Group C Predicted Finish
1. FC Barçelona (Spain)
2. Manchester City (England)
3. Borussia Mönchengladbach (Germany)
4. Celtic (Scotland)
Qualified automatically by winning La Liga.
Despite winning yet another Spanish title there was a bitter taste in the mouth of the Catalans as Barcelona failed to defend their European title. A semifinal exit to fellow Spanish side Atletico Madrid (who lost to crosstown rivals Real in the final) will surely motivate Luis Enrique’s men.
Barcelona are mostly unchanged from last season, only losing Dani Alves to Juventus and Claudio Bravo to Group C rivals Manchester City. Samuel Umtiti and Denis Suarez both joined Barca. The infamous Messi-Neymar-Suarez trio should be rolling full force and Barcelona are favorites to win the group and strong contenders to win the whole competition. Be sure to watch their home fixture against Manchester City, when Pep Guardiola returns to Barcelona.
Qualified to the playoff round by finishing 4th in the Premier League.
Pep Guardiola’s first season at the Etihad has gotten no small amount of news coverage, and you can expect plenty more for the Catalan. It seems clear that he has been brought into City to bring them success in Europe, something he brought to Barcelona and Bayern Munich (though no finals appearances with Bayern, a reason for his exit there).
His team seems well equipped to go far, having made it to the semifinals of last year’s competition without him (two dull games resulted in a 1-0 aggregate loss to Real Madrid). New addition Nolito from Celta Vigo shows promise and Claudio Bravo has proven himself already. An apparent resurgence from Raheem Sterling makes this City team look extremely dangerous. Both games against Barcelona will be good, and be prepared for the “Guardiola Returns to Barça” stories as that match comes closer.
Qualified to the playoff round by finishing 4th in the Bundesliga.
‘Gladbach don’t look like much at first glance, but have potential to compete in this group. You have to feel a little bad for Mönchengladbach, who drew Real Madrid and Manchester City last season and got Barcelona and City again this season. Expect them to be competitive at home, but away trips to Camp Nou and the Etihad won’t go so hot.
Qualified to the second qualifying round by winning the Scottish Premiership.
Brendan Rodgers will have two goals for this Champion’s League campaign; bring back fame to Glasgow and himself. Those who fought off the Euros and Copa America bug this summer may remember the embarrassing defeat to semi-professional Lincoln Red Imps of Gibraltar which raised serious questions about Rodgers. Celtic turned it around nicely to make it this far and their playoff round performance against Hapoel Be’er Sheva was admirable. Celtic sadly will be beyond their depth in this group, but could nip a few points away from their competition.
Stay tuned…Group D will come next.
Photo Credit: uefa.com