Sport Soccer

Sunday 28 May 2017

GROUP H

Barcelona, Milan, Bate Borisov, Viktoria Plzen

There is a sense that the only thing that can stop Barcelona in their quest to win a third Champions League in four years is Barcelona themselves.

Their coach, Pep Guardiola, has become almost puritanical in his desire to keep adding flair to his squad and while there's no doubt that Alexis Sanchez and Cesc Fabregas are both world-class players, Guardiola will have to continue flooding his defence with midfielders if they are all to get a game.

But it is the old reliables of Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi who will no doubt be the key if Barcelona are lift the trophy in Munich next May.

Italian champions Milan desperately need a good season to re-establish themselves as a European superpower and after a summer of searching, Massimiliano Allegri has settled on Liverpool's Alberto Aquilani as his missing link in midfield. If Antonio Cassano and Zlatan Ibrahimovic deliver on the biggest stage then they can progress to the last eight or beyond.

Not that there is too much to worry the two giants of Europe in this group. The Belarus champions Bate Borisov are in the group stage for the second time, while the Czech Republic's Viktoria Plzen are making their debut. They may as well resign themselves now to a battle for third-place which earns qualification for the knockout stages of the Europa League.

Key player: Andres Iniesta (left)

Key game: Milan v Barcelona, Nov 23

Prediction: 1 Barcelona, 2 Milan, 3 Bate Borisov, 4 Viktoria Plzen

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