After the Champions League group stage draw was made last Thursday, group B looks an intriguing draw.
So, here's an early analysis of the group:
After crashing out last year in the semi-final, Real Madrid will try to avenge last year’s performance. Madrid find themselves once again in a tricky group. After finishing second in a group with Borussia Dortmund, Manchester City and Ajax last year, Madrid are up against competition just as hard.
As they were drawn in a group with Juventus, Galatasaray, and Copenhagen, Madrid did a great job in the transfer window as they got rid of some excess players and added some new faces to the squad. Among those new faces is Gareth Bale. The Welsh wizard joined Madrid for a world record fee.
Bale will add a spark to the team and could be the missing piece for Real Madrid's 10th Champions League title. In addition to Bale's arrival, Madrid has Carlo Ancelotti at the helm. Ancelotti is most noted for leading AC Milan to two Champions League titles and will provide the tournament experience needed for lucky number 10.
Madrid open their campaign on the 17th of September in Turkey against Galatasaray. Madrid seem to be the clear cut favourites to win the group, but they will need to put on a solid performance week in, week out.
After a quarter-final exit against Bayern Munich last year, Juventus are back in the Champions League. The Italian giants are in a group of similar strength like last year, and will most likely escape their group.
Yet, they should be wary of Galatasaray, who are also looking to escape group B. Juventus did strengthen their team as they added Champions League veteran and troubled striker Carlos Tevez. The Argentine striker had a turbulent time in the Premier League and is looking to redeem himself in Serie A.
In addition to Tevez, Juventus has also acquired the services of Angelo Ogbonna. Ogbonna has made six appearances with the Italian national team and joined from. Juventus could easily be a team that makes it to the semi-finals as they have the perfect amount of experience mixed with young blossoming talent. Watch out for Paul Pogba this time around as he could have a break out year. Juventus open their campaign on September 17th against FC Copenhagen.
Galatasaray find themselves back in the Champions League after losing to Real Madrid in the quarterfinals last year. Galatasaray welcome Real Madrid on the first match day. Last year Real defeated Galatasaray 5-3 on aggregate.
Galatasaray was relatively quite this year in the transfer market but they did sign Felipe Melo permanently after he was on loan for two years. Despite not getting anybody new, Galatasaray still have one of the deadliest strikers in Europe in Burak Yilmaz.
In last year’s competition, Yilmaz scored eight goals and was tied for third top goalscorer in the competition. Galatasaray also has Champions League legend Didier Drogba who may be in his last year with the club. Drogba seems to be pondering a move to the MLS and may leave sometime in February or March. Galatasaray is a great team but it seems like this year it's the Europa League.
The final team of Group B is FC Copenhagen. Copenhagen is back after a two year hiatus. Last time around, Copenhagen finished second in a group that consisted of Barcelona, Rubin Kazan, and Panathinaikos.
Copenhagen played Chelsea in the round of 16 before losing 2-0 on aggregate. Copenhagen has their former skipper Ståle Solbakken, who led them to their second place group finish, and round of 16 place. Copenhagen lost top scorer Andreas Cornelius, who transferred to Cardiff City over the summer.
I don't really expect much from Copenhagen this time around but they do have a very experienced defence which includes Lars Jacobsen and Olof Mellberg. Jacobsen had spells with Hamburg and West Ham. Mellberg has made 117 appearances for the Swedish national team and over 230 appearances for Aston Villa over a seven year span.
1. Real Madrid
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