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Sports Authority

Geyer: Predicting the 2019 UEFA Champions League

| Friday, August 30, 2019

My father has always proposed to me the theory that only two seasons exist in this world: Football season and spring football season. Admittedly, I have always agreed on principle, particularly having grown up an Ohio State fan. However, as I have matured and developed my own values, I have come to believe an alternate hypothesis, holding that perhaps instead, the only two seasons are Champions League season and Champions League off-season.

After what seemed to be a cold, hopeless and endless off-season, we have once more reached the dawn of another year, and with the dawn of another year, the dawn of new hope — at least for a humble soccer fan such as myself. As such, it is only appropriate that I dedicate this Sports Authority to another year of the world’s best club soccer tournament.

So, without further ado, I present to you my 2019 UEFA Champions League predictions. Yes, I am aware that two teams advance out of each group, but picking two winners just isn’t as fun, plus group winners get better draws in the knockout stage.

Group A: PSG, Real Madrid, Club Brugge, Galatasaray

Winner: Real Madrid

Don’t get me wrong, PSG is a great club, but ultimately, their lack of experience and committed talent will spell their downfall this year. It’s clear Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior doesn’t want to be there anymore, and it seems to me that he’ll be gone by the time group play begins anyway. Behind Neymar is Kylian Mbappé, who, despite leading France to the World Cup title, is too young to get his club the top spot in this group — especially when compared to the lineup Real Madrid is boasting this season. Bonus points to Real for Gareth Bale’s hair.

Group B: Bayern, Tottenham, Olympiacos, Crvena Zvezda

Winner: Bayern Munich

Sure, Tottenham has Harry Kane, but Bayern has seven consecutive Bundesliga titles. Need I say more?

Group C: Manchester City, Shakhtar Donetsk, Dinamo Zagreb, Atalanta

Winner: Manchester City

City is in the same group as Shakhtar for the third year in a row, and if that’s not God’s way of saying that Manchester is Blue, I don’t know what is. Pep Guardiola has already made himself a City great with back-to-back Premier League titles, but he could make himself a City legend with a Champions League crown. City has secured the easiest draw — they’d better use it to their advantage.

Group D: Juventus, Atlético, Leverkusen, Lokomotiv Moskva

Winner: Juventus

Juventus is to Serie A as Barcelona is to La Liga. Athlético’s struggle for second place in the Spanish league means they’ll have their hands more than full with Ronaldo’s dominant Italian squad.

Group E: Liverpool, Napoli, Salzburg, Genk

Winner: Mo Salah

Did I say Mo Salah? Sorry I meant Liverpool. Right?

Group F: Barcelona, Dortmund, Internazionale, Slavia Praha

Winner: Barcelona

First the World Cup, now this? Lionel Messi just can’t catch a break. Stuck with the worst draw, Barcelona will face much higher competition in the group stage than other title contenders like City. With the pending addition of Neymar, however, Barca should be able to advance out of this group, hopefully on top of the table.

Group G: Zenit, Benfica, Lyon, Leipzig

Winner: Lyon

A good draw for both Lyon and Benfica, but Lyon will face better competition in the Ligue 1 than Benfica will in Primeira Liga, leaving them better prepared and at the top of this group.

Group H: Chelsea, Ajax, Valencia, LOSC

Winner: Ajax

After tasting greatness in last year’s Champions League competition, Ajax will be anxious to prove themselves again. Though Chelsea hoped their fates would improve this season with the addition of Christian Pulisic, their struggles thus far in the Premier League foreshadow trouble down the road. I say the pesky Dutch underdogs sneak out of this group on top.

In conclusion, having filled out a March Madness bracket every year since I learned how to write, I fully expect predictive inaccuracy. But hey, a girl can dream.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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