The qualification period is over and now, it’s time to get back down to business with the group stage of the UEFA Europa League. As reported by BBC and UEFA the official draws have now been made, and as such, we feel as if it’s time to run through the draw and give our thoughts on the groups and who could progress.
Group A: Paris St-Germain, Real Madrid, Club Bruges, Galatasaray
This should be a really simple group, with PSG and Real Madrid easing through to the knockout stage. Club Bruges will put up a fight for third, but Galatasaray should book their place in the Europa League knockouts.
Group B: Bayern Munich, Tottenham, Olympiakos, Red Star Belgrade
This is an exceptionally difficult group, and we actually think that last season’s finalists Tottenham aren’t going to get out of it. We predict Bayern to go through as winners with Olympiakos making their presence known to the world.
Group C: Manchester City, Shakhtar Donetsk, Dinamo Zagreb, Atalanta
Manchester City will win this group pretty convincingly, but second place is going to be interesting. We’re backing newcomers Atalanta to get the job done with Shakhtar not being all too far behind them.
Group D: Juventus, Atletico Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen, Lokomotiv Moscow
Bayer Leverkusen are good, but they aren’t good enough to dethrone two of European football’s juggernauts on the world stage. We think Atletico will win the group, Juve will finish second without breaking much of a sweat, and Leverkusen will drop into the Europa League.
Group E: Liverpool, Napoli, Salzburg, Genk
Liverpool and Napoli will progress here, but in terms of third place, we actually think Genk are good enough to force the issue and make sure their European journey continues down in the Europa League.
Group F: Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund, Inter Milan, Slavia Prague
It’s quite clearly the group of death, and if Barcelona aren’t careful, they may not even get out of it. One of three big teams will not be competing in the knockout stage, and we’re actually going to go ahead and predict the shock by saying Dortmund and Inter will knock Barca down to the Europa League in one of the biggest shockers in years.
Group G: Zenit St Petersburg, Benfica, Lyon, RB Leipzig
This is a really fun group because these four clubs look pretty evenly matched to us. In what will probably be viewed as a bit of a shocker, we’re backing Lyon and RB Leipzig to edge into the next round with Zenit just about managing to keep their European hopes alive by making it into the Europa League.
Group H: Chelsea, Ajax, Valencia, Lille
Chelsea will not qualify from this group and while that may sound harsh, we just don’t think they’re good enough – not even to finish third. We think Ajax will win the group pretty easily, with Lille actually pipping Valencia to the post to ensure that the growth of French football continues.
Either way, we’re excited to see things get going.