Saturday 21 January 2017

GROUP D

Published 11/09/2011 | 05:00

Real Madrid, Lyon, Ajax, Dinamo Zagreb

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It has been a curious summer at Real Madrid with Jose Mourinho's battle with sporting director Jorge Valdano overshadowing the transfer comings and goings (who would have thought that Mourinho would want to be centre of attention?). It's a battle that Mourinho won and now the two-time Champions League winner seemingly has total control of the club.

The summer transfer business has reflected Mourinho's new power. At €30m, Fabio Coentrao is the biggest acquisition, while elsewhere Mourinho has been shopping in Germany, adding Turkish duo Hamit Altintop from Bayern Munich and Nuri Sahin from Dortmund. Mourinho now has so many players at his disposal that he could send out several different teams. Karim Benzema seems to be finally showing the kind of form the persuaded Real to pay €35m to Lyon for his services two years ago, but Cristiano Ronaldo remains the key man.

Benzema will face his old team Lyon, who have been usurped as Ligue 1's big spenders by Paris Saint-Germain. Lyon have had a quiet summer and may well still be haunted by the €22m they paid last year for Yoann Gourcuff, who has yet to deliver. Coached by former Arsenal player Remi Garde, Lyon could struggle to finish in the top two under pressure from Ajax, who have spread the money received from Liverpool for Luis Suarez around their squad, and Dinamo Zagreb who can cause trouble, especially at home.

Key player: Cristiano Ronaldo

Key game: Ajax v Lyon, Sept 14

Prediction: 1 Real Madrid, 2 Ajax, 3 Lyon, 4 Dinamo Zagreb

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