UEFA Champions League draw: Group F analysis
Arsenal have been dealt the most difficult group of the English sides in the Champions League group stages, despite their status at top seeds, as they face a very well-balanced group involving Olympique Marseille, Borussia Dortmund, and Napoli.
This really is almost impossible to predict, and while Marseille may perhaps be seen as the weakest of the four sides, no combination of finishing places would be too much of a surprise. It's a tough test for all involved and will be fascinating to see how it develops.
Favourites: Borussia Dortmund
As finalists last year, Dortmund are probably the most-fancied team to go through here. They've lost Mario Gotze, but they still have an excellent team full of great players in pretty much every position and will be the ultimate test for all the other teams in the group.
Going through: Napoli
Rafael Benitez may have a questionable record, but Napoli will still probably be fancied to finish just ahead of Arsenal. With Gonzalo Higuain on their team, fate will be strongly in favour of him scoring against the Gunners, who came close to signing him, but unless Arsenal make some huge signings then Napoli simply have a better team at the moment. In this group though, nothing is for certain.
Europa League bound: Arsenal
Arsenal have a lot of flaws in their team that they could yet patch up with some new acquisitions before the window closes, but they'll not only have to do that but get them settled into the team in time to take on a group stage with no easy games. Arsenal have played above themselves in the Champions League in recent years, but it may be a step too far this time.
Dead last: Olympique Marseille
Marseille have some excellent players, but they're probably the weakest of the four teams here. Despite that, they certainly won't be writing off the prospect of qualifying, and can be a danger to anyone on their day - players like the Ayew brothers and Mathieu Valbuena may not be the most consistent, but they do have some history of turning up in big games. They'll need to this year.
Best player: Marek Hamsik
In a summer where many top-tier players moved sides, nobody came in for Marek Hamsik, as important to Napoli as the departed Edinson Cavani. In a group stage where all the games will be tight affairs, the Slovakian's ability to score goals and produce decisive, killer passes from nothing will be absolutely essential to his side's hopes, moreso than anyone on Dortmund and probably anyone Arsenal are either likely to buy or have in their squad now.
Emerging star: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
A lot of players could have gone here, but Aubameyang has started very strongly for his new side in the Bundesliga, and will look to replicate that form on the biggest stage of all to give his team the best chance of progressing. Many teams were linked to him before Dortmund swooped, and if he shows his good form is no blip, then most of them will be regretting the decision to let him go.
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