Champions League: Group A preview & predictions

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GMS Academy Member Brendan Bernegger casts his eye over Champions League Group A. 

Manchester United: Manchester United are looking to rebound after a dramatic exit to Real Madrid in last year's Champions League.

New manager, David Moyes, will partake in his first Champions League, and has huge expectations to live up to since Sir Alex Ferguson departed.

Manchester United have a much harder group than last year, and will be up against strong opposition. After qualifying with ease through the group stage last year, Man United will face the likes of Shakhtar Donetsk, Bayer Leverkusen and Real Sociedad.

The Red Devils have been quiet this transfer window as they have made no strong acquisitions despite their need for two midfielders. Manchester United should win their group, but they will need to be careful when they play Shakhtar away (October 2nd) and Bayer Leverkusen away (November 27th).

Shakhtar Donetsk: Shakhtar Donetsk had a good run in last year's Champions League and finished 2nd in a group that consisted of Juventus and Chelsea. They drew Borussia Dortmund in the round of 16 and lost 5-2 on aggregate.

Donetsk cruised through their league, and find themselves back in the Champions League. Despite having an easier group compared to last year, Donetsk lost some big names, as star players Fernandinho and Henrikh Mkhitaryan left. Despite losing two big names Donetsk replaced them by signing the likes of, Wellington Nem, Fred, Fernando and lastly Bernard.

I expect Donetsk to qualify to the next round but Leverkusen for sure will challenge them for that 2nd spot. Shakhtar face a tough test as they have to go to Manchester on the last match day.

Bayer Leverkusen: After missing out on Champions League football last year "Die Werkself" are now back. The 2001-02 Champions League runners-up are looking not to end up in Europa League like last year.

Leverkusen were active this transfer window as they signed some players. These include: Emre Can (Bayern Munich), Son Heung-Min (Hamburg), and Robbie Kruse (Dusseldorf).

Despite adding to their front line and midfield, Leverkusen lost defender Daniel Carvajal (Real Madrid) and mastermind winger André Schürrle (Chelsea). They have a great team morale and will keep up with Shakhtar in the race for 2nd, but Shakhtar should outmuscle them for that spot.

Real Sociedad: After a surprise fourth place finish in La Liga last year, and a playoff victory over Lyon, Real Sociedad find themselves in the Champions League.

Sociedad are captained by Spanish midfielder Xabi Prieto. The 30-year-old Spanish Midfielder has been with the club since he was 14 years old.

He was a key catalyst to Sociedad's fourth place finish. Despite losing centre-midfielder Asier Illarramendi to Real Madrid, Sociedad added Spanish midfielder Esteban Granero (on loan from Queens Park Rangers), and Swiss striker Haris Seferović, who scored an insane volley in the first playoff leg against Lyon.

Sociedad also have Carlos Vela up front who scored 14 goals last year in La Liga, and French midfielder Antoine Griezmann who scored an incredible goal as well against Lyon.

Despite having an abundance of talent, Sociedad will struggle among the likes of Man United, Donetsk and Leverkusen but should be congratulated for making the group stages.

Final Predictions:
1. Manchester United
2. Shakhtar Donetsk
3. Bayer Leverkusen 
4. Real Sociedad

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