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UEFA Champions League: Group F Preview

Gabe Quintela |
September 17, 2013 | 2:26 p.m. PDT

Staff Writer

Robert Lewandowski was a revelation in last year's UEFA campaign. (Wikimedia Commons)
Robert Lewandowski was a revelation in last year's UEFA campaign. (Wikimedia Commons)
Borussia Dortmund

Qualified as: 2nd place in Bundesliga

Key acquisitions: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Sokratis 

Key departures: Mario Gotze, Felipe Santana 

Best result in competition: Won the UEFA Champions League in 1997

Dortmund are front-runners in this competition, having finished in top positions throughout the last several years. Yet, despite an often impressive performance, Dortmund always find themselves overshadowed, consistently topped by their domestic rivals in Bayern Munich, to whom they finished second in both the Champions League and the Bundesliga last season. To make matters worse, Mario Gotze, Dortmund’s star playmaker, transferred to Bayern over the summer. 

Dortmund is now left in an interesting position, trying to overtake a Bayern side that they can’t seem to pull away from. The addition of Armenian midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan has helped replace Gotze, as the ex-Shaktar man has already scored three goals in his first four games for Dortmund. The team was also able to retain striker Robert Lewandowski and add Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who should be a dynamic threat going forward in this competition.

Prediction: This is an extremely competitive group but expect Dortmund to advance to the round of 16. Fueled by the fiery attitude of coach Jurgen Klopp and an impressive home crowd, I don’t see the German side falling short in the group stage.  

Olympic de Marseille

Qualified as: 2nd place in French Ligue 1

Key acquisitions: Florian Thauvin, Dimitri Payet

Key departures: None

Best result in competition: Won the UEFA Champions League in 1993

This is an exciting team with a big upside, finishing second in an often overlooked French league. With a lot of young talent coming in via exciting players like Payet, Thauvin and Mathieu Valbuena, Marseille is a team that could potentially surprise in this group. 

Prediction: I don’t think Marseille will advance to the round of 16 but they bring an interesting dynamic to this group. The French side presents the possibility of becoming a spoiler team to the other serious contenders in this competition. If Marseille can take points from Arsenal or Napoli they can cause problems for those teams going forward, perhaps even ruining their chances at advancing out of the group. 

Arsene Wenger is on the hot seat at the Emirates. (Wikimedia Commons)
Arsene Wenger is on the hot seat at the Emirates. (Wikimedia Commons)
SEE MORE: UEFA Champions League: Group E

Arsenal FC

Qualified as: 4th in the English Premier League, won qualifier over Fenerbahce

Key acquisition: Mesut Ozil

Key departures: Gervinho 

Best result in competition: Semi-finalist in 2009

Arsenal has struggled in major European competition in the last several years. A lack of depth in their line up, throughout the last couple years, makes it difficult to play well in both domestic competition and the Champions League when games happen in such tight succession. Yet, the signing of Mesut Ozil is one of the best things that could have happened to increase Arsenal’s title hopes. Ozil revolutionizes this team and with Oliver Giroud playing in his current form (4 goals in his last 4 games) Arsenal has the opportunity to make the Champions League run they’ve been waiting on all these years. 

Prediction: I think Arsenal advances out of this group in second place behind Dortmund. It won’t be easy as Napoli and Marseille are strong sides but if Ozil is given the opportunity to control the midfield as he has and Arsenal can limit mistakes from the back line advancing from this group is very possible. 

SSC Napoli

Qualified as: 2nd in Seria A 

Key acquisitions: Gonzalo Higuain, Pepe Reina, Raul Albiol, Jose Callejon, Dries Mertens, Pablo Armero

Key departure: Edinson Cavani 

Best result in competition: Round of 16 in 2012

Napoli had one of the most impressive summer transfer windows of any team in Europe. Despite losing Cavani, who scored 36 goals last year, Napoli added three top offensive weapons in Higuain, Callegon, and Mertens who should do a fine job replacing the production from Cavani last season. Napoli also picked up two great defensive players in Albiol and Armero who should really strengthen up the back line of the Italian side going forward.

Prediction: While I believe that Arsenal and Dortmund will be the two teams advancing out of this group, there would be no surprise in seeing Napoli in the round of 16.  

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