Time to check in and see how I did on my first stab at predictions for the Champions League. First, let’s compare the predictions and results in the table below. Then we’ll tally up the correct results and accurate scores to see my points total.
|Real Madrid||APOEL Nicosia||5-1||3-0|
The good news — I predicted nine results accurately out of 16. Certainly, getting more than 50% on my first attempt is a decent achievement. However, I only guessed two scores correctly. There were seven matches where the results were not what I expected. Some of these were fine margins aka Roberto Firmino’s missed penalty. Others were completely off the mark — uhmm, never predicting good things for Celtic again! At the end of it all, I ended up with 13 points from 48. Definitely a bit underwhelmed. Let’s hope for better next time!
Here are the original reasons behind some of my predictions.
- Though PSG clearly are one of the frontrunners in this year’s competition, I think they are going to get a huge shock when confronted with the atmosphere at Celtic Park. Brendan Rodgers showed last season that Celtic are going to take the game to their opponents at home, regardless of stature. I expect the same this time around, and in an end to end game, PSG’s defence can certainly be breached.
- Roma vs Atletico Madrid is not a game we have seen in the recent past, so there is a lot of curiosity around this fixture. However, I don’t expect the game to live up to the hype. Roma’s attacking game plan is still being fine-tuned by Eusebio Di Franceso while Atleti’s first instincts are always to neutralize their opponents. As it is a European game, there is bound to be tactical intrigue. Just don’t expect a spectacle.
- Barcelona have almost always struggled to beat Juventus in European competition, with the notable exception of the 2015 Champions League final. It’s tempting to go with recent history in this one. After all, Juve eliminated Barca from the competition as recently as April. Both teams have maximum points from their first three games of the season. It should be a cracker and I am possibly going against my own better judgement over here. But I think the Blaugrana are currently playing with something to prove. This is when they are at their most dangerous. Hence, I am going for a home win.
- Another repeat of a European final takes place on Wednesday, when Liverpool host Sevilla at Anfield. The 2016 Europa League final was a chastening experience for the Reds and they will be looking to avenge that night in Basel. One would think with Sevilla’s better recent European pedigree, they would be favourites. However, there is a significant caveat. The Andalusian club have never travelled well to England. Anfield is always a magical place on European nights. After waiting to return to this stage, I expect the fans to inspire Jurgen Klopp’s men to an exciting victory.
- RB Leipzig vs Monaco is definitely the hipsters match of the round. Like many, I am fascinated to see how this plays out. It’s going to be interesting to see how Leipzig translate their high intensity game to the European stage. The visitors have certainly increased their standing on the continent under Leonardo Jardim’s astute management. However, despite their greater experience, Monaco are always likely to concede. Both defences are prone to lapses, while both attacks can wreak havoc. Should be a humdinger!
- Spurs at Wembley. Dortmund beat Spurs handily in the Europa League two seasons ago. A foregone conclusion then? Not so quick! I actually think Dortmund are still getting accustomed to new manager Peter Bosz’s ideas. Over the weekend, they struggled to break down the ten men of Freiburg despite having the numerical advantage for more than 60 minutes. You also have to factor in Dortmund’s defence, which pales significantly in comparison to Tottenham’s. I think the fact that Spurs are in a group where they are seen as the underdog suits Mauricio Pochettino. In addition, I believe we’ll see the likes of Kane, Alli, Dembele and Eriksen inspired to greater heights when they come up against the stature of Madrid of Dortmund. At the risk of repeating myself, this is going to be another cracker!