With the Champions League group stage draw being made yesterday, here's an analysis of groups A-D.
Manchester United are the stand-out favourites in group A, and only a poor run of form should stop them advancing to the knock-out stages. Real Sociedad are the team that I think will finish second in group A.
Despite losing their main man Asier Illaramendi to Real Madrid, Sociedad still have a solid side and they have started this season well in the Spanish League. Carlos Vela should be able to provide the goals they need to advance.
Shakhtar Donetsk have lost lots of their star players, including Willian and Fernandinho, but have signed Fred and Bernard meaning they are likely to be the closest challengers to Sociedad to advance along with United. The final team in the group is Bayer Leverkusen and although they have a good squad, I don't think they have the talent to challenge the other three teams and are likely to go out at the first hurdle.
Two of footballs biggest names occupy Group B and they are definite favourites to advance. Real Madrid have a team full of world class names and with the expected addition of Gareth Bale they are going to be one of the favourites to win.
If they can keep Cristiano Ronaldo fit and not become over confidant about winning, then Real Madrid should sail through at the top of the group. Juventus are the only serious challengers to Real Madrid and the additions of Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente will give them more goals.
The Italian side have got a centre back pairing of Angelo Ogbonna and Giorgio Chiellini, and a world class goalkeeper in Buffon and they should easily get into the knockout stages. Galatasaray had a good European campaign last season, and if they can keep Yilmaz at the club then him, Drogba and Sneijder could challenge Madrid and Juventus.
However I can't see them going through ahead of the other two. FC Kobenhavn are the final team in the group and only a miracle would see them advance. They will have a good time hosting some of the worlds best teams but they should make the most of it whilst they can.
Big spending PSG are the overwhelming favourites to top group C, and with a forward partnership of Edinson Cavani and Zlatan Ibrahimovich this should definitely happen. They only just lost out to Barcelona in the quarter finals last season, and I wouldn't be surprised if they made the semis this time around.
Benfica made the Europa League final last year and will be looking to advance to the knockout stages of this years Champions League.
They have a strong team with Rodrigo and Oscar Cardozo up front, and should be able to finish second behind PSG. Olympiacos may be able to challenge Benfica for second place with players like Javier Saviola, but I think they will fall just behind Benfica in third.
Anderlecht complete Group C, and even with a goalscorer like Mbokani, it is very unlikely they will be able to challenge the other three teams to advance.
Last season's winners Bayern Munich are clear favourites to win Group D and advance this year. They have lost Mario Gomez but have added young midfielder Mario Gotze to the side, but the rest of the side will be relatively the same to last year meaning they should challenge all the way again this season.
Manchester City will be looking to advance after having tough groups in the past, and this should happen. They have added the one player that they have been missing, a defensive midfielder, to their side in the shape of Fernandinho, and have also added Jesus Navas, Negredo and Steven Jovetic.
They may add to their squad before deadline day but City will be very confident of getting out of Group D into the knockout stages. CSKA Moscow are always good in Europe, but the potential loss of Honda to AC Milan will mean they are losing one of their main stars.
Teams will have to travel a long way to Russia to face CSKA though meaning this might give them an advantage. I do not think they have enough talent to challenge City or Bayern though. Plzen are a relatively unknown side from Czech Republic and many people feel they will struggle to score any points in this group.
However underdogs have performed well in the past so don't be surprised if Plzen cause an upset or two group D, but I don't think they have any chance of progressing past the group stage.
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