Champions League Group G Preview






To Win Group G
Atletico Madrid 6/5
FC Porto 9/5
Zenit St Peters 3/1
Austria Vienna 33/1

FC Porto: Juan Fernando Quintero

The magnificent young Colombian was outstanding at the Under-20 World Cup and, having signed for FC Porto as a replacement for compatriot James Rodriguez, will likely have the Estadio Dragao purring before too long.

A No. 10 brimming with magnificent vision, intelligent movement and no shortage of technical qualities, Quintero arrived in Portugal for a measly £4.4 million earlier this summer; by the time Porto decide to sell to one of Europe’s big hitters, expect him to cost at least five times as much.

Blessed with a devastating left foot capable of bludgeoning the ball towards goal from distance or carving open opposing defences with a deft through pass, Quintero is a player who seeks responsibility and looks to make things happen.

New Porto boss Paulo Fonseca has looked to ease the 20-year-old into life with the Portuguese champions. But having already scored a goal and made a match-winning assist in his three substitute outings so far, it won’t be long before Quintero makes a guaranteed starting place his own, whether playing inverted from the right or in his favoured central position.

Atletico Madrid: David Villa

Having left Barcelona in the summer, Spain’s record goalscorer David Villa decided to head for Madrid and Diego Simeone’s continually improving Atletico, as replacement for Radamel Falcao.

The 31-year-old, a bargain at just £4.4 million, offers Atletico a clinical, razor sharp edge in and around the penalty area, and while a serious leg injury sustained in 2011 may have robbed him of a yard of pace, the stealthy movement and goalscoring nous remains.

Having spent much of his time at Camp Nou occupying a wide position, Villa is back in his preferred central role alongside the hard-working Diego Costa in Simeone’s compact 4-4-2 formation, keeping him closer to the opponent’s penalty box from where he can do his best work.

And with two goals already to his name, including an absolute blockbluster in the Spanish Super Cup against his former club, Villa looks to be enjoying himself.

A side who give away very little, Atletico will ask questions of Europe’s best this season and could be potential dark horses.

Zenit St Petersburg: Axel Witsel

The all-action Belgian midfielder made a staggering £35 million move to Russian club Zenit St Petersburg a year ago and, having initially struggled to acclimatise or to find his best form, is now looking far more at home.

Having spent 2012-13 changing position a lot as Luciano Spalletti looked to get the most from his side, the former Benfica man has made a central-midfield berth alongside mainstay Roman Shirokov his own this season, and it has coincided with Witsel beginning to show something like his best.

A good passer, strong tackler and capable carrier, the 24-year-old is very much the prototype for the modern midfielder, though he does need to add a greater goal threat to his game—he’s without a goal in 12 games with Zenit so far this season.

Nonetheless, a player of great quality, opponents can’t afford to give Witsel time or space when he comes to town.

Austria Vienna: Heinz Lindner

The 23-year-old could be in for a busy time in Group G, with Austria Vienna looking outmatched in the face of three vastly experienced European campaigners.

With over 100 league appearances to his name already and five international caps also—Lindner finds himself pushing Robert Almer for the No. 1 spot for Das Team— the Austria Vienna stopper will look to further enhance his growing reputation.

Austria Vienna came through a tricky qualifying tie against Dinamo Zagreb to qualify for the group stages and in the third qualifying round Lindner put in an excellent display in the 2-0 win over Dinamo in Zagreb.