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 H is advancing to the Knockout Rounds, who is heading to the Europa League, and who is going home between Juventus, Manchester United, Valencia, and Young Boys.
Juventus made the Cristiano Ronaldo move solely for the Champions League. With Ronaldo, Mario Mandžukić, Paula Dybala, Douglas Costa, and Federico Bernardeschi among others powering the offense and the likes of Emre Can and Miralem Pjanic patrolling the midfield in front of Giorgio Chiellini, Alex Sandro, Leonardo Bonucci, and the rest of the defensive corps, Juve should be among the favorites in the competition. The team has scary potential in this format. The biggest question about The Old Lady is if goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny can withstand the pressure and hype of a UCL run.
How did they qualify: Juventus qualified directly into the Group Stage by winning the 2017-18 Italian Serie A.
— Chuck Smith
Valencia seemed to have found the right formula to challenge La Liga’s old guard last campaign, but sputtered out as Barcelona consolidated their power at the top of the table. After a tumultuous decade, which saw Valencia overcome a debt crisis, lose countless world-class players and managers and stumble in and out of the Champions League, Los Murcielagos have regained stability through intelligent loan moves and shrewd transfer dealings. The purchase of both Goncalo Guedes and Geoffrey Kondogbia who were key figures in on loan last season, as well as the addition of Kevin Gameiro and former Borussia Dortmund loanee Michy Batshuayi on loan, put the cherry on top of a talented and relatively deep squad. Although Valencia have the talent to advance, their fate will likely come down to the form of Manchester United. Jose Mourinho’s team has not had the smoothest start to the season and speculation surrounding his future has began to become a distraction. Their loss may be Valencia’s gain.
How did they qualify: Valencia qualified directly into the Group Stage by finishing in fourth place in the 2017-18 Spanish La Liga.
— Ben Erwin
Europa League: Manchester United
Manchester United is going through some inner-turmoil (surprise!) under Jose Mourinho, but the Red Devils are undeniable talented. With world class players in the midfield and on the attack, Manchester United will be a formidable opponent for both Juventus and Valencia if it can hold itself together internally. Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford, Alexis Sanchez, and Romelu Lukaku are just a few of the marquee names who will be looking to make a UCL impact. The bigger question is whether the Luke Shaw-led defensive group can be sturdy enough to push the Red Devils past Valencia in hopes of securing second place in the group. Juventus may not be a realistic victim for Manchester United unless the Red Devils are at the top of their game.
How did they qualify: Manchester United qualified directly into the Group Stage by finishing in second place in the 2017-18 English Premier League.
— Chuck Smith
Eliminated: Young Boys
Switzerland’s Young Boys have one of the toughest draws in the entire field as it is group with three top-notch clubs. Nevertheless, Guillaume Hoarau and Christian Fassnacht will present a formidable challenge as offensive threats for Young Boys, while veteran midfielder Miralem Sulejmani will seek to provide a stable presence in the midfield. Young Boys have a mix of veteras and youth within their defensive corps that will surely be put to the test. Steve von Bergen, Gregory Wüthrich, Kevin Mbabu, and Loris Benito will be among the defenders tasked with attempting to slow down the squads in the group. It won’t be easy for the Swiss club.
How did they qualify: Young Boys qualified directly into the Playoff Round by winning the 2017-18 Swiss Super League, and they beat Dinamo Zagreb 3-2 on aggregate to advance to the Group Stage.
— Chuck Smith