With only one day left, we’re covering the Groups E and F.
The current Champions League winners are one of the best teams in the world right now. They started this season in the way they finished the previous – with a winning mentality. With five victories in five matches they hold the first place in the league, and this year may finally be their year to win the Premier League. Klopp’s football based on gegenpress makes Liverpool one of the toughest opponents you can play against. This summer they didn’t buy any world-class player, because in the squad with the probably the best goalkeeper, defender and one of the best attacking trios in the world – you don’t need one. They just play amazingly at both ends.
Last season they had the most clean sheets (6) in the UCL, and the most big chances created (41). Their group consists of teams who play attacking football and should be exciting to watch. Surprisingly enough, last year it proved a bit difficult for them to pass the group after a 1:0 win against Napoli – whom they will face again this season. They have an extremely difficult task ahead of them – definding the title. Only Real Madrid managed to rewin it, we will see if this Liverpool is of that material.
The Italian side have never come further in the UCL than the round of 16. Ancelotti’s team play really attractive football, creating a lot of chances and scoring a lot of goals. Last season they were eliminated already in the group phase, where they were unlucky enough to draw PSG and Liverpool. This summer they brought several very experienced players (Llorente and Manolas) and talented ones as well (Lozano and Elmas). With Lozano and Llorente they boosted an already powerful attack, while Koulibaly and Manolas form one of the best centre-back partnerships in Europe. With their pace and creativity Napoli’s forwards are lethal in front of the goal.
This season there shouldn’t be a problem to pass the group. They showed us they know how to stop Liverpool, but matches against Genk and Salzburg will be the decisive ones.
The Austrian champions are in the Champions League for the first time since 1995. They have won their domestic league six times in a row and had solid results in the Europa League, but they always dreamed about the UCL. Salzburg’s youth academy is one of the best in the world, and every year their squad is made of extremely talented players, who have a bright future ahead of them.
This year their biggest stars are two youngsters born after 2000 – Erling Braut Håland and Dominik Szoboszlai. After seven games in the league they have seven wins and an amazing goal difference 34:6, so they can put their full focus on the Champions League. Their group is relatively hard, but with teams who play attacking football, they can look for their chances. First two places won’t be easy to catch, but the third place should be their imperative.
Last season Genk became the Belgian champions for the fourth time. They have a very young squad, with only three players younger than 28. This group of youngsters hope they can leave a mark in the UCL, which will welcome Genk for the third time. They will rely on their first striker Mbwana Samatta who started this league season with five goals in six matches. This season they have been really active on the market, and spent more than 30M euros on talented players like Hagi, Hrošovský and Bongonda.
In Mazzu’s favorite 4-3-3 formation, Sander Berge plays a crucial role. The Norwegian defensive midfielder is the most valuable player in the Belgian division and he’s only 21. They haven’t started their season all that well, and with only ten points in seven matches they hold the ninth place. It will be really hard to collect points against Liverpool and Napoli, but in the matches against Salzburg, who is on the similar level as they are, they can look for six points and the third place in the group.
Last two seasons Barça were stopped by their horrible performances in away games against Roma and Liverpool. This summer they strengthened their squad with several signings, with the most important being the arrivals of de Jong and Griezmann. With Suárez, Griezmann and Messi up front, Barca probably have the best attacking trio in the world. Their defense sometimes perform below expectations, which can dissolve the fantastic work from the attack. Their current form is unsteady, but it seems they play better against stronger teams.
Barça fans wait impatiently for Messi’s return, hoping he can repeat another outstanding season. They have a very hard group with young and talented Borussia and a regenerated Inter. They will have to put in maximum effort to pass the group. Their fans hope they learned from their mistakes and that this season they can lift the trophy for the sixth time.
In 2018/19 Bundesliga they were two points away from the title. This year they keep chasing Bayern, and on the other front, want to achieve a respectable result in the UCL. They did some fine business this summer, buying Hazard, Brandt and Hummels, who will improve team’s quality both offensively and defensively. Their main strength is efficiency, enhanced by creativity and pace. With so many quality options up front, like the super-talented Jadon Sancho and the goal-poacher Paco Alcácer, they are currently on the amazing 3.25 goals per game in Bundesliga.
In an easier group they would probably go through without many problems, but in this one, they will have to fight for it. They have the biggest chance at home, where, with the support of thousands of diligent fans, BVB can beat anyone.
Inter invested a lot of resources to rebuild their squad during this transfer window. First they made an agreement with Antonio Conte, who’s seen as a man to end Juve’s domination. In order to achieve this goal, they signed some first-class players like Godín, Lukaku and Alexis Sánchez. After three rounds they are the first in the league, and their fans are brimming with optimism. Their tactic is based on possession and a strong defense made by three fantastic centre-backs – Godín, de Vrij and Škriniar. Lukaku already scored twice and it looks like he’s ready to terrorize defenses. Just like BVB, Inter is unlucky to draw such a difficult group, but they are not outsiders. In a group like this, everything is possible.
The Czech champions will play in the Champions League for the second time. Last season they were one of the biggest surprises in the Europa League, where they came all the way to the quarter-finals. This season’s UCL draw was ruthless for Slavia. In the group with Barça, Borussia and Inter, they are 100% outsiders.
Slavia have a solid squad with well-known individuals such as Souček, Stanciu and Škoda. They will leave their heart on the pitch for sure and try to disrupt the big boys’ plans. In the end, their fans will have and opportunity to watch some of the best players ever at their stadium.