Monaco seek to bounce back and edge competitive group: UCL Group G preview
With the UEFA Champions League starting on Tuesday 12th September, ENRG Sport is previewing the famous European competition by analysing each of the eight groups, providing you with all the information so you know what to expect as the tournament progresses.
By John Menzies
Arguably the most competitive group of this year’s group stages is Group G, which consists of AS Monaco, FC Porto, Besiktas JK and RB Leipzig. Let’s rate each team’s chances:
Les Monégasques are favourites to top the group, following last season’s surprising Ligue 1 title victory. They lead home PSG and Nice and took the championship by eight points. The French club also had a successful Champions League campaign, knocking out the likes of Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund en route to reaching the semi-final stage of the competition, before being knocked out by Juventus.
There was much talk at the end of last season as to whether Monaco could keep ahold of their star players. But unfortunately for the French side, the likes of Benjamin Mendy, Bernardo Silva (both Manchester City), Tiemoue Bakayoko (Chelsea) and Kylian Mbappe (PSG) have all left for huge fees. Reinforcements were brought in, including Balde Keita, Youri Tielemans & Stevan Jovetic.
Following the departure of so many high-profile names, a lot of responsibility looks set to fall on the shoulder of forward Radamel Falcao. The Colombian has 7 in 4 so far this season and also netted 21 goals in last season’s Ligue 1 title-winning campaign.
The principality club will be hoping to prove that last season’s run in the competition wasn’t a one-off and despite having many new players to gel together, Leonardo Jardim side are expected to qualify from the group.
Tournament odds: 33/1
2003/04 winners Porto qualified for this season’s campaign by finishing 2nd in Primeira Liga last season, behind champions Benfica, which was disappointing for the Portuguese giants.
In last season’s campaign, they pulled off a stunning result in the playoff round, by defeating AS Roma 4-1 on aggregate, before progressing through the group stages, finishing second in Group G behind Leicester City. However, the Dragões were knocked out in the round of 16 by Juventus.
The Portuguese club had a very quiet summer transfer window, with their only signings being Oliver Torres, who joined permanently from Atletico Madrid following a loan spell last season, and goalkeeper Vana Alves. Outgoings included Andre Silva, who joined Italian giants AC Milan, and Ruben Neves, who left for English Championship side Wolves.
Much of Porto’s goal threat will be Vincent Aboubakar. The Cameroon international has 4 in 4 so far this season. He featured for fellow Group G side Besiktas in their Champions League campaign last season.
The Portuguese side’s passionate fans will be expecting Sérgio Conceição and his team to get out of the group but it is going to be far from easy.
Tournament odds: 66/1
The Turkish club will be hoping to do better than last season’s UCL campaign. They were knocked out at the group stages, finishing third behind Napoli and Benfica, despite finishing top of their domestic league, winning their 15th Süper Lig in the process.
The Black Eagles had a busy summer, with the likes of Pepe, Alvaro Negredo and Gary Medel, arriving from Real Madrid, Valencia and Inter Milan respectively, during the summer. Marcelo, who was one of the club’s best players last season, was sold to French club Lyon.
One player to look out for during the Turkish side’s campaign is Anderson Talisca. The Brazilian playmaker, who is on loan from Benfica, impressed for the Black Eagles during last season’s UCL campaign, which included scoring against his parent club. He also netted 13 times in the Süper Lig last season
Tournament odds: 150/1
UEFA Champions League new boys Red Bull Leipzig could be a team to watch during the group stages. The controversial German club qualified for their first campaign by finishing 2nd in the Bundesliga last season.
The new boys had to add quality in the summer if they wanted to compete in Europe and they seem to have done that, with the likes of Kevin Kampl, Jean-Kevin Augustyn & Bruma joining Die Roten Bullen in the transfer window.
Oliver Burke (West Bromwich Albion) and Davie Selke (Hertha Berlin) left the German club during the transfer window.
Despite being newcomers to the competition, RB Leipzig have the players to cause their group opponents lots of problems, and one of these is Timo Werner. The German international forward has netted 3 goals in 3 league games so far this campaign, whilst he alo netted 21 times last season in Ralph Hasenhüttl’s side’s remarkable run to the top 2 in the Bundesliga.
Hopes will be high in the camp that they can qualify for the knockout stages in their debut campaign.
Tournament odds: 50/1
John’s Group G prediction:
- RB Leipzig