This Thursday, the full draw of the group phase for the 2020/21 edition of the Champions League took place and there is a lot where to decline the thinking and critical judgment. On FC Porto’s way, the only Portuguese representative in the tournament, will be Manchester City, Olympiakos and Marseille. But there is much more to tell, right away, the reunion between Messi and Ronaldo.
MANCHESTER CITY, OLYMPIAKOS AND MARSEILLE ON THE “DRAGON’S” PATH
Wanted the destiny that, from pot 2, was one of the main candidates to get far in this edition of the Champions League to stand in the way of the Portuguese national champions.
Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, which counts with the Portuguese players Bernardo Silva, João Cancelo and Rúben Dias in its squad, will be, it seems, the most complicated opponent to overcome for Sérgio Conceição’s team.
From pot 3, the draw was slightly nicer, although Olympiakos, coached by the Portuguese Pedro Martins (besides having Rúben Semedo and José Sá in its ranks), has already proved all its quality in the big stages of European football and is an opponent to be taken seriously, especially for its collective value.
Finally, in the pot 4 came out the French of Marseille, curiously coached by André Villas-Boas, former FC Porto coach and confessed FC Porto supporter, who even confessed to feel a mixture of joy and sadness for facing his heartly team in the group stage of the Champions League.
RONALDO AND MESSI IN CONFRONTATION IN GROUP G
Among the list of candidates to figure in a hypothetical European final, Barcelona and Juventus stood side by side in Group G, where they will have a huge dose of favoritism against the competition that Dynamo Kyiv and Ferencváros will have to offer.
Besides the confrontation between the Spanish and Italian giants, one of the great attractions will be the reunion between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, who have not faced each other since the time when the Portuguese was defending the Real Madrid jersey in Spanish soil.
DISTINCT LUCK FOR THE PORTUGUESE
If in Group A, João Félix’s Atletico Madrid clearly gathers the favouritism with the European title holders Bayern Munich, to go through to the round of 16 (without ceasing the curiosity to understand what Lokomotiv Moscow and, especially, RB Salzburg might do), what to say about Luís Castro’s bad luck?
In Group B, the Ukrainians from Shakhtar Donetsk will not have an easy life even to fight for the 3rd place with Borussia Mönchengladbach. This considering that Real Madrid and Inter Milan will play the role of favorites and will go through to the Round of 16.
EXPECTATION ANALYSIS GROUP BY GROUP
- GROUP A (Atletico Madrid, Bayern Munich, Lokomotiv Moscow and RB Salzburg). Germans and Spaniards, in this order, with expectations of a free road to the last 16. I’m very curious, of course, to see the duels between Atletico and Bayern, but also the way the offensive Salzburg will fight against the two “sharks”.
- GROUP B (Real Madrid, Inter, M’Gladbach and Shakhtar). For the quality at Zidane and Conte’s disposal, Spaniards and Italians should not have problems to fight each other for the first two positions, and the 3rd place should be decided between Germans and Ukrainians – with a great balance expected in both games.
- GROUP C (FC Porto, Manchester City, Olympiakos and Marseille). First of all, the presence of three Portuguese coaches (Sergio Conceição, Pedro Martins and Villas-Boas) in the same group is something to highlight. The “dragons” should not have an easy task against Pep’s team, but they have enough conditions to fight for the last 16 with Greeks and French, which also may surprise.
- GROUP D (Liverpool, Ajax, Atalanta and Midtjylland). For the level presented in the last seasons, the “reds” should not struggle to win the group, but it will be interesting to see who, between Ajax and Atalanta, will be on top for the 2nd place – in the antechamber, I believe it will be the Italian team. Tough life for the Danish champions, in a group where a lot of goals are expected, given the offensive character of the teams.
- GROUP E (Sevilla, Chelsea, Krasnodar and Rennes). For the investment made in this last transfer window, the “blues” will be the favorites to win the group, but much attention to what Lopetegui’s Sevilla can do. Russians and French should fight for the 3rd spot, even if this is a group where I think there is a good dose of potential for surprises.
- GROUP F (Lazio, Borussia Dortmund, Club Brugge and Zenit). In theory, Lucien Favre’s Germans are in the “pole position” to finish 1st and secure the qualification without any major problems. A lot of curiosity to see how will Lazio behave in this return to the European elite, with Russians and Belgians fighting, predictably, for the 3rd place.
- GROUP G (Barcelona, Juventus, Dynamo Kyiev and Ferencváros). It is impossible to speak of “culés” and “Vecchia Signora” without remembering the clash between Messi and Ronaldo, besides the reunion of Pjanic and Arthur with their former teams. Huge dose of favoritism for the two “sharks”, with Mircea Lucescu’s Ukrainians holding some theoretical advantage to finish ahead of the Hungarians, who return to the “Champions” 25 years later.
- GROUP H (Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United, RB Leipzig and Basaksehir). This is a case to say “last but not least”. This is the one who will come closer to the so-called death group, with only two slots for three favorites (French, English and German). Not less important will be to mention that the bad luck smiled to the first time Turkish champions, who will definitly suffer in order to get some points in this group.