2016-2017 UEFA Champions League Group H Preview & Prediction

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Mandatory Photo Credit: UEFA

By Piero Fiorino & Richard Bowman

With the new soccer(or football) campaign underway, that means Champions League is right around the corner. The groups are set and now we wait for the games to be played. In group H, we have the kings of Serie A, Juventus followed by the always tough Sevilla, as well as two good teams in Dinamo Zagreb and Olympique Lyonnais. There’re many interesting storylines in this group, it was Sevilla who upset Juventus in the final game of the group stage last year that helped Manchester City finish top in the group as Juventus got drawn against Bayern Munich. There will be revenge on Juventus’ mind as they want to write that wrong. Sevilla finished third in the group, however, they went on to win the Europa League. Many will predict those two to top the group but don’t be surprised if Lyon or Zagreb make it to the round of 16.

Group H

Group H Predictions 

Piero Fiorino

Team

Wins

Draws

Losses

Points

Qualification

 Juventus  4  2  0  14  Round of 16
 Sevilla  3  2  1  11  Round of 16
 Olympique Lyonnais  2  1  2  7  Europa League
 Dinamo Zagreb  0  2  4  2  N/A

 

Richard Bowman

Team

Wins

Draws

Losses

Points

Qualification

 Juventus  4  2  0  14 Round of 16
 Olympique Lyonnais  2  3  1  9 Round of 16
 Sevilla  1  3  2 6  Europa League
 Dinamo Zagreb  0  3  3 3  N/A

 

Questions and Storylines For Each Team

Juventus

Can Juventus prove that they’re a top 4 club and top the group?

Piero Fiorino: There is no reason to believe Juventus won’t completely dominate their group. With additions like Gonzalo Higuain and Dani Alves, Juve should have no trouble topping the group again and show they can compete with anyone.

Richard Bowman: Yes, if there was ever a year to top the group again for Juventus then it’s this year. Allegri & co. should learn from last year’s campaign and top this group.

How will the additions of Dani Alves, Gonzalo Higuain, and Miralem Pjanic help?

Piero Fiorino: Alves was brought in to beef up the defense, and that is exactly what he will look to do. Miralem Pjanic will help to solidify that midfield after the loss of Paul Pogba, and Higuain is a proven goal-scorer which is what Juve has been looking for.

Richard Bowman: All three give Juventus some much-needed firepower in their own way. With Alves, Juventus get a workhouse who can also defend at a high level, plus get in on the attack with his creativity. Pjanic will provide the creativity the midfield has lacked since Pirlo departed, and Higuain is a world-class striker with CL experience.

Key factor and most important player for Juventus in the group stage is?

Piero Fiorino

Key Factor: The defense will really have to step up and be the key factor that contributes to Juventus’ advancement past the group stage. Giorgio Chiellini, Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci, and Dani Alves will all look to lock that back line up and help Gianluigi Buffon as they progress through the tournament.

Important Player: Any of the 4 defensemen.

Richard Bowman

Key Factor: Efficiency of the midfield. Juventus’ weak point is their midfield, it’s still strong but not strong enough to compete toe to toe with the elite of Europe yet. There’s quality there but how much success Juve has this CL campaign will depend on how everyone in the midfield plays.

Important Player: Sami Khedira and Claudio Marchisio’s recovery.

Sevilla

Can Sevilla build off the experience and momentum of winning Europa League in this year’s Champions League?

Piero Fiorino: After Sevilla’s win at the Europa League, there seems to be nothing that can really get in their way. Sevilla should be able to bring the momentum from that big win to this year’s tournament and have some success doing it.

Richard Bowman: Sevilla is a quality team and now has some much-needed experience in Europe, however, they’ll need to be careful. Sevilla can’t just assume they’ll get 2nd place in the group, they’ll need to come out and play with something to prove.

Could the additions of Franco Vasquez, Sam Nasri, and Salvatore Sirigu help give Sevilla an added edge?

Piero Fiorino: As a whole, they should have no problem making a difference for their team.

Richard Bowman: Franco Vasquez is quality and should start getting some love outside of Italy with his move to Sevilla. It’s not clear right now what type of role both Nasri and Sirigu will have with Sevilla but if both are on top of their game then it just makes an already good squad that much better.

Key factor and most important player for Sevilla in the group stage is?

Piero Fiorino

Key Factor: They play as a team. No one player will be able to carry this team, so Sevilla will look to compliment each other and move forward past the group stage together.

Important Player: Franco Vasquez

Richard Bowman

Key Factor: They come out with a blue collar attitude and with something to prove after last CL’s third-place group finish.

Important Player: Franco Vasquez

Olympique Lyonnais

Can Lyon build of their Ligue 1 success last season and finish top 2 in Group H?

Piero Fiorino: Ligue 1 success doesn’t hold much weight when it comes to major tournaments. Lyonnais just doesn’t have the fire power to keep up with teams like Sevilla or Juventus. They’ll finish 3rd in the group.

Richard Bowman: I like Lyon for some reason and while Ligue 1 is a fairly weak league compared to Spain, Germany, Italy, and England. I believe they’ll hold their own in the group.

Chances Alexandre Lacazette will make his mark in Champions League in the group stage?

Piero Fiorino: Lacazette will have to carry this Lyon team if they hope to have a shot at moving on past the group stage. Lacazette comes into this tournament with 6 total goals and 9-13 shots on target vs. shots ratio.

Richard Bowman: Lacazette can score goals at a high rate and when you can do that then you can make your mark in any competition. Don’t be surprised if Lacazette leads the group in goals scored.

Key factor and most important player for Olympique Lyonnais in the group stage is?

Piero Fiorino

Key Factor: This team will absolutely have to score to keep up with the firepower Sevilla and Juventus have.

Important Player: Alexandre Lacazette

Richard Bowman

Key Factor: Lacazette’s production.

Important Player: Alexandre Lacazette

Dinamo Zagreb

Can Dinamo Zagreb bounce back after last year’s disappointing Champions League performance?

Piero Fiorino: With teams like Juventus and Sevilla in this group, it’s really just a battle for 3rd or 4th at this point for Dinamo Zagreb.

Richard Bowman: I have a soft spot for Croatian Soccer but I just don’t see it.

Impact it would have on soccer in Croatia if Dinamo Zagreb can make it to the round of 16?

Piero Fiorino: Although unlikely, if Dinamo can make it out of the group stage, I could see more transfers opening up for the Croatians; not to mention the increase of interest in the Croation First Football league that will more than likely occur.

Richard Bowman: Croatia is a highly underrated soccer country, they’ve produced some quality players over the years so this will only help accelerate that, however, like Piero said it is unlikely to happen.

Key factor and most important player for Dinamo Zagreb in the group stage is?

Piero Fiorino

Key Factor: Focus on the counter-attack. Dinamo Zagreb doesn’t have the firepower needed to outscore the other teams, but if they can manage to keep the ball out of their own goal, they have a chance at being able to catch the others off guard with players like Junior Fernandez and Armin Hodzic.

Important Player: Junior Fernandez

Richard Bowman

Key Factor: The midfield’s creativity. Dinamo has some nice midfielders that can be creative so it’ll be up to them to try their best to dictate the games if they want to have a chance.

Important Player: Soudani


Writers note: If you enjoyed this article or would like to tell us your opinion on the group then feel free to comment below or hit us up on twitter @PieroFiorino and @SGSFranchise. Also, don’t forget to follow @SportsTalkFeed for all your latest sports news and talk! 

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