Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham saw themselves placed in Group B for the group stages of this seasons Champions League, alongside Barcelona, PSV and Inter Milan. Liverpool will also have their work cut-out for them drawing PSG, Napoli and Red Star Belgrade.
Manchester United are set to welcome Cristiano Ronaldo back to Old Trafford after they were grouped with Juventus, along with Valencia and Young Boys, whilst Manchester City face a relatively easier task in Group F.
Here is EPL EggHeads’ verdict on how the English sides will fair in the their respective groups.
Barcelona, Spurs, PSV and Inter Milan.
Although on the face of it this looks like it could be Spurs’ worst nightmare, we should bear in mind that this is their third Champions League campaign under Mauricio Pochettino, they would be a little less jittery this time around and a lot more confident.
Their win at home against Real Madrid was one of last season’s standout results. At some stage of your Champions League journey you are bound to face Barcelona – who I think Pochettino will be looking forward to given his history in La Liga.
PSV is an unknown quantity as you just aren’t ever sure which PSV arrives on the day. Inter will be a tough game, I know the Italians haven’t been at their very best but all of the signs point to a positive building to their former grandeur.
Another difficulty faced by Spurs will be their home ground situation, no it isn’t that big of a deal within the context of the EFL Cup, but this is the Champions League!
Prediction: Barcelona and Spurs to progress.
PSG, Napoli, Liverpool and Red Star Belgrade
This is an awkward draw for Liverpool, there are a couple tough games in this group but I wouldn’t brand it a group of death. The dark horse in this group is Napoli, they are looking good under new manager Carlo Ancelotti and they could make this group unpredictable.
There are nostalgic moments and a few historic indicators for the stargazers among us. The return of Red Star Belgrade sees a return for the last European side that the Liverpool legend Bill Shankly faced as a manager; Jurgen Klopp will also entertain a meeting with his Mainz successor Thomas Tuchel.
Prediction: Liverpool and PSG to progress.
Manchester City, Shakhtar Donetsk, Lyon and Hoffenheim
Beside the fact that Shakhtar Donetsk was the first team to beat City in any competition last season, this is a fantastic draw for the Cityzens. Yes, they would need to travel but all in all I think Pep Guardiola will be pleased with his draw.
Lyon and Hoffeinheim will be a well disciplined, good defensive side, but City will have the quality to break them down – and they know what to expect from Shakhtar Donetsk.
I think City will prioritise the Champions league this season (which could cost them in the League) and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them achieve 18 points.
Prediction: City and Shakhtar to progress.
Manchester United, Juventus, Valencia and Young Boys
There is caution with Manchester United, which makes their chances as well as Valencia’s 50/50.
Juventus are going all out to win the Champions League this season and with the acquisition of Ronaldo, would you really bet against them? Valencia was fourth best in Spain last season and seems to be on the up. Young Boys, with respect, should be the whipping boys of the group but don’t count out their Swiss brand of football causing an upset.
Manchester United should get through with Juventus, I just wish I had more confidence.
Prediction: Juventus and Manchester United to go through.