Champions League Group B preview: Bayern Munich to top, Tottenham to finish runners-up

Sooraj Kamath - Writer 22:01 17/09/2019
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I like what I see: Niko Kovac.

The top 32 teams from all of Europe are set to begin their quest for Champions League glory.

Given the competition is stacked with quality teams that are looking to make an early impact, there’s reason to be thrilled about the start of this season’s tournament.

We take a look at all the groups and make a prediction on the final standings. Here is Group B …

Bayern Munich (Germany)

Lewandowski

Manager: Niko Kovac

The Bavarians have been one of the most consistent teams in the Champions League in the 21st century. The last time they failed to make the knockouts was back in the 2002/03 edition when they did not win a single game in a group that also comprised Deportivo La Coruna, Lens and AC Milan.

Bayern were last crowned champions in the 2012/13 season after defeating rivals Borussia Dortmund in the final. Ever since, they have been bested by Spanish clubs, being eliminated by Atletico Madrid and Barcelona once and three times by Real Madrid. Last season they were sent packing in the last-16 by eventual champions Liverpool.

Bayern were active in the transfer market, roping in Lucas Hernandez, Philippe Coutinho, Benjamin Pavard and Ivan Perisic among others. Expect them to be a force to be reckoned with yet again. The tie against Spurs could be the decisive one in the group. Bayern are also much more consistent against weaker opposition than Spurs are and this could help their case.

Key player: Robert Lewandowski

Tottenham (England)

Son Heung-min and Harry Kane

Manager: Mauricio Pochettino

The runners-up of the 2018/19 season of the Champions League will look to better their performance last season and go all the way at Istanbul.

The North London side reinforced their weakest area from last season; the midfield. Giovani Lo Celso and Tanguy Ndombele were roped in to add depth in the centre of the park. While the former is slowly being eased into the starting line-up, the latter is already standing out as a key figure.

Spurs have not had a rosy start to their Premier League campaign, winning just one of their four games and are ninth in the table. But they have been resolute with their approach to European games in the past, as evidenced by how they qualified from a group that included Barcelona, Inter Milan, and PSV Eindhoven last season.

It’s only recently that the North London side have established themselves as regulars in the Champions League. This will be their fourth consecutive appearance in Europe’s top competition.

Spurs are an unpredictable side; they have the potential to shock the absolute best of Europe but can also falter in simpler games. Their performance against Olympiacos and Red Star Belgrade could determine whether they will win the group, given Bayern rarely slip against these teams.

Key Player: Harry Kane

Olympiacos (Greece)

FBL-EUR-C1-OLYMPIAKOS-BARCELONA

Manager: Pedro Martins

Having qualified to the group stage by making it through three rounds, Olympiacos will be an interesting team to watch. The Greek side finished second in the league last season and had to defeat Viktoria Plzen, Istanbul Basaksehir and Krasnodar to make it to the last-32.

That they conceded just one goal and scored 13 in the six games shows that there is no room for complacency from the big teams in this group. The last time they featured in the competition (2017/18), Olympiacos famously held Barcelona to a goal-less draw at home.

The Greek side usually features in the Europa League and a berth in the last-32 of the competition following a third-place finish in the group stage will be a good result. But the long-term injury to star player Konstantinos Fortounis is a concern.

Key player: Mady Camara

Red Star Belgrade (Serbia)

Red Star

Manager: Vladan Milojevic

Last season, Red Star Belgrade managed something very few teams in the Champions League and Premier league did – inflict defeat on eventual European Champions Liverpool. Sadly, that was their only win of the group stages as they finished fourth.

The Serbian side edged Sudava Marijampole and HJK Helsinki by one-goal margins in the first two qualification rounds, before defeating Copenhagen on penalties and Young Boys on away goals to qualify for the main event. That they made it to the group stages two years in a row says a lot about their conviction.

Belgrade are undoubtedly the minnows of the group but they could complicate matters by surprising a big team in front of their intimidating home crowd. The Serbian side did so last season and Liverpool would surely acknowledge their ability to spring a surprise.

Key player: Milan Pavkov

Prediction:

1. Bayern Munich

2. Tottenham

3. Olympiacos

4. Red Star Belgrade

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