Saturday, February 13, 2016

UEFA Champions League draw: Group C analysis

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Paris Saint-Germain have made an even bigger step up in quality this season and are expected to top their group. Benfica should also progress, though Olympiacos will look to upset the Portuguese side. Sadly for Anderlecht, they could be propping up their group for the second year in a row.

Favorites: Paris Saint-Germain

Despite their shaky start to the Ligue 1 season, there's no doubt that Paris Saint-Germain are favorites to win this group. They were knocked out at the quarterfinal stage of the Champions League by Barcelona last season, and have strengthened their squad further this summer. Spending over €100 million, they've added Napoli's prolific forward Edinson Cavani to their strike force and Roma's young centre-back Marquinhos to their defence, after a brilliant breakthrough season in Serie A. Coach Laurent Blanc will be expecting his side to top the table, regardless of early teething problems.

Going Through: Benfica

Portuguese league runners-up Benfica were knocked out of the Champions League at the group stages last season, eventually progressing to the final of the Europa League before being beaten by Chelsea. They should fare better this season, and have an even greater incentive to -- the final is being played at their home ground in Lisbon. Having made some interesting signings this summer, including winger Miralem Sulejmani from Ajax and Arsenal de Sarandí's centre-back Lisandro López, they'll be expecting to progress in second place.

Europa League Bound: Olympiacos

More coverage
  • UEFA Champions League draw: Group A analysis
  • UEFA Champions League draw: Group B analysis
  • UEFA Champions League draw: Group C analysis
  • UEFA Champions League draw: Group D analysis
  • UEFA Champions League draw: Group E analysis
  • UEFA Champions League draw: Group F analysis
  • UEFA Champions League Draw: Group G Analysis
  • UEFA Champions League Draw: Group H Analysis
  • More soccer coverage from Philly.com
  • Olympiacos won the Greek Superleague last season and were extremely unfortunate to not make it through to the Champions League knockout stages. They finished third behind Schalke and Arsenal in Group B, thus being booted into the Europa League. Sadly, having been handed an arguably even tougher group this year, it's difficult to see them fairing any better.

    Dead Last: Anderlecht

    Anderlecht are historically the most successful Belgian team in European competition, and they won their domestic title last season. However, they failed to have an impact on their group and finished rock bottom. They're expected to suffer the same fate this time around.

    Best Player: Zlatan Ibrahimović

    Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimović hasn't scored a goal yet this season, though it won't be long before he breaks his duck. Zlatan's record since joining PSG is hugely impressive, finishing as Ligue 1's top scorer last season. With such an embarrassment of riches in attack, it's not clear how Laurent Blanc will construct PSG's strike force. However, with such great technical ability, Zlatan will be an instrumental part of it.

    Emerging Star: Lisandro López

    Young centre-back Lisandro López has already been capped by Argentina, and has made his move to Europe with Benfica this season. Reportedly subject to interest from several bigger clubs, it'll be interesting to see how he copes with the expectation and step up in quality.

    Must-Watch Game: Paris Saint-Germain vs. Benfica

    A predictable choice, maybe, but both of these teams have made some intriguing signings this season. Seeing how both gel should be very interesting indeed.

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    UEFA Champions League draw: Group C analysis

    This article originally appeared on SBNation.

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