The Champions League is finally back. Four months after Liverpool lifted the trophy for the sixth time, 32 teams are ready again to battle it out, to see who is the best team in Europe.
In this article we will make some Champions League predictions: who will be the eventual winners, the ‘dark horses’, the team that disappoints and the overall top goalscorer.
Of course, as with any prediction, it may go completely wrong, but it always fun to see how it pans out.
Eventual winners- Manchester City:
Pep Guardiola has the best team in Europe, we saw that as his team accumulated 98 points in the Premier League last season.
Last weekend Norwich sprung a surprise in their 3-2 win, but that should not dissuade you from the chances that Manchester City have of winning the Champions League.
Their group is easily negotiable, and they should comfortably finish top, which would most likely set up a round of 16 tie with either Juventus or Atletico Madrid. A boost for City going into the Knockout phase is that Aymeric Laporte should have recovered from his injury by then.
The only reasons for Manchester City not winning the Champions League this season, is that this team have never got past the quarter-final stage. Last season they lost to Tottenham in the most dramatic fashion in the quarter-finals, so there may still be a mental block there. However, Guardiola has won the Champions League before, so surely it must only be a matter of time until he wins Europe’s top trophy with Manchester City.
Dark Horses- RB Leipzig:
The German club currently sit top of the Bundesliga after four games, drawing 1-1 with Bayern Munich last Saturday. This is the club’s first season in the Champions League, but do not expect them to merely make up the numbers.
Their team is stacked with talent: Ibrahim Konate and Nordi Mukiele in defence, with Marcel Sabitzer and Emil Forsberg in midfield, and the pacey Timo Werner up front.
Their group contains Lyon, Zenit and Benfica. Whilst no game will be a certain victory, they can go into every match with a realistic chance of three points. If Leipzig were to make it through the group they would face one of Chelsea, Ajax, Valencia or Lille in the Round of 16, where they would again fancy their chances.
If Leipzig can progress and get a favourable draw in the Round of 16, then who knows how far they can go?
Top Scorer- Aguero:
Assuming Manchester City win the competition, they will play 13 games in total. If Aguero is leading the line for them, expect him to bag a dozen goals in total. Probably most of these will come in the group stage, but his goals in the knockout rounds will be crucial to Manchester City lifting the Champions League.
Last season, Aguero scored six goals in the Champions League, averaging a goal every 85 minutes.
What’s more, is that Aguero is Manchester City’s designated penalty taker, so he is likely to score a few penalties.
Biggest flops- PSG:
Although PSG should make it through their group, containing Real Madrid, Club Brugge and Galatasaray, they may struggle to make it past the Round of 16. This summer has seen much unrest within the squad, following Neymar’s failed transfer to Barcelona.
The Parisian club have signed Mauro Icardi, who scored four goals in the Champions League last season, but I envisage them struggling against Bayern Munich or Tottenham in the Round of 16, especially if Neymar has moved on by then.