This page contains a preview of each of the 8 Champions League groups as a build-up to the kickoff of the group stages on Tuesday, 18th September, 2007. In addition, there’s a PDF file that provides detailed statistics on each club taking part (courtesy of our friends at Infostrada Sports) and in the future I’ll be adding previews to the knockout stage matches as well.
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Champions League Group Stage Preview:
Premier League giants Liverpool take on Porto, Marseille and Besiktas in Group A of the 2007/2008 Champions League. There isn’t much history between these clubs which makes this a fascinating and somewhat unpredictable group.
Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea take on Valencia, Schalke and Rosenborg in a tricky group. Rosenborg are unlikely to be more than spectators but both Schalke and Valencia will be fighting hard for qualification and matches between these two sides could easily be the highlight of the group.
Chelsea vs Valencia also promises to be a tasty fixture, and overall this group will have good football to watch and will definitely be more interesting than Group A.
In Group C, Real Madrid take on Werder Bremen, Lazio and Olympiakos in a very competitive and open group. While Real Madrid will be expected to qualify as group winners, any of the 3 remaining teams could end up as #2, even Olympiakos (although that’s an outside shout).
The big tussle will be between Lazio and Bremen and both clubs are capable of beating Real Madrid at home.
Group D sees two rivalries from the last season resurrected as Benfica and Celtic meet again in the group phase and Celtic come face to face with last season’s 2nd round opponents and eventual winners AC Milan.
While you’d expect Milan to top their group it’s by no means a guarantee, especially with Ronaldo injured. Any of the three teams could win the group – the only sure thing is that it will be fiercely contested and a close thing at the end.
Milan, Celtic and Shakhtar Donetsk have featured in the group stages together once before in the 2004/2005 Champions League.
Barcelona are favourites to win in a group that includes French champions Lyon, German champions Stuttgart and Rangers. Lyon’s aura has diminished in the past two seasons and I don’t see them as a sure bet for qualifying out of this group.
Stuttgart could be a surprise package this season – and as far as Rangers are concerned, I’d like to see them do well but it’s unlikely considering the opposition they’re up against.
Group F sees Manchester United go up against Roma, Sporting Lisbon and Dinamo Kiev. It’ll be interesting to see the Man Utd – Roma rivalry from last year play itself out and you can bet your house on it that Roma will be an improved side to what we saw last season (throughout the season and not just from Old Trafford).
In fact, if Manchester United can’t get their goals (and they’ve struggled to do so this season), Roma can easily pip them to 1st spot.
Group G sees Serie A’s run-away champions Inter Milan take on PSV Eindhoven, CSKA Moscow and Fenerbahce. It’s not an ‘easy’ group but one that a top team like Inter Milan should safely negotiate, except that they showed an annoying tendency last season to slip up at the most inopportune of times.
CSKA’s experience from last season will serve them well this time around, and they can give PSV a run for their money for the 2nd spot.
The Arsenal – Sevilla matches will be a delight to watch, although both teams should have no trouble in qualifying from Group H.
The big question here will be whether Arsenal or Sevilla qualify 1st from this group – and we might not have to wait long for an answer with Arsenal facing Sevilla at the Emirates for the first game.
2007/2008 Champions League Club Statistics
Please download the Champions League 2007/2008 Guide – a comprehensive look at the players and historical records of the 32 clubs involved in this year’s premier European competition. It misses some transfers conducted at the fag end of August, but is otherwise accurate.
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