GMS Academy member Brendan Bernegger continues his analysis of each Champions League group. Here is his take on Group C...
Having gone undefeated in 28 league games, Benfica finally lost to Porto on the second to last match day. Porto scored a 90th minute goal and brought manager Jorge Jesus to his knees.
After losing to Porto, Benfica was beaten by Chelsea in the Europa League final as Branislav Ivanović scored a 93rd minute header to send the Portuguese team home without any silverware.
They also suffered a shock defeat as they lost in the final of the Portuguese Cup to Vitória de Guimarães as Vitória scored two goals in the last 12 minutes of play, making Benfica have a trophy- less season and come second in every major competition they took place in.
However, they are now back in the Champions League and are looking to rebound, and will be pleased to have been given a place in a group from which they should escape. Benfica have gotten off to a poor start this year as they have dropped points to Marítimo and city rivals Sporting.
Despite starting off to a shaky start Benfica have spent nearly €32 million on incoming players. Among these players are; Fillip Duričić, Miralem Sulejmani, and 19 year old Lazar Marković who Benfica paid €10 million for and is a hot prospect for the future.
Benfica held onto Ezequiel Garay and Óscar Cardozo. Garay was a once a target for Manchester United, and Cardozo got on Barcelona's wish list towards the end of the transfer window. Benfica open the campaign on the 17th at home when they welcome Anderlecht. On the last match day Benfica have a date with Paris Saint-Germain at home and that could decide the winner of the Group. I do expect Benfica to finish second in their group.
PSG come into the Champions League this year with a squad that has a lot of depth and could go far. They really splashed out the cash this year as they signed three marquee names. First, Paris signed Edinson Cavani from Napoli for a €63.3 million fee.
This fee makes him the sixth most expensive transfer ever. Cavani will team up front with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and former teammate Ezequiel Lavezzi and lead a star studded attack force.
PSG then signed French youngster Lucas Digne. Digne is a 19 year old prodigy who will be a big name in a couple of years. He joined from Lille for a fee around €15 million. Lastly, Paris signed Roma centre back Marquinhos for €35 million.
Similar to Digne, Marquinhos is a 19 year old and he's a name for the future. Marquinhos only played one year at Roma, but caught the eye of various big teams in Europe. I think PSG have an exuberant team that could easily make the semi-finals. Expect PSG to win the group.
After winning the league title by a 15 point margin, Olympiacos return to Europe's big stage for a third straight year. Olympiacos are led by goal-scoring machine Rafik Djebbour. The 29 year old Algerian scored 22 goals in 36 appearances for Olympiacos.
They also have European veteran Javier Saviola in their squad. The 31 year old Argentine was a huge part in Sevilla's 2005-06 UEFA Cup victory. Despite not having a glamorous squad, playing at Olympiacos isn't easy.
Last year Arsenal succumbed to defeat in Piraeus. Olympiacos welcome hot favourite Paris Saint Germain on the first match day of the year and will have their hands full with the Parisian club. Olympiacos should comfortably finish third.
The last team to complete Group C is R.S.C. Anderlecht. The 32 time Belgian champions finished in last place in their group last year, and are expected to do the same this year.
Anderlecht lost striker and leading goal scorer Dieumerci Mbokani to Dynamo Kiev. They will now have to count on striker Matías Suárez more than to get goals. Suárez has a huge weight on his shoulders and won't be able to do the same. Anderlecht travel to the Portuguese capital on the 17th of September as they play Benfica. Expect Anderlecht to crash and burn early.
Group C prediction
1. Paris Saint Germain
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