Breaking Down Barcelona's Champions League Group-Stage Opponents

Tre' AtkinsonFeatured ColumnistAugust 28, 2014

Breaking Down Barcelona's Champions League Group-Stage Opponents

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    After the Champions League draw on Thursday, Barcelona now know the three teams that will stand in their way of advancing from the group stages. PSG, Ajax and Apoel will all face the Catalan giants, and it promises to be a very exciting group.

    Barcelona has a rich history with Ajax and have faced PSG several times in recent seasons. Apoel may be a new face, but they have performed well in their most recent Champions League appearances.

    In this article we will take a look at Barcelona’s three group-stage rivals and discuss what La Blaugrana’s chances are of topping the group. As always, feel free to get involved in the discussion in the comment section below!

Apoel Nicosia

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    Apoel made their name back in 2012 when they reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League, becoming the Cinderella club of the year. After eventually bowing out, many still remember the brilliant run of the Cyprus champions.

    On the surface, Apoel stand the smallest chance of getting out of this group, but they won’t go down without a fight. Barcelona cannot take the ties lightly.

    The Cypriot side has added an exciting forward in Frenchman Rafik Djebbour, who will be looking to help the club progress further. Take into other talented players such as captain Constantinos Charalambides, and Apoel is a great side to watch.

    As Barcelona take on Apoel, they will face a hard-fighting side with nothing to lose. The Catalans should make it out of both matches with victories, but it cannot be taken lightly.

Ajax

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    Ajax is a very familiar face to Barcelona with the two clubs sharing a similar philosophy as well as many players throughout the years. The Dutch outfit was in Barcelona’s group last year but managed to only finish third.

    Last year, Ajax and Barcelona played two exciting matches. The Catalans won the first meeting 4-0, but the Dutch managed to pull off an impressive 2-1 victory in the second leg. With such familiarity, toppling Ajax will be no easy task.

    Led by stars such as Daley Blind, Lasse Schone and Jasper Cillessen, the Dutch side is very strong. They dominate the Eredivisie on a yearly basis and are a constant threat in the Champions League.

    Ajax are known for their ability to play total football and put any team to the test. It is reasonable to think that the Dutch can get a result against Barcelona in one of the meetings, though their chances of getting out of the group are not that high.

    Even though several stars have left the club over the past few years, Ajax remain a strong side. They will push Barcelona, but the Catalans should be able to handle the fight.

Paris Saint-Germain

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    PSG and Barcelona are starting to build a Champions League rivalry these days, and now that they will be playing in the same group their familiarity with one another will only grow further. The French outfit is improving every season and is pegged for a very deep run in Europe.

    Former Barcelona players Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Maxwell and Thiago Motta know exactly how the Catalan club operates and will pose a threat due to their familiarity. However, there are many other stars like Thiago Silva and Edinson Cavani that give PSG a very good chance against any opponent.

    Barcelona and PSG are favorites to escape the group, but it is possible that either could top it. Both clubs are full of world-class talent and are sure to play two intense matches.

    Surely, the French club is Barcelona’s biggest opposition in the group stages. Topping the group won’t be easy for the Catalans, but it is definitely possible, and even expected by many.

     

    What do you make of Barcelona's group stage opponents? Will the Catalans top the group this year? Leave your thoughts and comments below!