Champions League – Week 1 Predictions (Groups A-D)

Robin van Persie

The return of the Champions League brings with it matches in Groups A to D, with most of the focus going to the Old Trafford meeting between Manchester United and Bayer Leverkusen, Bayern Munich beginning their title defense at home against CSKA Moscow and Real Madrid paying a visit to Galatasaray.

Other matches that should be quite interesting to watch will be in Spain between Sociedad and Shakhtar and it’ll also be intriguing to see if the arrival of Manuel Pellegrini will change anything for Manchester City in the competition they constantly fail in.

Manchester United vs Bayer Leverkusen

It’s been quite a while since these two clubs last met (11 years), but the superiority hasn’t changed. Manchester United might be far from full throttle at the moment, but they have enough talent through Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Marouane Fellaini to be more than enough for Bayer, who have had a strong start to the season in Germany with four wins in five matches, with Stefan Kießling and Sidney Sam scoring four goals each. However, their form away from home is hugely different than what we see from them at the BayArena, and shouldn’t be enough at Old Trafford.

Real Sociedad vs Shakhtar Donetsk

For both teams, the Champions League might be a way to forget about their struggles in their own divisions. Sociedad have won only once in the La Liga this season, and all of their impressive football and style from the Lyon Playoff hasn’t amounted to much. Shakhtar, after losing two key players this summer, still haven’t made it back to their regular form, currently sitting at fourth in the Ukraine, four points behind the leaders. Feels like a draw to me.

FC Copenhagen vs Juventus

A terrible start for the season in Denmark means Copenhagen don’t have much hope for their match against the Italian champions. Juventus aren’t a side to walk all over small teams in these kind of matches, but despite their draw at Inter on Saturday, they’re more than qualified to get themselves a comfortable win.

Galatasaray vs Real Madrid

Cristiano Ronaldo

The additions of Bruma, Felipe Melo, Umut Bulut and Aurelien Chedjou haven’t helped Galatasaray as they’ve won only one match out of four in the start of the Super Lig in Turkey. Real Madrid have been doing better, at least with results, although they didn’t look too impressive on their last visit to Istanbul. However, the fans aren’t enough for Gala to erase the quality gap between the sides, and Real will open with a win.

Benfica vs Anderlecht

Anderlecht are still looking for that Champions League which has been eluding them for so many years; however, the rise of Belgian football on the international level doesn’t translate all that well to the clubs in terms of Champions League success.. Benfica have lost once and drawn another match in the opening four, but they’re a much more talented side, who should get better as this season progresses, including winning at home against the Belgian champions.

PSG vs Olympiacos

Money is tight in Greece, which means the champions haven’t done anything special to strengthen the team in order to do better in the Champions League, but they have won all four matches in the league so far. PSG, as always, had a busy summer and are off to a sluggish start, although it’s impossible to ignore the quality and depth of the French champions, who should end up as winners in the UCL opener.

Bayern Munich vs CSKA Moscow

The Russian side is leading the league at the moment in Russia, enjoying a super strong start from Ahmed Musa and Seydou Doumbia. However, Bayern Munich are a very different story than Rostov and others, which means Pep Guardiola might still be frustrating many with his tactical changes at the club, but it shouldn’t prevent them from winning their opening match.

Manchester City vs Viktoria Plzen

Finally, it seems City have been drawn to a group they can qualify from, and even though they’ve been poor or simply disappointing when playing away from home in the Premier League, it’s hard to see that weakness translating to a competition they’ve struggled in for the last couple of seasons, facing a Czech side that doesn’t have much hope for finishing above last.

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