Go ahead, breathe it in. The first week of UEFA Champions League matches for the 2021-2022 season is finally here! (Cue the theme song please!)
Even though this is just the beginning of the Group Stage and there are already quite a few clear-cut favorites to make it through to the Knockout Rounds, let’s go ahead and make our predictions for the winners of this week’s matches!
Tuesday, September 14th
GROUP E: Barcelona vs Bayern Munich
Two big clubs going at it right off the bat! With club legend Lionel Messi gone and Antoine Griezmann deciding to jump ship as well, Barcelona suddenly find themselves with a much less star-studded attack. As for their opposition, Bayern Munich show no lack of depth, Robert Lewandowski shows no signs of slowing down, and Bayern always seems to have luck go their way whenever they play Barca. Anyone remember that 8-2 win of theirs?
Predicted Winner/Score: Barcelona 2, Bayern Munich 4
Dynamo Kyiv vs Benfica
With Dynamo Kyiv being the ruling champions of the Ukrainian Premier League, and Benfica finishing in the top 3 of the Primeira Liga, this particular match should be relatively even-footed. Both teams are currently on unbeaten streaks in their respective domestic leagues, but Dynamo Kyiv’s roster is already peppered with quite a few injuries.
Predicted Winner/Score: Dynamo Kyiv 1, Benfica 1. Draw.
GROUP F: Young Boys vs Manchester United
The Red Devils travel to Switzerland to take on a very competitive Young Boys team. The Swiss team is indeed talented, but perhaps lack the composure and experience that a team such as Man United brings. With United still running on a high from last weekend’s explosive win over Newcastle, and with the heralded return of none other than Cristiano Ronaldo, this match should be Man United’s for the taking.
Predicted Winner/Score: Young Boys 0, Manchester United 3
Villarreal vs Atalanta
Villarreal are last season’s Europa League winners, and they will face a Atalanta team that has been hungry to compete against Europe’s top heavyweights for the past few seasons. Both sides love to cause surprises, and with one team Spanish and the other Italian, there is bound to be high intensity throughout this match.
Predicted Winner/Score: Villarreal 2, Atalanta 1
GROUP G: Sevilla vs Salzburg
Red Bull Salzburg comes in as the most dominant Austrian side in a long time, but Sevilla comes in with more experience and more prep. Sevilla’s match against Barcelona was postponed last weekend due to many players returning late from international duty. Therefore, the Spanish side will be arriving more rested and more prepared.
Predicted Winner/Score: Sevilla 2, Salzburg 1
Lille vs Wolfsburg
Wolfsburg are currently on a roll in Bundesliga, maintaining a practically unbeaten record under new manager Mark van Bommel. Lille, on the other hand, have not had a very promising start to their Ligue 1 season. Wolfsburg provides more of a threat in attack and will surely know how to punish the French side.
Predicted Winner/Score: Lille 0, Wolfsburg 2
GROUP H: Chelsea vs Zenit
Chelsea start off defending last season’s Champions League title playing comfortably at home against a competitive Russian side, Zenit. There will be some noticeable absences in Chelsea’s midfield due to injuries, but fortunately for the Blues, they do not lack replacements. Zenit has always been tough, but this particular away match may be too much for the visitors to handle.
Predicted Winner/Score: Chelsea 2, Zenit 0
Malmo vs Juventus
It has been a Serie A season to forget so far for the former Italian giants, so Juventus will be desperately looking to change their fortunes this week with a win against Malmo. They have the roster and depth to do just that, but Malmo could be just the team to block their hopes and further deepen the Bianconeri’s identity crisis.
Predicted Winner/Score: Malmo 1, Juventus 2
Wednesday, September 15th
GROUP A: Manchester City vs RB Leipzig
Sterling, De Bruyne, Grealish, OH MY! Not to mention the speculated return of Phil Foden to the starting lineup could mean that Pep Guardiola’s attack for Man City will be potent. Meanwhile, RB Leipzig’s manager, Jesse Marsch, has admitted that his side “may not be ready for such big challenges“… Well, there you go.
Predicted Winner/Score: Manchester City 4, Leipzig 1
Club Brugge vs PSG
The most elite European crown has eluded PSG for so long. But now with the likes of Neymar, Mbappe, Ramos, Donnarumma, and a guy named Lionel Messi added to their roster, a new quest begins. Club Brugge’s recent struggles in defense will only contribute to this.
Predicted Winner/Score: Club Brugge 0, PSG 3
GROUP B: Atletico Madrid vs Porto
Fortunes are currently favoring Atletico, who are only missing center-back Stefan Savic due to suspension. Porto is quite used to the Champions League scene, but with a couple injuries marring them, and with Diego Simeone’s Bond villain strategy going against them, this match will be tough.
Predicted Winner/Score: Atletico Madrid 2, Porto 1
Liverpool vs AC Milan
Old Champions League rivals, The Reds and the Rossoneri will face off at Anfield. This will be Milan’s first flight back in CL competition in eight years, and with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, they’re a team ready to pounce. But do not forget the magic of Mo Salah and the defensive force of Virgil Van Dijk. Especially in front of a home crowd.
Predicted Winner/Score: Liverpool 2, AC Milan 2. Draw.
GROUP C: Besiktas vs Borussia Dortmund
Besiktas is arguably the most formidable team in the Turkish league, and they just added experienced midfielder Miralem Pjanic to their roster. However, Dortmund have Haaland, and plenty of momentum when going forward. This particular match is probably one of the most underrated for this week’s Group Stage.
Predicted Winner/Score: Besitkas 1, Dortmund 3
Sporting Lisbon vs Ajax
Another close to even match-up, but Ajax takes the cake with a more impressive record for the Group Stage in Champions League. However, Sporting do have confidence still carrying them from being Portuguese champions from last season. Both teams are fearless in attack.
Predicted Winner/Score: Sporting Lisbon 2, Ajax 2. Draw.
GROUP D: Sheriff Tiraspol vs Shakhtar Donetsk
Sheriff is the first team from Moldova to ever reach Champions League competition, so they will be coming in with a buzz. But Shakhtar plays with a little more grit and are wanting to build off of their current domestic high. Their experience in this competition is also a plus.
Predicted Winner/Score: Sheriff 0, Shakhtar 1
Inter Milan vs Real Madrid
Inter will play host to thirteen-time Champions League winners and Spanish giants, Real Madrid. The Nerazzurri have lost both Conte and Lukaku, but have gained striker Edin Dzeko in the process. Madrid have also lost Zidane and Ramos, but still have their core of Benzema, Kroos, Jovic, Bale, and Marcelo to rely on. Not to mention youngster Vinicius Jr.
Predicted Winner/Score: Inter 1, Real Madrid 3
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