Champions League Group C profile: Man City and Barca battle, Celtic can make impact
Lee Gormley | September 5, 2016
Champions League Group C profile
With European football back on our screens this September, Coral experts give Champions League Group C tips, as we examine all eight pools for the best punts and profile the teams, players and coaches.
There’s Premier League interest within this pool, as Pep Guardiola gets ready to set his Manchester City side up against former employers Barcelona, while Scottish Premiership champions Celtic look to make an impact and Bundesliga outfit Borussia Monchengladbach also feature.
It will be of no surprise that five-time European champions Barca enter as odds-on 2/5 favourites with Coral to secure top spot in Group C, though Man City are a tempting 5/2 price to achieve that feat under the tactical leadership of Catalan coach Guardiola.
Meanwhile, can Scottish giants Celtic enjoy more memorable European nights at Parkhead under the guidance of Brendan Rodgers? German representatives Gladbach also possess a talented squad, but can they can cause an upset?
Let’s look at the four teams in more detail…
La Liga giants Barcelona have been a dominant force in the Champions League for many years, winning the competition three times in the past six seasons, but they were forced to watch on as bitter El Clasico rivals Real Madrid triumphed in Milan last term.
With the added incentive of trying to wrestle the European crown back from their eternal enemies, Luis Enrique‘s side will be aiming to reign supreme once more and their challenging Group C opponents should test their resolve. Barca are 3/1 front-runners in the Champions League ouright betting to go all the way.
The Nou Camp club have a new-look roster this season after a summer of new arrivals and previous departures, but it’s their South American attacking trio of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar that will be relied upon again this term.
Other than that trio of goal threats, Enrique has an incredible squad to help him attempt to conquer Europe, with all of Andre Gomes, Samuel Umtiti, Paco Alcacer, Lucas Digne, Denis Suarez and Jasper Cillessen having recently arrived.
The capture of Spain international forward Alcacer from Valencia will provide an alternative attacking danger to the usual front three, while Portugal midfielder Gomes is a huge boost to the central areas to help the ageing Andres Iniesta.
Barca’s rearguard has also been bolstered by defenders Umtiti and Digne and new Dutch stopper Cillessen, providing Gerard Pique and Javier Mascherano with cover ahead of testing match-ups with Man City and challenging trips to Glasgow.
Andre Schubert’s Monchengladbach outfit enter Group C proceedings at 9/4 to earn progression to the knockout stage, but they face a tough journey towards doing so alongside attacking forces Barca and Man City.
The German club rallied to an impressive fourth-place finish last term to secure their spot in this season’s group stage, with the likes of on loan Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen, talented attacker Andre Hahn and fellow forward Thorgan Hazard having starred throughout.
Gladbach haven’t rested on their laurels either, opting to strengthen over the summer and add further quality among their current stars, with Germany international midfielder and World Cup winner Christoph Kramer being the most encouraging acquisition.
Christensen’s Denmark international defensive partner Jannik Vestergaard is another promising signing, having arrived from Werder Bremen, as the German outfit aim to hold their own in Group C against strong opposition.
Former Liverpool boss Rodgers is now at the Parkhead helm, after succeeding Ronny Deila, and he will hope to oversee Celtic’s rejuvenation in Europe after disappointing failures in recent seasons.
The Bhoys have endured a tough few campaigns in European competition, including last term’s disastrous Europa League outings, but the big nights under the lights of Celtic Park will soon be back against top opposition.
Celtic have a history of producing memorable upsets over European giants on home soil, in front of their truly rapturous supporters, with upcoming opponents Barcelona being one side to have tasted defeat there previously.
The Hoops are therefore 8/1 to progress from Group C to the knockout phase, with Rodgers’ men likely to rely on their home supremacy to gain points against testing teams.
In 1967 Celtic became the first British team to ever lift the European Cup, and they have enjoyed many gallant runs since then, including when reaching the final again in 1970 and finishing runners-up in the 2003 UEFA Cup.
Main marksman Leigh Griffiths will be key to any success on the European front, while summer signing Scott Sinclair will provide a new threat going forward, and will be involved in an interesting sub-plot when facing former side Man City.
With Barcelona and Man City likely to be leading the way for automatic progression, the Bhoys may have to settle for third place and a spot in the Europa League from Group C, though strong home outings could yet see them pull off a surprise.
Guardiola looks to have instilled a new sense of belief within his new Man City set-up, with the season having started brightly and the likes of Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling and Nolito playing key roles in early victories.
The Sky Blues reached their first-ever Champions League semi-final last term under former coach Manuel Pellegrini, losing out to eventual champions Real Madrid and, after a summer of rebuilding, they will be striving to go two steps further under Guardiola.
With a new system in place and a host of forward stars looking as clinical as ever, Man City are odds-on 2/9 to ease into the knockout stage, though they will be confident of getting the better of seemingly biggest group rivals Barca with their former mentor on board.
Guardiola will hold plenty of inside knowledge on the Barca side set to test his current club, though that didn’t necessarily help the Spaniard when with Bayern Munich in previous campaigns. Nevertheless, Man City a serious force now in Europe and their 12/1 outright price is very tempting.
Champions League Group C games
All matches are 19:45 UK time.
Tuesday, September 13th
Barcelona v Celtic
Manchester City v Borussia Monchengladbach
Wednesday, September 28th
Borussia Monchengladbach v Barcelona
Celtic v Manchester City
Wednesday, October 19th
Barcelona v Manchester City
Celtic v Borussia Monchengladbach
Tuesday, November 1st
Borussia Monchengladbach v Celtic
Manchester City v Barcelona
Wednesday, November 23rd
Borussia Monchengladbach v Manchester City
Celtic v Barcelona
Tuesday, December 6th
Barcelona v Borussia Monchengladbach
Manchester City v Celtic
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