By TAYMOUR MOWAFAK
The 2014-15 Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Champions League kicked off on September 16 for the group stage matches. The 32 best soccer teams in Europe clash to prove themselves in the tournament, hoping to survive their group.
In Group A, all teams are at risk due to the unexpected tie between Athletico Madrid, Juventus, Malmo FF and Olympiacos FC. The teams who are expected to advance are Athletico Madrid and Juventus. In Group B, Real Madrid leads the group with 6 points followed by Liverpool FC and FC Basel, which each have 3 points. Real Madrid is expected to win the group, with Liverpool FC trailing behind. In Group C, both Monaco FC and FC Zenit are tied with 4 points, battling to capture first place in the group. In the group of death, Group D, Borussia Dortmund remains with a clean sheet followed by Arsenal FC. Galatasary has not given up hope and will attempt to fix its form and bounce back up. In Group E, the German champion Bayern Munich remains undefeated, while AS Roma and Manchester City strive to advance to the next stage. For Group F, Paris Saint-Germain surprisingly leads the group after a strong win against FC Barcelona. AFC Ajax still fights hard, hoping to become the powerful underdog that advances. On the other hand, Group G is maintained under the control of Chelsea FC, followed by a tie between FC Schalke and NK Maribor. Lastly, FC Porto and FC BATE Borisov have a close race in the top.
Champions League resumes with match day 3 on October 21. All teams are still alive and remain insecure in their current position, but all the predictions will be answered after match day 6, ending the group stages and advancing 2 teams from each group to the round of 16. The Champions league will last all the way until June, eliminating 30 teams having only 2 teams left for the final game in Berlin.
Who is expected to win? Since Real Madrid won the trophy last year with a memorable victory over its Spanish rivals Athletico Madrid, it is expected that the team might be able to repeat it once again with the addition of the new stars James Rodriguez and Chicharito Hernandez.
Nicholas Markle (Sr.) said, “There are many great teams this year, it won’t be easy for any of them. It is very hard to pick between teams like Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, and Chelsea. They are all great teams that have strong key players that can be game changers, but in the end, it comes down to luck”.
Bayern Munich suffered a major defeat last year from Real Madrid and has dedicated this year to winning it. The addition of Robert Lewendowski and Xabi Alonso to Bayern Munich strengthened the team’s loose ends from last year, hoping to improve on what they did back in 2013. FC Barcelona is a high match this year too for winning the trophy. Barcelona fan Justin Lin (Sr.) said, “We got unlucky last year, the squad was spectacular but the team wasn’t able to pull through. I believe that this year Messi and Neymar will prove themselves together and lead the team to victory.”