The unforgiving grace of the UEFA Champions League draw has gifted soccer fans around the globe one of the most formidable groups of death in recent memory in this year’s Group C.
FC Barcelona, a Spanish giant.
Rebuilt from the ashes, a phoenix under the helm of its legendary maestro Xavi Hernández.
FC Bayern Munich, a classic in the competition looking to lay a Bavarian claim on the continental stage for the second time in as many calendar years.
Finally, an Inter Milan that has made good on its return to domestic glory, unproven in the new European arena.
Anything is possible with an FC Viktoria Plzeň looking to crash the group, wielders of the potent magic of the upset.
Last season was nothing short of disappointing for the Catalans after getting knocked out in the group stages and into the Europa League.
To make matters worse, Barça, saw itself eliminated in the quarterfinals at the talons of eventual champions Eintracht Frankfurt after a 3-2 loss at home.
But be wary of the beast.
This Barcelona squad is the strongest Barça side since the days of a certain Lionel Messi.
Xavi’s side has had one of the most complete summer transfer windows in the past decade.
The additions of promising LaLiga center-back Jules Koundé and Serie A champion Franck Kessié add power to a team of delicate tiki-taka finesse.
Neymar’s reincarnation, not Malcolm, Raphinha adds a thorn to any opponent’s side in an attack bolstered by a goal machine, the Torjägerkanone Robert Lewandowski.
It all has to come together for Xavi and the Culers in a Group C that will test their limits.
A Novo Barça under the young wings of Ansu Fati, Pedri and Ronald Araujo with Xavi keeping the hyped boys in Blaugrana from flying too close to the sun.
Group Prediction: First
The loss of Robert Lewandowski to group rivals Barcelona was sure to hurt Bayern at some point.
With Julian Nagelsmann living under the shadow of Hansi Flick’s 2020 sextuple side, a group of death draw was last on a Nagelsmann’s Christmas list headed by Sadio Mané.
But summer signings Noussair Mazraoui and Matthijs de Ligt have changed the air in Munich from a team robbed of its star to a new system of rising talents.
Amongst the favorites, dominance, power, and speed make Bayern’s identity.
A Bavarian machine fueled by its league-leading 17 goals in five matches.
Bayern will need to take care of Barcelona in an effort to head the group of death.
The return of Robert Lewandowski to the Allianz arena will mark the imminent collision of two powerhouses looking to prove themselves.
Xavi, a legend returning his boyhood club to its perch among the elite.
Nagelsmann, a tactician with all the right tools and an expectation of performance towering above him, etched on every star illuminating Bayern’s emblem.
Group Prediction: Second
It’s been rough sailing following Inter’s Seria A coronation in 2021.
The current Coppa Italia and Suppercoppa Italiana holders are sitting at a lowly 8th in Serie A.
The return of Romelu Lukaku hasn’t proved fruitful while the departure of Ivan Perišić has seemingly proved a mistake with the Croatian racking up three assists in seven matches for Tottenham.
Inter must turn their season around in the highest stage of world soccer or risk their season going down a too familiar drain for the Nerazzurri.
Name and reputation give them the credentials.
But they will need to knock off the two giants atop their group for a chance at the European glory their badge deserves.
— Inter (@Inter_es) September 5, 2022
Group Prediction: Third
The weaker of the teams in the group, FC Viktoria Plzeň is every Champions League fan’s favorite team archetype: the upsetting underdog.
Plzeň finds itself in Group C after beating Finland’s HJK Helsinki, Moldova’s ace in Sheriff Tiraspol and Azerbaijani champions Qarabağ.
A strong Champions League showing could boost the Czech team into its first round of 16 appearance in club history.
A team outside Europe’s top five leagues, Viktoria Plzeň can find victory in finding itself dancing on the pitch of Europe’s elite to the sounds of the UCL anthem.
Group C on the other hand, may be too tall of an order.
— FC Viktoria Plzeň 🇬🇧 (@fcviktoria_en) September 6, 2022
Group Prediction: Fourth.