Published On: Thu, Aug 25th, 2016

How England's 4 teams will fare in the Champions League group stage

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Just as the Premier League was becoming a predictable affair, with the same four clubs booking berths in Europe’s top competition every campaign, Leicester City snatched the spotlight, solidifying a Pot 1 spot in its maiden Champions League attempt.

Joining Claudio Ranieri’s storybook Foxes is Tottenham, which returns to the Champions League after a five-year hiatus, and European regulars Arsenal and Manchester City.

With four English sides vying for a spot in the last 16, here’s a look at the groups, using UEFA’s club coefficient – a metric determined using a five-year window of domestic and continental efforts – and how they’ll likely fare:

Leicester City

Club Nation UEFA rank
Leicester City ENG 99
FC Porto POR 12
Club Brugge BEL 45
FC Copenhagen DAN 81

Breakdown: Leicester City supporters rejoice. Your lot have avoided a challenging draw that many other Pot 1 clubs face. On the surface, only the 2004 Champions League winner and Primeira Liga runner-up Porto appears a threat, though both Club Brugge and FC Copenhagen won their domestic leagues by decent margins, and boast more continental experience than the East Midlands upstarts.

Best-case scenario: Three victories at the King Power and a draw at Copenhagen give Leicester a group-best 10 points and a knockout stage date with Rostov, which finishes second in Group D after Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid are found guilty of match-fixing.

Worst-case scenario: Leicester actually faces an injury crisis this season (Apologies, Jeffrey Schlupp) and Nampalys Mendy fails to fill the void vacated by N’Golo Kante. The Foxes finish third, and spend Thursdays in Cyprus playing Apollon Limassol.

Arsenal

Club Nation UEFA rank
Paris Saint-Germain FRA 6
Arsenal ENG 11
FC Basel SWI 20
Ludogorets BUL 67

Breakdown: For once, Arsenal has been gifted a rather straightforward draw from Pot 2. Paris Saint-Germain and its competition specialist, manager Unai Emery, will pose a threat for group honours, though Arsenal has fared well in France in 12 prior attempts, pairing eight victories with four draws. Mohamed Elneny and Granit Xhaka will look forward to facing former side FC Basel, while the trip to Razgrad to face Ludogorets will be a chance for the kids to play midweek football.

Best-case scenario: Despite Emery’s best efforts, PSG is a shadow of its former self sans Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Arsenal tops the group and draws Lyon in the knockout stage, with Olivier Giroud starring for the Gunners against failed summer signing Alexandre Lacazette.

Worst-case scenario: Arsenal replicates last season’s dire results against Olympiacos and Dinamo Zagreb by losing in Bulgaria after second-choice shot-stopper David Ospina has a howler.

Manchester City

Club Nation UEFA rank
Barcelona SPA 3
Manchester City ENG 13
Monchengladbach GER 41
Celtic SCO 46

Breakdown: Ouch. While the other three English teams received straightforward draws, Manchester City is faced with the tournament’s de facto “Group of Death.” If Barcelona is an unenviable task, Borussia Monchengladbach is an unnecessary annoyance. Celtic is also in the group. Doubt Pep Guardiola’s even taken notice of Brendan Rodgers’ squad.

Best-case scenario: A Spanish tribunal chaired by Txiki Begiristain files a grievance with the Lionel Messi tax ruling, and the pint-sized goal machine spends a year in jail. Luis Suarez takes a massive bite out of Neymar‘s leg, and both miss the tilt at Camp Nou, which City wins 8-0 courtesy of a sextuplet of goals from Fabian Delph.

Worst-case scenario: Barcelona wins the group, Monchengladbach stuns City at the Etihad, and last year’s semi-finalist finishes third, booking a spot in the Europa League.

Tottenham

Club Nation UEFA rank
CSKA Moscow RUS 47
Bayer Leverkusen GER 15
Tottenham ENG 21
Monaco FRA 48

Breakdown: With a return to Champions League football after five years in the continent’s second-rate tourney, Tottenham will be buoyed by a group that features arguably the worst Pot 1 side, CSKA Moscow. With that in mind, Bayer Leverkusen and Monaco are hardly facile tasks.

Best-case scenario: With Ahmed Musa gone, CSKA will provide little challenge, and when Manchester United pay £80 million for Monaco defender Fabinho, Leo Jardim’s principality lot will be half the side they were when Thursday’s draw took place. Bayer Leverkusen‘s bus gets lost on the way to White Hart Lane, and Hakan Calhanoglu runs off with the circus, where he performs free-kicks for food.

Worst-case scenario: Desperately missing Thursday night football, Spurs finish third in the group a return to Europa League football, while Mauricio Pochettino steps down to take a gig managing the Tampa Bay Rowdies.



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