Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund, Galatasaray and Anderlecht make up an intriguing Group D where the bookmakers can’t separate the top two. That’s a bit unfair on the Gunners given their consistency in the Champions League compared to Dortmund’s two year acceleration into the European football stratosphere. They went from Group Stage departees in 2011/12, to beaten finalists and everyone’s favourite team in 2012/13 and then rather worryingly to a quarter final exit last season.
Let’s start with the Germans then. They are simply not the side they were when they won so many fans, they have lost world class players and I don’t think their replacements are as good. The key one is Ciro Immobile trying to fill Robert Lewandowski’s boots. The Italian had a break-out season in Serie A last year, but is untested in the Champions League. Lewandowski guaranteed goals. Obviously they still have quality players in Reus, Hummels, Mkhitaryan, Bender and so on but watching them lose 2-0 to Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga last week made me wonder if they’ve had their best years as a team.
They always qualify for the Champions League and find their way out of the group. They have reached the last 16 for the last four seasons, but haven’t been further since 2010. Their problem last season was finishing second after beating Dortmund in Germany, a draw at Napoli would have seen them finish top, but they lost 2-0. They were locked on 12 points with Jurgen Klopp’s men but had an inferior goal difference in the head-to-head between the two of them. You can see why the bookies have got this so tight, can’t you? If you think one goal separated them and I’m questioning whether Immobile can bring as much to the party as Lewandowski, who incidentally scored the winner at the Emirates, then you’ll understand why I’m edging towards the English side to win this group.
Arsenal do have their own problems, with Olivier Giroud out with a long term injury, but they’ll be hoping new signing Danny Welbeck can fit into this silky smooth passing style of Arsene Wenger’s immediately. I think he may do something similar to Daniel Sturridge when his move to Liverpool unearthed a new lease of life.
Without being unkind to Anderlecht, they have no chance of qualifying here and may not improve on the one point they amassed in the 2013/14 groups stages, so we will be ignoring their soccer odds. Galatasaray may be a thorn in the sides of the English and German teams though.
The Turkish side have been to the last 16 and quarter finals in the last two seasons and played very well in the group stages against Juventus last time. They drew 2-2 in Turin and beat them 1-0 at home. I’ve been a fan of Burak Yilmaz and Umut Bulut for a couple of seasons now and they’ve made me money at decent anytime goal scorer prices. They have lost Drogba to Chelsea, but have brought in Goran Pandev from Napoli.
They have got used to playing top sides and getting results, they beat Manchester United in the group stages of the 2012/13 competition and were eventually ousted by Real Madrid in the quarter finals that season. It may be a bit much to ask them beating wither Dortmund or Arsenal to qualification, but they will definitely make it very hard for them.
Free Soccer Betting Pick
In summary I’m going to recommend Arsenal to pip Dortmund to top spot, and back the straight forecast of those two teams in first and second place as soccer picks.