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UEFA Champions League Preview & Predictions: Group D winners and losers

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In a wide open group where anyone can advance, will the Bundesliga side find their way into the Knockout Rounds?

FC Porto v Desportivo das Aves - Portuguese Super Cup Photo by Carlos Rodrigues/Getty Images

The 2018-19 UEFA Champions League is upon us, and Bavarian Football Works is here for your preview and predictions. Our writers predicted the finish of the groups.

Find out who from Group D is advancing to the Knockout Rounds, who is heading to the Europa League, and who is going home between Galatasaray, Lokomotiv Moscow, Porto Schalke.

Winners: Porto

Porto’s summer went about how you would expect a transfer window to go for Porto. They sold several players for tens of millions of euros and brought in a lot of players for a fraction of that. Porto will count themselves a bit lucky that they’re in a group without any of the European elite. While it won’t be a cakewalk, they should win the group with relative ease. If they can get Moussa Marega and Vincent Aboubakar going in scoring goals, they could run away with the group. In recent years, we’ve seen Porto advance as far as the Quarterfinals of this competition. Can they find that magic again?

How did they qualify: Porto qualified directly into the Group Stage by winning the 2017-18 Portuguese Primeira Liga.

— Phillip Quinn

Runners-Up: Schalke

With an awful start in the Bundesliga, Die Königsblauen is reeling a bit. Schalke however, was granted a tremendous opportunity with its placement in Group D to be in a position to advance if it can right its ship. The pressure will be on Domenico Tedesco to solve whatever issues are going on internally and the 32-year old coach will have to rely on veterans like Naldo, Salif Sane, Sebastian Rudy, and Daniel Caligiuri to stabilize the defense and midfield, but Schalke’s primary issue is its offense. If Tedesco cannot find a way to get Mark Uth, Guido Burgstaller, or Breel Embolo on track, this could be a quick exit for the squad. Keep an eye on USMNT hopeful Weston McKennie as he should be included in some variation of Tedesco’s lineup over the course of the competition.

How did they qualify: Schalke qualified directly into the Group Stage by finishing in second place in the 2017-18 German Bundesliga.

— Chuck Smith

Europa League: Galatasaray

The last decade has seen Turkish teams fall from “European giants fear road trips there in the Champions league” to “they’re definitely in the competition this year”. It’s likely that Galatasaray is going to have their hands full with Lokomotiv Moscow to snag the spot that lets them drop into the Europa League. Galatasaray’s start to the season in the Turkish Super Lig has been great with three wins out of three. Their first group stage game in the Champions League is a massive one. With Lokomotiv going to Istanbul, if Galatasaray can’t take all three points, it could be a long group stage for them.

How did they qualify: Galatasaray qualified directly into the Group Stage by finishing in first place in the 2017-18 Turkish Super Lig.

— Phillip Quinn

Eliminated: Lokomotiv Moscow

Lokomotiv Moscow has a familiar name in former Schalke 04 man, Benedikt Höwedes, who will get a chance to suit up against his former squad. Given the relatively weak group, these teams could end up in any order, which would be fine with Lokomotiv Moscow, who will simply be looking to do anything to try and advance. Fedor Smolov will provide the attack, while Grzegorz Krychowiak and Anton Miranchuk will look to assert themselves in the midfield for the Russian side.

How did they qualify: Lokomotiv Moscow qualified directly into the Group Stage by finishing in first place in the 2017-18 Russian Premier League.

- Chuck Smith