Jonas Thern) are injuried; anyway in the Qualifying Rounds the Swedes proved to be very dangerous at home, reversing an away draw against FK Ventsplis, and two away defeat against AC Sparta Praha (4-2) and FC Salzburg (2-1), so they could make other teams drop precious points for qualification, and, if Olympiacos didn’t manage to collect points against Juventus and Atletico, could also think to end third and access EL Round of 32.
Real Madrid CF 100%
Liverpool FC 60%
FC Basel 1893 20%
PFC Ludogorets Razgrad 20%
This should be one of the closest groups: Real Madrid should boss it easily and Liverpool FC, that in our opinion in Europe isn’t at the same level with other giants, should end second without many difficulties.
FC Basel and Ludogorets should battle quite closely for the third place, but they, especially the Swiss side, could also cause few troubles to Liverpool.
SL Benfica 50%
FC Zenit Saint Petersburg 55%
Bayer Leverkusen 50%
AS Monaco 45%
This is one of the weakest and most balanced groups, any team could advance and any team could end on the bottom.
Zenit is maybe a little bit solid and experinced, but Russian teams are sometimes very unpredictable, while AS Monaco last season could have been a little bit favorite to win this Group, but in the Summer they lost few important players and now they’re maybe a little bit weaker than their opponents, but they have almost equal chances to advance.
Arsenal FC 65%
Borussia Dortmund 70%
Galatasaray AS 45%
RSC Anderlecht 20%
Borussia Dortmund and Arsenal, that are in the same group for the second year in a row, are favorite to advance, but we would say about them what we’ve already said about Atlético Madrid: they have good managers, they probably need to play well to win, but they aren’t giants and could be surprised by a little bit weaker team as Galatasaray.
Anderlecht is the main candidate for the fourth place, but if the Turkish side proved to be (much) weaker than last season and if Prandelli didn’t adapt to Turkish football, so not collecting points against Borussia Dortmund and Arsenal, the Belgians could think to end third and qualify for EL Round of 32.
FC Bayern Munchen 70%
Manchester City FC 60%
PFC CSKA Moskva 5%
AS Roma 65%
This is surely the hardest group, and it’s a very balanced as well.
CSKA should end on the bottom, maybe at 0, but could also make other teams drop few decisive points.
The battle for the first two places is very open and anything can happen: maybe Bayern is a bit favourite for the first place, or, at least, shouldn’t miss the second one, while Roma and Manchester City have almost equal chances to reach the Round of 16.
Manchester City FC is maybe a little bit stronger but AS Roma could surprise them: anyway the team that will end third in this group will be among the big favorites to win Europa League.
FC Barcelona 80%
AFC Ajax 20%
APOEL FC 20%
This should be one of the closest groups: FC Barcelona and PSG should advance without many troubles and fight for the first and second place, while AFC Ajax and APOEL FC should battle quite closely to end third and qualify for EL Round of 32.
Chelsea FC 75%
FC Schalke 04 55%
Sporting CP 45%
NK Maribor 25%
This isn’t a very hard group, anyway it’s quite balanced: Chelsea FC could be defeated by both FC Schalke 04 and Sporting CP, but should qualify without many troubles.
The German and the Portuguese teams will closely battle for the second place, and the direct confrontations will be crucial, anyway NK Maribor, that probably will end on the bottom, could get few points from them, points that could decide the race for the second place.
Sporting CP renovated a lot its squad after a bad period and now they field several young players: they ended the last Portuguese Championship in second place, but it’s quite hard to predict how they’ll perform in Champions League, in which Sporting CP is back after few years.
FC Porto 60%
FC Shakhtar Donetsk 60%
Athletic Bilbao 60%
FC BATE Borisov 20%
This is a very balanced group, we’d place FC Porto, FC Shakhtar and Athletic Bilbao on the same level, and the teams that will qualify could be uncertain until the last matchday,
FC Porto looks stronger than last Season after changing several players, while FC Shakhtar will have to play on a neutral Ukrainian venue, but now the players should have already got used to the new pitch and the attendance for CL matches should be high anyway.
FC BATE is quite unpredictable and could make few points: they won’t qualify for Round of 16, but could hope to an Europa League place if one of the other teams had a very disappointing campaign.