UEFA Champions League predictions: UCL winner, golden boot, breakout stars, shock group-stage scenarios, more

Europe’s greatest and greatest membership competitors is again. The Champions League resumes on Tuesday and you may watch all of the motion on Paramount+. After a summer season of excessive drama on and off the pitch the stability of European soccer could effectively have tilted and our knowledgeable picks would recommend there isn’t a clear frontrunner for the prize with the likes of Chelsea, Manchester Metropolis and Paris Saint-Germain all prone to be vying for the crown. Our soccer panel choose the possible winners, prime scorers, breakout stars and far more beneath.

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Champions League winner

Fabrizio Romano: Too straightforward to say Paris Saint-Germain! In fact, they’re the massive favorites. However I need to take a danger with Atletico Madrid, who’ve constructed an unimaginable group with many various gamers, good mentality, and all the time the identical supervisor to present continuity. It is in all probability a loopy prediction, however it’s not unattainable. Decide: Atletico Madrid

Luis Miguel Echegaray: I do know, I do know. For a lot of of you, PSG are the apparent alternative. I imply how may it not be, proper? Overlook in regards to the embarrassment of riches, which incorporates Kylian Mbappé, Neymar Jr. and Lionel Messi. There’s star energy all all through the squad, and most significantly, championship expertise. Each space of the pitch has a champion. From Sergio Ramos to Marco Verratti and Gianluigi Donnarrumma, that is group is – and I can not stress this sufficient – loaded with trophy energy. Mauricio Pochettino, due to this fact, is the soccer model of Scrooge McDuck swimming in a pool of golden cash. The stress will likely be there for positive, and plenty of will counter Man Metropolis as one other membership who has a variety of expertise. However the distinction is that one group performs in a league – and with all as a result of respect to Ligue 1 – that may afford to consistently rotate, which means that key gamers can relaxation and put together for midweek UCL motion. It is PSG for me, and if they do not win it, they need to retire from the sport altogether. Decide: Paris Saint-Germain

Jimmy Conrad: FC Sheriff! As a result of they’ve the good identify and crest. OK, advantageous, trophies aren’t really handed out for that kind of stuff so I will go along with Chelsea. I do know going back-to-back is a uncommon incidence, particularly when the Blues could have a giant goal on their again for successful it final season, however this group is constructed to win a lot of these competitions with their defense-first mentality. And whenever you couple that with the addition of Romelu Lukaku up prime, they might show to be unstoppable on either side of the ball. Decide: Chelsea

Thomas Rongen: Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappé and Neymar kind arguably the best attacking trio in historical past and ought to be unstoppable. The French giants even have a stable defensive construction with Marquinhos, Sergio Ramos and goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma. This group is the true deal. Decide: Paris Saint-Germain

James Benge: The whole bundle, Chelsea have stars in each roster spot and a stage of depth that must be the envy of groups throughout Europe. However it is not simply expertise that wins these competitions, it is methods and group high quality. That’s what Thomas Tuchel instilled at Chelsea virtually in a single day. They’re masters of the best way they play. In assault, they stretch the pitch. In protection, they problem opponents to squeeze by way of the tightest of gaps. They’re the most effective group in Europe. I am unsure it is even that shut. Decide: Chelsea

Jonathan Johnson: With Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappé now within the fold, it appears like now or by no means for the Parisiens. Decide: Paris Saint-Germain

Roger Gonzalez: It simply must be PSG. Arguably the best lineup we have seen on paper by way of high quality from goalkeeper to strikers, it is Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappé and Neymar main a group that in reality should not lose a recreation. I anticipate them to dominate, to cruise into the ultimate and win the membership their first European crown. Decide: Paris Saint-Germain

Mike L. Goodman: Manchester Metropolis proceed to be top-of-the-line couple of groups in Europe each season. Finally, when you get sufficient swings at it you handle to recover from the road. In fact, the identical could possibly be stated for PSG who’ve been finalists and semifinalists over the previous two seasons. However, being hardened by probably the most aggressive league on the planet proper now within the Premier League, and being pushed week in and week out by Chelsea, Liverpool, and Manchester United, will stand Metropolis in good stead. Decide: Manchester Metropolis

Des Norris: Do not sleep on the Rojiblancos. Diego Simeone stays a pragmatist at coronary heart, and his protection, fortified by the presence of human forcefield Jan Oblak, displays that. Nevertheless, the return of Antoine Griezmann will add extra dynamism to a entrance line that already boasted a procession of world-class attacking choices. There’s not a supervisor in Europe that will need to run into the LaLiga champions. Decide: Atletico Madrid

Champions League runner-up

Fabrizio Romano: If they do not attain the ultimate, PSG can be the most important sporting failure of current years. I believe they’ll definitely compete to win the Cup till the top. Decide: Paris Saint-Germain

Luis Miguel Echegaray: I believe Pep Guardiola arrives to the ultimate as soon as once more with the defending Premier League champions, however as soon as once more, not having sufficient cowl within the No. 9 place will harm them. This clearly relies upon to how the season unfolds and what kind of enterprise they may or may not do in January. However I do consider that this membership is robust sufficient the attain the ultimate as soon as once more, it is simply that with a purpose to win the entire thing, they are going to want a scientific striker. Decide: Manchester Metropolis

Jimmy Conrad: PSG. If solely as a result of their unimaginable squad of celebrity gamers in virtually each place on the sector is not truthful so I might favor another person do it … like FC Sheriff! Decide: Paris Saint-Germain

Thomas Rongen: Like PSG, Manchester Metropolis are obsessively chasing this title, spending huge bucks on the world’s greatest gamers to enhance their probabilities at successful. Metropolis is barely forward on odds, however in the long run PSG arguably have extra expertise. Decide: Manchester Metropolis

James Benge: It is a toss-up between PSG and Manchester Metropolis for the title of “not fairly pretty much as good as Chelsea.” It is nonetheless arduous to be that optimistic about how a lot a group can mix after they’re so hardly ever on the pitch collectively. It’s eminently believable that every one this attacking expertise won’t carry all of them the best way if it’s not prepared to press or defend with depth. Nonetheless, Lionel Messi will win them some matches. Neymar a number of too. And Kylian Mbappé. Decide: Paris Saint-Germain

Jonathan Johnson: Though something may occur between from time to time, it appears like certainly one of final season’s finalists will make a repeat look and Metropolis are in PSG’s Group A. Decide: Chelsea

Roger Gonzalez: The group invests in a real striker within the winter, has little bother within the knockout stage and units up a closing of contemporary day soccer the place cash guidelines all. Decide: Manchester Metropolis

Mike L. Goodman: Do not sleep on a Liverpool group that continues to be extraordinarily harmful now that they’ve put final season’s defensive damage disaster behind them. There’s merely nothing a lot to recommend that this group is worse than the facet that received the Premier League two seasons in the past and the Champions League the 12 months earlier than that. Decide: Liverpool

Des Norris: Defending the crown is rarely a simple activity, until your identify is Zinedine Zidane. Thomas Tuchel managed to information the Blues to the summit of the mountain 4 months after taking cost of a group low on confidence and concepts. And issues have solely improved over the summer season, with the addition of Romelu Lukaku and the revelation that Trevoh Chalobah is as much as the duty. Decide: Chelsea

Shock group-stage elimination

Fabrizio Romano: Villarreal could be very robust however regardless of being within the first pot having received the final Europa League, they’ll take a variety of dangers of their group. Atalanta have all of the credentials to do nice issues once more and Manchester United are clearly the massive favorites of the group. Decide: Villarreal

Luis Miguel Echegaray: This can be a powerful one, particularly as a result of there are a number of narratives that might come true in multiple group. Group B for instance, teases me to pick out one out of Liverpool, AC Milan, Atletico Madrid and Porto. Man United’s destiny stays a thriller, even with Cristiano Ronaldo, just because he does not reply their midfield issues. However I’m going to stay my neck out right here and say that Juventus would be the sufferer. I do know, I do know. It in all probability will not occur however I believe Ronaldo’s exit (who by the best way occurs to be the event’s all-time main scorer) severely hurts them. If you are going to gamble, you would possibly as effectively go huge, and my guess is The Outdated Woman … will simply grow old this 12 months. Decide: Juventus

Jimmy Conrad: Barcelona. Bayern will win this group and I believe Benfica will get second. Yeah, I stated it! As a result of, first, you may by no means sleep on Portuguese golf equipment in European competitions and, second, Martin Braithwaite as a substitute of Lionel Messi and Luuk de Jong as a substitute of Antoine Griezmann? These sound like Europa League replacements to me!  Decide: Barcelona

Thomas Rongen: Europa league champions Villarreal are usually not be a Pot 1 facet anyone would concern. Seventh in La Liga final 12 months, and began the season with three attracts and misplaced Bryan Gil to Tottenham. Decide: Villarreal

James Benge: I predicted Inter Milan would not make it out final season and was vindicated, and that group was significantly better than this present iteration. Maybe all you would say of their favor as in comparison with 2020-21 is that they have misplaced Antonio Conte, probably the most excellent supervisor to look utterly incapable of greedy the Champions League. One closing level on Group D: Write Sheriff off at your peril. Decide: Inter Milan

Jonathan Johnson: Their begin to the Serie A season has been fairly poor and Allegri’s males look devoid of identification. Decide: Juventus

Roger Gonzalez: Once more they crash out of the group stage with a tough group, stumbling towards Shakhtar Donetsk in back-to-back seasons. Dropping Romelu Lukaku and Achraf Hakimi is their downfall. Decide: Inter Milan

Mike L. Goodman: Group B sees final season’s La Liga champs run headlong into AC Milan and Liverpool. Atletico barely held on to win final season’s championship and if Barcelona hadn’t choked away a number of factors within the final week’s, this group can be remembered for a historic collapse. This season, they’re strolling the identical line with very late targets rescuing a draw towards Villarreal and a win towards Espanyol. That magic runs out beneath the Champions League lights. Decide: Atletico Madrid

Des Norris: Bayern Munich are the prohibitive favorites to advance out of Group E, whereas Benfica, beneath the tutelage of a supervisor who is aware of a factor or two about successful continental cup competitions in Jorge Jesus, will fancy their probabilities of taking second spot. Pretty much as good as Memphis Depay is, the shellshock of shedding Lionel Messi will in the end be an excessive amount of to bear for Ronald Koeman’s facet. Decide: Barcelona

Shock group-stage winner

Fabrizio Romano: Not a giant shock, after all – however within the PSG group having the ability to move first is virtually a feat, even for a incredible group like Pep Guardiola’s. They’ll do it. Decide: Manchester Metropolis

Luis Miguel Echegaray: It is probably not a lot of shock as that is very doable for the Italian facet, given the truth that they’re an ever group (Man United, Villarreal, Younger Boys) however of us neglect that Atalanta is the little — extraordinarily aggressive — engine that might. From a monetary and spending standpoint, they haven’t any proper being on this event, however they carry on plugging away thanks Gian Piero Gasperini’s do-or-die philosophy. They’ve come runners-up of their teams within the final two UCL campaigns however this time round, I believe they prime the entire thing. Decide: Atalanta

Jimmy Conrad: Atletico Madrid — which could not be THAT a lot of a shock since their group is stacked, however our mates at Caesars Sportsbook have them at +2200 to win all of it, which, at that worth, I am undoubtedly placing some cash on them. Nevertheless, they underperformed in final season’s Champions League, solely successful two out of eight video games and getting bounced within the spherical of 16 by Chelsea, 3-0, over two legs AND they’re in a tricky group with Liverpool, AC Milan and Porto. Decide: Atletico Madrid

Thomas Rongen: Purple Bull Salzburg to make it by way of the group stage for the primary time, having drawn in all probability the weakest sides from Pot 1 and Pot 2. Decide: Purple Bull Salzburg

James Benge: Nicely look, historical past says you need to be stunned by Man United. Within the post-Sir Alex Ferguson period, they’ve solely topped their Champions League teams twice and on these events they didn’t face many if any groups pretty much as good as Atalanta and Villarreal. Though this group has given them three excellent opponents, they’re additionally groups that go well with United to a tee, the type of opponents who’re prepared to press excessive (to virtually kamikaze ranges in Younger Boys’ case) and are weak to the type of punchy working into area that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s facet accomplish that effectively. Decide: Manchester United

Jonathan Johnson: Many will anticipate Sevilla to win Group G, however I predict that it is going to be the Germans. Decide: Wolfsburg

Roger Gonzalez: Whereas Sevilla are the favorites in Group G, it’s the revived German facet, sitting atop the Bundesliga with an ideal 4-0-0 report, that wins the group moderately convincingly with the protection main the best way. Decide: Wolfsburg

Mike L. Goodman: Does this rely as a shock? Salzburg have been more and more aggressive within the Champions League, and whereas they have been drawn into a bunch with opponents from prime leagues, none of Sevilla, Wolfsburg or Lille are significantly inspiring. Decide: Purple Bull Salzburg

Des Norris: The shock right here is Actual Madrid should accept second place. Regardless of shedding Romelu Lukaku and Achraf Hakimi over the summer season, and beginning the season with a giant query mark hanging over Christian Eriksen’s future, the Nerazzurri have responded effectively beneath new coach Simone Inzaghi. Discover how I did not point out Antonio Conte’s departure within the earlier sentence? Whereas the Italian reinvigorated the group on the home entrance, his observe report in Europe made for miserable studying. Inzaghi is a unique story. Decide: Inter Milan

Golden boot winner

Fabrizio Romano: Discovering the keenness of taking part in in a group of “aliens” after the previous few years in Barcelona with so many difficulties will definitely give us again the “actual” Messi additionally within the Champions League. I anticipate a unprecedented Champions League for him. Decide: Lionel Messi, Paris Saint-Germain

Luis Miguel Echegaray: There are apparent selections in all places. From Cristiano Ronaldo to Romelu Lukaku, selecting only one magnificent prime scorer shouldn’t be straightforward. However let’s hold this one very temporary. There’s one man proper now who scores virtually each time he blinks and who proper now, enters a pivotal level in his profession. Erling Haaland is aware of that this can be a key season for him at Borussia Dortmund and maybe most significantly, so does his membership. Haaland is hungry and he’s prepared for his subsequent sufferer. In a really doable group, one that can provide him loads of probabilities, I’d be very stunned if he does not go away the group stage with not less than 10 targets. Decide: Erling Haaland, Borussia Dortmund

Jimmy Conrad: First, Erling Haaland received the Golden Boot for the primary time final season with 10 targets, two greater than Kylian Mbappé, who completed in second on eight, so we all know he’ll be trying to retain his title. Second, in his profession, Haaland has scored 20 targets in 14 Champions League video games, which is a mean of multiple purpose a recreation. Yeah, I simply did the maths for you. I used to be a math main in faculty. Third, his membership, Borussia Dortmund, and so they have a fairly manageable group with Ajax, Besiktas and Sporting Membership de Portugal, so he ought to be well-positioned to maintain hitting the again of the web at a report tempo. Decide: Erling Haaland, Borussia Dortmund

Thomas Rongen: Mbappé! With the service of Messi and Neymar, the French worldwide would be the one that can profit probably the most. Decide: Kylian Mbappé, Paris Saint-Germain

James Benge: For a Golden Boot winner we’re in search of a participant who’s bang in kind, takes penalties and has a few fairly favorable opponents in his group. Howdy Romelu Lukaku, Chelsea celebrity who’s about to face Zenit Saint Petersburg and Malmo. Decide: Romelu Lukaku, Chelsea

Jonathan Johnson: Romelu Lukaku has hit the bottom working with Chelsea and the defending champions look much more formidable. Decide: Romelu Lukaku, Chelsea

Roger Gonzalez: The very best striker on the planet runs away with it, getting seven targets within the group stage and 4 extra within the knockout stage as Dortmund make a quarterfinal run. Probably the most dominant attacking power on the planet proper now on the No. 9 place. Decide: Erling Haaland, Borussia Dortmund

Mike L. Goodman: Erling Haaland is absolutely good. Additionally, three of the opposite most certainly winners (Kylian Mbappé, Lionel Messi, and Neymar) all need to share the identical ball. It additionally does not harm that Dortmund have been drawn into a simple group with Ajax, Besiktas and Sporting CP for Haaland to feast on. Decide: Erling Haaland, Borussia Dortmund

Des Norris: It does not matter what you attempt to do to cease him, the Bayern Munich No. 9 will all the time discover a option to rating. Since Dec. 14, 2019, he has solely failed to search out the again of the web in seven out of fifty Bundesliga appearances, racking up 62 targets within the course of. If extra proof of his prowess have been wanted, within the earlier three Champions League campaigns, he notched 28 targets in 24 video games. Decide: Robert Lewandowski, Bayern Munich

Breakout star

Fabrizio Romano: Rodrigo de Paul is without doubt one of the most underrated purchases of the summer season. He’ll lastly be capable of play within the Champions League, in Serie A he has been stellar for years with Udinese and now Atletico Madrid may also help him amaze once more. A younger man from 2001 to keep watch over is Roberto Piccoli, Atalanta striker, prime scorer of the Youth League in 2020. He has already scored a purpose within the first two Serie A video games. Decide: Rodrigo De Paul, Atletico Madrid

Luis Miguel Echegaray: Eduardo Camavinga. I’m such a fan of this younger man. From his inspirational story to his work ethic, Camavinga is able to elevate his recreation to new heights with Actual Madrid. Should you watched his announcement presser, you may see that he isn’t confronted by something. Now that he has a stronger set of teammates and a supervisor who will encourage him to push himself, I anticipate some nice issues from the 18-year-old on the most important stage. Decide: Eduardo Camavinga, Actual Madrid

Jimmy Conrad: Mannnn. This one is hard. I like a number of children like Bayern’s Jamal Musiala, who continues to exhibit his world-class attacking capability on the tender age of 18, however I believe I will go along with Atleti’s Rodrigo de Paul. The 27 year-old Argentine worldwide, who not solely was thought of by many to be the most effective participant for Argentina within the Copa America this summer season, he was additionally an entire stud for Udinese in Serie A final season. Regardless of taking part in for a membership that completed 14th final season, he led all gamers in Serie A in anticipated assists in open play, so think about him on a group with Luis Suarez, Antoine Griezmann, Angel Correa, Joao Felix, and so forth. He may blow up! Decide: Rodrigo De Paul, Atletico Madrid

Thomas Rongen: U.S. midfielder Brenden Aaronson scored in every leg of the final spherical of qualifying and can proceed to take action for membership and nation. Decide: Brenden Aaronson, Purple Bull Salzburg

James Benge: There is not any factor as a real unknown on the Champions League stage, he says in a determined try to justify selecting a full Germany worldwide as a breakout participant of the group stage. However one factor that Erling Haaland and Dominik Szobszlai have taught us is that you could hardly ever do worse than selecting the following star attacker popping out of Purple Bull Salzburg. Karim Adeyemi excelled within the qualifier towards Brondby, is scoring at a formidable fee within the Austrian Bundesliga and is blessed with all of the uncooked attributes a contemporary striker wants. I can already hear the January rumor mill whirring up. Decide: Karim Adeyemi, Purple Bull Salzburg

Jonathan Johnson: We noticed glimpses of Tanguy Kouassi’s potential with PSG earlier than his first season with Bayern was disrupted by damage. He’ll step up in David Alaba’s absence and take everybody abruptly. Decide: Tanguy Kouassi, Bayern Munich

Roger Gonzalez: The younger Brazilian expertise is the following huge factor within the Ajax assault and with celebrity potential. The previous Sao Paulo speedster involves life on the European stage, produces purpose after purpose and continues to make Europe’s greatest golf equipment salivate at his potential. Decide: Antony, Ajax

Mike L. Goodman: For probably the most half, the most important performers this season are going to be gamers everyone knows about already: Your Mbappés  and Haalands and Robert Lewandowskis. However, if any group has a draw that lets them shock, it is Salzburg, and in the event that they do handle to get by way of the group and perhaps even win a spherical of 16 tie, it will be as a result of Aaronson taking part in a form of funky, inventive No. 9 excels on the most important stage. Decide: Brenden Aaronson, Purple Bull Salzburg

Des Norris: USMNT followers who have not been residing beneath a rock for the previous few months ought to already be conversant in the New Jersey native. With baggage of power and a nostril for purpose, Aaronson has hit the bottom working with the Austrian champions, netting two clutch targets towards Brøndby to safe the group’s group stage berth. A style of extra to come back? Fairly probably: Group G has been dubbed the Group of Life for a purpose. Decide: Brenden Aaronson, Purple Bull Salzburg | UEFA Champions League predictions: UCL winner, golden boot, breakout stars, shock group-stage eventualities, extra


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