Champions League Group H Predicted Finishes

August 30th, 2012

Here is a synopsis of each club and their projected finishes from Leander Schaerlaeckens. To see all of Leander’s predictions, click here or on the “predictions” tag below.

1. MANCHESTER UNITED

Champions league titles: 3 (1 as the European Cup)

United reacted angrily to their “noisy neighbors” snatching away the title in the dying seconds last season by going out and signing Robin van Persie and Shinji Kagawa. The former you know about; the latter’s the one to keep your eye on. Brilliant with Borussia Dortmund, he’s being tapped to steer the offense and pick up the reins from Paul Scholes and Nani. Key for the Red Devils is the play of David De Gea and Nemanja Vidic. The former has to become a full-time Premiership keeper – the latter has to stay healthy and marshal an erratic defense.

2. GALATASARAY

Champions League titles: 0

One of the two traditional Turkish powers, Galatasaray are famed for their uncompromising style of play and rowdy fans. Johan Elmander and Hamit Altitop remain key players and Milan Baros is still scoring goals. They’ve added Felipe Melo on loan and Fernando Muslera is the backstop. You don’t want to play them in Turkey, where their crowds make life difficult. On the road they are less of a threat but they can stalemate as well as anyone.

3. CLUJ

Champions League titles: 0

The Transylvanians are one of the eccentrics of this competition, downing wee Basel to take their place. The Railwaymen have been around for a long time, but have rarely made an impact on the European stage. But what is unusual about this team is their Portuguese flair: they have eleven guys who speak the language, with two Brazilians in Rafael Bastos and Ronny. One-time Portugal U-21 star Cadu captains and helms the defense with French import Nicolas Godameche bringing the heat in midfield. No, Cluj are not flashy nor are the Romanians sexy. They may well be cannon fodder.

4. BRAGA

Champions League titles: 0

Sporting Braga aren’t one of Portugal’s big three teams, but over the past few decades they have become one of the “best of the rest.” They won the Intertoto Cup in 2008 and got their best European result ever when they were runners up in the 2010-11 Europa League, losing to Porto 1-0 in the final. This year they squeaked in on PKs after playing Udinese to a stalemate. Their team has several big names: Keeper Quim is a long-time vet who played in the 2008 World Cup; Helder Postiga, Elderson and Leandro Salino are all class talents.