GMS Academy Member Brendan Bernegger continues to assess every group in the Champions League. Here are his thoughts on Group D…
Bayern Munich: After completing their historic triple, Bayern Munich can't out do themselves much more. Bayern is one of the top, if not the top favourite, to win it all this year.
Bayern made their, already strong midfield, stronger by buying German wonder kid Mario Götze and former Barcelona player Thiago Alcântara.
New manager Pep Guardiola won two champions league titles with Barcelona, and is hoping to add a third to his resume by leading "Die Roten" to their sixth title. Guardiola is now getting the hang of things at Bayern and once he gets into full swing Bayern could easily defeat any side in Europe.
The only problem forThe Germans is their injury concerns. New signings Götze and Alcântara will miss the first game; however Alcântara is expected to return in November.
Bayern have a harder group than last year as they have the likes of CSKA Moscow, Manchester City and Victoria Plzen to deal with. the defending champions will open the campaign at home as they play their group and win it.
CSKA Moscow: After missing out last year CSKA Moscow are back in the Champions League. The Russian team won the league by a two point margin.
CSKA did well in the Champions League. In 2010, CSKA lost to Inter Milan 2-0 on aggregate in the quarterfinals. In that same year, saw Inter win the tournament by defeating Bayern Munich 2-0 in the final.
Moscow suffered a blow last Friday as Ivorian goal scorer Seydou Doumbia will miss the next six weeks of play. Doumbia spent pretty much all of last year injured. The Ivorian forward is a key component and without his presence his side will struggle.
CSKA have a strong midfield that includes Keisuke Honda, Alan Dzageov, Mark González and newcomer Steven Zuber; who came over from Grasshoppers Zurich over the transfer window.
CSKA tends to be a dark horse in the Champions League, I just think this year without Doumbia for most of the campaign they will finish third.
Manchester City: After a trophy-less season, Manchester City is craving some silverware.
The citizens have had bad luck in the Champions League as they have never gotten out of the group stages. This includes finishing third in 2011-12 behind Bayern Munich and Napoli, and last year finishing last in a group with Borussia Dortmund, Real Madrid, and Ajax.
City did some damage this transfer window as they spent over £90 million; signing Fernandinho from Shakhtar Donetsk for £30 million. 5 days later, City bought Jesus Navas for a fee believed to be around £14.9 million.
After losing Carlos Tevez to Juventus, City added Alvaro Negredo and Stevan Jovetic for a combined total of £42 million. The Blues are now coached by Manuel Pellegrini. The Chilean coached Malaga last year to the quarter finals. They were defeated in the Champions League by Borussia Dortmund in the dying seconds.
Pellegrini's men have a better chance than ever to get to the next round and break their European curse, they open their campaign in the Czech Republic against Viktoria Plzen on the 17th. The saying "the third time is the charm" applies to City this time around as I expect them to finish 2nd.
Viktoria Plzen: Similar to CKSA, Viktoria Plzen missed out on last year`s competition but are now back. Plzen finished third back in 2011 behind Barcelona and Milan. The Czech champions defeated NK Maribor in the playoff round to secure their group stage birth.
Plzen could have been drawn into one of the hardest groups possible as they encounter the Champions from last year, a talented CSKA Moscow team, and lastly big spending Manchester City. Plzen open up at home versus Man City. Expect the Czech team to struggle and finish last.
Group D Prediction
1. Bayern Munich
2. Manchester City
3. CSKA Moscow
4. Viktoria Plzen
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