CL Group C Qualifying odds
Champions League 2019/2020: To Qualify from Group C?
Group C - Atalanta, Dinamo Zagreb, Manchester City, Shakhtar Donetsk
There’s only one place to start in Group C and that’s with Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup winners last season, City are looking to make the same kind of impact on the European stage as they have done domestically. Had it not been for VAR, they may well have won the competition last season – against Tottenham, Raheem Sterling thought he had scored the goal which would have taken his side to the semi-finals only for it to be chalked off by the video replay officials. Manchester City have not spent on the same scale as they have in previous seasons (just the £142million this time!), but where they have recruited, they have done so wisely. Rodri, a holding midfielder very much in the mold of Sergio Busquets, was brought in from Athletico Madrid – an acquisition which provides a ready-made replacement for the aging Fernandinho. Joao Cancelo was another addition, the full-back giving Manchester strength in what had been one of their weaker positions. Given their dominance in England, even in the face of a title challenge from a superb Liverpool side, and there hunger to prove themselves on the biggest club stage of all, you wouldn’t bet against Guardiola’s man lifting the Champions League trophy in eight months time and you certainly wouldn’t expect them to finish in any position other than 1st in Group C.
As for the rest of the group, the competition is very balanced. It will be particularly fascinating to see Atalanta in action in what is their maiden Champions League voyage. Gian Piero Gasperini inspired his side to a 3rd place finish in Serie A last season, a result which was an unprecedented upset in Italy. They will be hoping to capitalize on their remarkable recent form and go as far as they can in the Champions League; it will be a special experience for their fans who are more used to competing against mid-table sides rather than Europe’s elite.
It will not be easy for Atalanta, however. They face equally hungry opposition in the form of Shaktar Donetsk and Dinamo Zagreb, two teams who have become familiar faces in the Champions League in recent years. Shakhtar Donetsk in particular, the reigning Ukrainian champions, will be a tough test. Luis Castro’s side will be sick of the sight of Manchester City having now been drawn against them three years running, finishing runners up and in 3rd place in each of the last two. Their's is a team made up of a number of a mixture of flair players, many of whom are from Brazil as per Shaktar’s business model, and robust, reliable defensive options. This combination ensures that they are capable of springing a surprise against any team in Europe, as they showed when they defeated Manchester City two seasons ago. What about Dinamo Zagreb? Well, they too are a strong side having won back-to-back Croatian titles. They were unsuccessful in the Champions League last year, however, failing to progress past Swiss side Young Boys in the last play-off round before the group stages. Having already bettered this record this time around, they will be confident they are in with a shot of a second-place finish in Group C in 2019/20.