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Stan Collymore's Champions League Predictions for the Group Stage

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Stan CollymoreSenior Writer IIDecember 1, 2016

The draw for the Champions League group stage was made on Thursday, and Bleacher Report has asked me to make my predictions for the two teams to advance from each group. Here goes.

Group AAtletico Madrid, Juventus, Olympiakos, Malmo

This group is fairly straightforward to call. Atleti, champions of Spain, and Serie A winners Juventus will be the two to go through here.

I'm really looking forward to seeing how Antoine Griezmann and Mario Mandzukic perform for Atletico Madrid. I think Juve will edge top spot, with Atletic coming through second.

Nice to see Malmo back on this stage. They're a European favourite of mine, but they'll have to make do with third. 

Group BReal Madrid, Liverpool, Basel, Ludogorets Razgrad

It's great to see Liverpool back on the biggest stage. I've played on European nights at Anfield, and it's very special indeed. 

Holders Real Madrid are my outstanding favourites. They'll go through as winners, with the likes of Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo, James Rodriguez, Toni Kroos and Co. just too good to be stopped. They'll win the group comfortably.

The key for Liverpool is taking four points or more from the two games against Basel, who made things difficult for Chelsea last season. If they do that, they'll go through second.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 25:  Raheem Sterling of Liverpool in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium on August 25, 2014 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Image
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Group CBenfica, Zenit Saint Petersburg, Bayer Leverkusen, Monaco

This one is a very even group, with four very well balanced teams and no outstanding side.

Monaco have spent a lot of money on the likes of Radamel Falcao and Dimitar Berbatov, but they're still some way from being a genuine force.

That said, I think they'll scrape through. Benfica will join them, but this one could go down to the final round of matches.

Group DArsenal, Borussia Dortmund, Galatasaray, Anderlecht

It's Dortmund again for Arsenal, but I think the Gunners are better set with attacking options this season having added Alexis Sanchez. They are still a worry defensively, however, and lack the enforcer you need to win the Premier League and challenge in Europe. 

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 27:  Alexis Sanchez (R) of Arsenal celebrates with team mate Santi Cazorla of Arsenal after scoring during the UEFA Champions League Qualifier 2nd leg match between Arsenal and Besiktas at the Emirates Stadium on August 27, 2014 i
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

I'm picking Dortmund to win the group, with Arsenal to come through in second.

Group EBayern Munich, Manchester City, CSKA Moscow, Roma

Bayern will be stung by last year's disappointment and ready to unleash hell. They'll win this group of death convincingly.

Roma are looking very good. They've recruited well, and they play an expansive style which will win over the neutrals this season. 

That said, I think City will just pip them to second. They remain susceptible against the best opponents, and are still early in their Champions League evolution, but they'll reach the knockout stage.

Group FBarcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, Ajax, APOEL Nicosia

APOEL are good enough to nick points here. They will make things tough in Cyprus for Ajax and PSG, and we could see some surprises.

Barca are my outstanding favourites to go through as winners.

Ajax are a selling club who might even lose Daley Blind to Manchester United before the window shuts, as per De Telegraaf (h/t The Guardian). They produce players to be sold in their teens or early 20s, and ultimately that costs them the chance to be competitive at this level.

HONG KONG - JULY 29:  Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Paris Saint-Germain reacts during the friendly match between Kitchee and Paris Saint-Germain at Hong Kong Stadium on July 29, 2014 in Hong Kong, Hong Kong.  (Photo by Victor Fraile/Getty Images)
Victor Fraile/Getty Images

PSG's problem is the slower tempo and limited quality of the French league. It's just not enough to prepare them for the rigours of the Champions League football in its latter stages. They'll get through this group as runners-up, but they are not genuine challengers to win it.

Group G—Chelsea, Schalke, Sporting Lisbon, Maribor

Such a simple group for Chelsea. They've added in key positions and have more creativity with Cesc Fabregas onboard. Diego Costa, a streetfighter of a striker, is also looking good.

Schalke, Sporting and Maribor are B-rated sides. They'll take points off each other, but it's anybody's guess who'll come second behind Chelsea.

Group HPorto, Shakhtar Donetsk, Athletic Bilbao, BATE Borisov

It's the two Iberian clubs to go through here. Athletic Bilbao had a great campaign last season and perform remarkably well for a team that only recruits from one part of Spain.

Donetsk should never be written off, but I think Porto will edge them to second.

 

Former Liverpool and England striker Stan Collymore is in his second season as a Bleacher Report contributor.

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