Reds Get Familiar Face in Group E as Van Dijk Crowned Best Player in Europe
Liverpool got another midweek victory tonight at the UEFA Champions League draw, as the Reds leave with a favorable group draw and a couple of illustrious awards. The Reds have been placed atop Group E, along with Salzburg, Genk and familiar foe Napoli.
This wonderful night started off with one bizarre speech from former France and Manchester United star Eric Cantanoa, but thankfully it was quickly forgotten. Lionel Messi won UEFA forward of the season, and Alisson Becker won UEFA goalkeeper of the season. Virgil Van Dijk grabbed UEFA defender of the season as well as UEFA Men’s Player of the Year, taking home the award from the world’s best; Ronaldo and Messi. Virgil is the first defender to ever win the honor. Then, the balls began spinning in the pots as the groups were about to be drawn.
Group A: PSG, Real Madrid, Club Brugge and Galatasaray
This group proves to be interesting with powerhouses PSG and Real Madrid going head to head, as well as being the clear favorites of the group to progress to the knockout stages.
Group B: Bayern, Tottenham, Olympiacos and Crvena Zvzeda
Bayern and Spurs are definite favorites in this group, with many new additions yet to really contribute at their highest levels. Olympiacos will be hoping to continue the good form and momentum gained by their trek through the qualifying rounds.
Group C: Man City, Shakhtar Donetsk, Dinamo Zagreb and Atalanta
Manchester City have been handed another favorable draw in the Champions League group stages, as they have been matched up with many lesser sides. It seems like every year they play Shakhtar, but that’s besides the point. City are overwhelming favorites and should cruise through as winners.
Group D: Juventus, Atletico, Leverkusen and Lokomotiv Moskva
Group D sees a rematch from last seasons round of 16 tie between Juventus and Atletico. It will be interesting to watch how each tea performs away from home to see who tops the group, but they just progress quite easily into the round of 16.
Group E: Liverpool, Napoli, Salzburg and Genk
The Reds have been handed a favorable draw in this seasons Champions League group stage, with the only seemingly tough task ahead is another matchup against Napoli. Napoli caused Liverpool many headaches last season and in this preseason, but the Reds should top the group with Napoli following them into the round of 16.
Group F: Barcelona, Dortmund, Inter and Slavia Praha
This group should be quite interesting, with many exciting match days ahead. Barca are the clear favorites but face tough tasks against a Inter side that will be much different to the one they faced last season after their makeover from new coach Antonio Conte, as well as a trip to the Westfalonstadion and the Yellow Wall of Borussia Dortmund. I like Barca and Dortmund to progress in this group, but it will be tight and fun.
Group G: Zenit, Benfica, Lyon and Leipzig
This is a group of favorably matched teams that should set up some interesting games ahead. That being said, I see Leipzig topping this group with Lyon following them into the round of 16.
Group H: Chelsea, Ajax, Valencia and Lille
Group H seems to be the Champions League’s “group of death”. Chelsea, Ajax and Lille are all in a sort of rebuilding mode after losing many of their stars to the transfer market this summer, but all with many players ready to make new impacts. Valencia seem to be the most seasoned side in this group, as I like them to top the group with Ajax following suit behind them poised after an impressive showing in last years tournament.