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UEFA Champions League Group B Preview: Bayern Munich, Tottenham, Olympiacos, Red Star Belgrade

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In the Bavarian Football Works’ UEFA Champions League previews, we hit the important topics like who are these teams, how’d they get here, and what players you should keep an eye on. Next up: Group B.

FC Bayern Munich in Lederhosen Photo by Lino Mirgeler/picture alliance via Getty Images

Bayern Munich (by John Dillon)

Who are they?

Bayern Munich is our own favorite team! Bayern is the German Rekordmeister, Germany’s most successful and wealthiest club. The team this season is in the midst of its long-anticipated restructuring, but the process could not be completed this summer. Two of Bayern’s key attackers are on one-year loans, Ivan Perisic and Philippe Coutinho. And doubts continue to be aired about coach Niko Kovac. Bayern was knocked out by Liverpool, the eventual winner, last season in the round of sixteen. Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has sworn that such an early exit will not be allowed again.

How’d they get here?

Bayern roared back from a nine-point deficit to seize the league from Dortmund, clinching the Bundesliga title on the last matchday of the season. Having won the Bundesliga seven years running, it has been a very long time since Bayern was not in the Champions League.

Player to Watch

Philippe Coutinho was the superstar signing that the front office brought in to reinforce Bayern’s offense after the departure of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery, and to appease players like Robert Lewandowski who were clamoring for an established star who could help the team immediately. After negotiations for Leroy Sané were derailed by his injury, Coutinho was signed instead on a one-year loan. Coutinho can play both on the left wing, if necessary, and at the 10 behind the striker, his preferred position. That of course potentially puts him in competition with Thomas Müller, so all eyes will be on Kovac as he negotiates that quandary. If Coutinho flourishes, he could give Bayern’s offense a new boost.

FC Bayern Muenchen v 1. FSV Mainz 05 - Bundesliga Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images

Tottenham Hotspur (by Logan Chugg)

Who are they?

Tottenham Hotspur Football Club is one of England’s biggest clubs. Hailing from the Tottenham District in North London, Spurs have been playing since 1882. They have won the top-division twice, but the last title came in 1961. They were a founding member of the Premier League and have never been relegated from it. Their lack of trophies and losing big games in random, quirky ways have been coined as “Spursy”.

Today’s Spurs are proving to be a perennial force in England and in Europe. Harry Kane is arguably one of the most dangerous strikers in Europe. Heung-min Son, Deli Ali, and Erik Lamela are a great supporting cast in the offense. Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld tighten down the defense in front of World Cup winning goalie, Hugo Lloris. Although their roster is not full of household names, they work as a team

How’d they get here?

Spurs are coming off of arguably their best season ever. After being counted out numerous times by most, Spurs avoided elimination again and again to make it all the way to their first Champions League Final. Ultimately they fell to Liverpool 2-0.

Despite finishing as runners up in the Champions League, they didn’t secure a spot in this season’s Champions League until the second to last match-day of the season. They finished in fourth place, securing England’s last spot.

Player to Watch

Although Spurs have many weapons to watch out for, Lucas Moura came up big again and again in the Champions League last season. He scored a late-equalizer against Barcelona to clinch a spot in the knockout rounds. But his biggest moment came in the second-leg of the semi-finals against Ajax in Amsterdam. Down 3-0 on aggregate at halftime, Lucas put the team on his back and scored a hat-trick to put Spurs through to the final on away goals. Look out for him to carry some of this magic over to this season’s Champions League.

Manchester City v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Olympiacos (by Phillip Quinn)

Who are they?

Olympiacos is the most storied club in Greek football history. They’ve won the Greek championship a record 44 times and the Greek cup a record 27 times. Their best run in the Champions League was a trip to the Quarterfinals twenty years ago when they were bounced out in the Quarterfinals.

Trips to Greece are never easy, even if the scoreboard tells you they are.

How’d they get here?

Olympiacos finished second in the Greek Superleague which dropped them into the Second Qualifying Round. However, they got to work and hammered not one, not two, but three opponents to make the group stage. First up, Viktoria Plzen lost 4-0 to Olympiacos. Then, in the Third Qualifying Round, Olympiacos beat Istanbul Basaksehir 3-0. Finally, in the Playoff Round, the Greeks pounded FC Krasnodar 6-1.

They had to earn their way here, so you can bet they won’t go down without a fight.

Player to Watch

In a likely battle for third place, Olympiacos is going to need some performance out of Kostas Fortounis. He led the club in goals and assists last season in Greece, and he’ll need to find his scoring boots again in Champions League games for Olympiacos this year.

Olympiacos v AC Milan - UEFA Europa League - Group F Photo by Dimitris Lampropoulos/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Red Star Belgrade (by Miran Kostic)

Who are they?

Red Star Belgrade (Crvena Zvezda) is without a doubt one of the biggest clubs in Serbian and ex-Yugoslavian history. They started playing in 1945, right before the end of the Second World War. They were formed in Serbia’s capital — Belgrade and are playing in one of the biggest stadiums in Eastern Europe known as Marakana named after the legendary stadium in Brazil, but it’s officially called Rajko Mitić. Their biggest European success was when they won the Champions league in 1991. They won the national championship 29 times and the national cup 24 times, making them the team with the most titles in ex-Yugoslavia’s history and Serbia as well.

How’d they get here?

Red Star won the league last season but still had to go through tough play-off for this season’s Champions League. They had a rocky path but, in the end, managed to beat HJK Helsinki (3:2), FC Kopenhagen (7:6 on penalties), BSC Young Boys (3:3, but went through thanks to away goals).

Red Star will definitely be no push-over (remember last year’s encounter with Liverpool), especially when they play on their home stadium.

Player to Watch

There are some outstanding players in Red Star — Probably the most famous one is Marko Marin, who you may remember during his time in Werder Bremen and Chelsea. He is the captain of Red Star and the most valuable player, according to Transfermarkt.

Crvena Zvezda v Young Boys - UEFA Champions League Play Off: Second Leg Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images

Predictions

Phillip Quinn, Ryan Cowper, Yams, Fergus Tong, Chuck Smith, Mike Lynch, Callum Seniuk

1) Bayern Munich, 2) Tottenham, 3) Red Star Belgrade, 4) Olympiacos

John Dillon, Josh Tobolt, Jake Fenner, MiranKoFCB, Logan Chugg, Brian Burton, Gopika, Marcus Iredahl, Tom Adams

1) Bayern Munich, 2) Tottenham, 3) Olympiacos, 4) Red Star Belgrade

Ineednoname

1) Tottenham, 2) Bayern Munich, 3) Olympiacos, 4) Red Star Belgrade