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UEFA Champions League Group F Preview: Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund, Inter Milan, Slavia Prague

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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 F.

Barcelona v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League Semi Final: First Leg Photo by Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images

Barcelona (by Ineednoname)

Who are they?

A small local team from Catalonia. They have this guy Lionel Messi who’s rather decent at football. Not much else to say, really.

How’d they get here?

Because Real Madrid were terrible last season, and Atletico Madrid had their own share of problems, Barcelona won La Liga and hence qualified to the Champions League in Pot 1. However, that doesn’t tell the full story. The Catalans were plagued by tactical problems last season, often being bailed out by individual brilliance alone — a phenomenon that will be familiar to any Bayern Munich fan that remembers Carlo Ancelotti.

Ernesto Valverde, despite winning the double in his first year and a league title in his second, is struggling to show that he is the right man for Barca. Often criticized as being “too defensive”, his approach has been blamed for Barca’s humiliating capitulations to AS Roma and Liverpool in the Champions League. However, he seems to have the backing of the board, and got a number of new signings to bolster the squad.

Time will tell whether that’s going to be enough.

Player to Watch

Aside from Messi? Frenkie de Jong. De Jong wowed audiences with his stellar performances for Ajax last season, but he’s had it rough at Barcelona thus far. Ernesto Valverde has yet to play to the strengths of his squad, and de Jong doesn’t seem up to speed with the level of play seen in La Liga. De Jong is meant to be Barca’s midfield linchpin this season, so his performances could make or break the team.

CA Osasuna v FC Barcelona - La Liga Photo by Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Borussia Dortmund (by Chuck Smith)

Who are they?

Borussia Dortmund is an extremely talented and deep squad that could be poised to make some noise in the Champions League this season. Led by Marco Reus, the BVB roster is loaded with talent. Jadon Sancho, Paco Alcacer, Julian Brandt, Nico Schulz, Mario Gotze, Mats Hummels, Axel Witsel, Julian Weigl, Thomas Delaney, Manuel Akanji, Lukasz Piszczek, Raphael Guerreiro, Roman Burki, and Jacob Bruun Larsen represent a wealth of talent for Lucien Favre to work with. Even with Thorgan Hazard injured, this team is ready to do battle.

How’d they get here?

Borussia Dortmund qualified for the Champions League by virtue of its second place finish in the Bundesliga.

Player to Watch

Marco Reus. Like it or not, Borussia Dortmund is likely going to only be as successful as its captain. Reus is, by far, the most integral part of the team. Even with Jadon Sancho’s emergence over the past two season, it is still Reus who is the engine behind the Borussia Dortmund attack. The BVB rosters takes its cue from Reus and there may not be another another player who is universally as respected on his team’s roster in the Bundesliga — or in this group — as Reus is by the Dortmund players. If Reus is successful on the pitch, Dortmund’s overall team should follow suit.

1. FC Koeln v Borussia Dortmund - Bundesliga Photo by TF-Images/ Getty Images

Inter Milan (by Fergus)

Who are they?

Not so long ago, they won the CL and were Serie A champions for four consecutive seasons! However, Inter Milan are a team who may have gained a reputation as fallen giants in recent years. Although, it appears that their slump which has plagued them since the start of the 2010’s has ended, and the Italians now have a strong, functional side.

Under their new manager, the world class Antonnio Conte, Inter have already made significant improvements. In addition, the new signings of Romolu Lukaku, Diego Godin and Alexis Sanchez are sure to help the side. These new players, adding to the established core of Lautero Martinez, Milan Škriniar, Samir Handanovic, Marcelo Brozovic and countless others, are sure to make a top-class outfit that any team would have struggle beating.

How’d they get here?

Inter qualified in dramatic circumstances. A narrow fourth place finish in the league which came down to the last match day in terms of European qualification. It will be all the more sweeter for Inter fans worldwide, that the fifth place team was their city rivals, AC Milan. Whom finished a close one point behind their enemies.

Player to Watch

Milan Skriniar. The Slovakian powerhouse of a man will be crucial to any hopes Inter have of progressing in Europe’s premier competition. The rock in the back line commands the Inter defense with his leadership, no-nonsense style of play and defensive qualities. Skriniar will be especially important given that Inter look to be deploying a 3-5-2 formation this season, a primarily defensive formation in which players like Skriniar will be making the difference. Last season, Skriniar was easily one of Inter’s best and if he continues his imperious form, even the most seasoned attackers will not find a way through him.

Milan Skriniar of FC Internazionale in action during the... Photo by Marco Canoniero/LightRocket via Getty Images

Slavia Prague (by Miran)

Who are they?

Slavia Prague is one of the oldest football clubs in the Czech Republic. They were founded in 1892 years ago as ACOS (Akademický cyklistický odbor Slavia). Alongside Sparta Prague who is their biggest rivals, Slavia is the team with the most trophies in the Czech Republic. Their first qualification to the group stage of Champions League was in 2006/07 season and the second qualification came 13 years later — for 2019/20 season.

How’d they get here?

Slavia Prague won their domestic league and had to go through Champions League play-offs and there they were drawn against Romanian side CFR Cluj who they won 1:0 in both matches.

Player to Watch

Slavia Prague had the leagues best defending and attacking record. But they were particularly stable in defense and it could be all thanks to Tomas Soucek. The defensive midfield played a huge part last season and is capable of scoring/assisting, but he is mainly there to help his team’s defense.

Chelsea v Slavia Praha - UEFA Europa League Quarter Final : Second Leg Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Predictions

Phillip Quinn, Yams, John Dillon, Josh Tobolt, Jake Fenner, MiranKoFCB, Fergus Tong, Ineednoname, Chuck Smith, Brian Burton, Mike Lynch, Callum Seniuk

1) Barcelona, 2) Borussia Dortmund, 3) Inter Milan, 4) Slavia Prague

Ryan Cowper

1) Borussia Dortmund, 2) Barcelona, 3) Inter Milan, 4) Slavia Prague

Logan Chugg, Gopika, Marcus Iredahl, Tom Adams

1) Barcelona, 2) Inter Milan, 3) Borussia Dortmund, 4) Slavia Prague