Group G does not have the big names many consider when thinking of great UEFA Champions League teams. There is no Paris Saint Germain, no Real Madrid, no Bayern Munich, no Manchester City. Instead, there are four teams that clawed their way to the 2021/22 UEFA Champions League.
The group contains the French league champions, a Spanish European champion, a competitive Bundesliga team and a relative newcomer to the European scene might make it seem like it is the four aforementioned teams. However, these four teams flew under the radar, relatively speaking.
Champions League fans overlooked Group G in favor of groups of death or juicy matchups among Europe’s elite. Still, in terms of true competitiveness and balance, this group provides something the other seven cannot.
Yet, many still disregard the group. Furthermore, two opening-matchday draws did not make the group glamorous.
But, this group will still be one of the best this season.
Group G broken down
Lille pulled off a monumental upset to replace PSG as the Ligue 1 champions. They’re a good side that has churned attacking talent and has had European success before.
Despite the success, this season started sluggishly for Les Dogues. One win from their opening six Ligue Un matches set them wildly behind the pace. Interestingly, PSG, the team unseated by Lille in Ligue Un, is a perfect six wins from six this season. Moreover, Lille’s success caused PSG to go out and have one of the best transfer windows in recent memory.
As of now, Lille is 15th in France’s Ligue 1. Early signs point to success in the Champions League for Jocelyn Gourvennec’s men to be the way for Lille to bring joy to their fans this season. A scoreless draw is not a bad start, but not a great start by any means.
Sevilla took a solid step during the summer transfer window. Their stubborn stance on a Jules Koundé transfer kept the Frenchman in Spain to the dismay of Chelsea fans.
Then, many neglected their incoming signings. Sevilla manager Julien Lopetegui acquired Erik Lamela, Thomas Delaney, and Rafa Mir.
Along with a productive transfer window, Sevilla possesses something the other clubs in Group G do not: European success. No one should overlook their six Europa League or UEFA Cup crowns in 15 years.
Sevilla is sixth in Spain’s LaLiga: they’ve taken eight points in four games, with a game in hand on much of the league.
Wolfsburg is one of the more exciting teams in the Champions League. Wolfsburg’s main goal-scoring outlet, Wout Weghorst, impressed fans and critics alike with his performance in the Euros. Lukas Nmecha is a good prospect, as is Maxence Lacroix.
More prestigious teams in Germany’s top flight mask Wolfsburg’s squad. Die Wölfe has a lot of good players who can perform in the Champions League as well.
Wolfsburg has had a red-hot start to the Champions League, winning all four of their Bundesliga games to go top of the table. Unfortunately, for Wolfsburg at least, their first slip came in gameweek five, when the club drew against Eintracht Frankfurt. This allowed Bayern Munich to jump them in the standings.
Red Bull Salzburg
RB Salzburg consistently dominates in the Austrian top division. Twelve Austrian Bundesliga titles in the last 15 seasons is no simple feat.
In addition to domestic success, the club has a track record of upsetting other European teams. RB Leipzig, Lazio, Ajax and Villarreal all fell to the Austrian club. Interestingly, those teams resemble the Salzburg’s opponents in Group G. Karim Adeyemi is one of the best players on the team, but their power comes from their well-constructed squad.
This season is the same story for Salzburg in the Austrian Bundesliga. An early seven wins from seven games has them seven points clear at the top.
Which teams manage to advance
Sevilla should advance. Recently, Sevilla showed consistency in terms of qualification for the Champions League both via the Europa League and LaLiga play. Granted, their squad lacks the firepower of their Spanish rivals each year, but that speaks to the belief and coaching in the dressing room at Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium. Surely, the club takes advantage of avoiding the powerhouses of European soccer this season.
READ MORE: How to watch the UEFA Champions League on U.S. TV.
Wolfsburg looks like a better candidate than Salzburg or Lille to finish second. Their hustle and critical finishing look like they can outplay the flashy offenses of the two. It also helps when domestic performances are strong to boost confidence ahead of Group G games.
For third place, and a possible crucial demotion to the UEFA Europa League, Salzburg looks better equipped and prepared than their French counterparts in Lille. Salzburg’s domestic momentum should carry them to a third-place finish.
Nothing is set in concrete. The teams are so low-profile, underrated and close together in quality that anything can happen. That’s what makes the group so interesting. You can be sure that a good team in this group will bounce out of European competition, whether it’s Lille, Salzburg, Wolfsburg or even Sevilla.
Six players to watch out for in group G
Jonathan David (FW, Lille, Canada)
David, one of the most explosive attackers in Ligue Un, is an underrated prospect. He scored in Lille’s Ligue 1-clinching match and, over the last season, was called one the league’s most in-form players.
Renato Sanches (MF, Lille, Portugal)
Sanches played some games for Bayern Munich before finding his way to Lille. The silky-smooth playmaker lost some of his early career goal-scoring touch. But, his performances in international competition shows he thrives on the biggest stage. His playmaking will help Lille throughout the season.
Karim Adeyemi (FW, Salzburg, Germany)
Adeyemi has netted six goals in seven games in the 21/22 season. Therefore, he is one of the best candidates for a breakout season. Adeyemi only played 29 times last season. However, his form is strong at the moment; he should get more playing time this season.
Brenden Aaronson (MF, Salzburg, United States)
Aaronson is a versatile attacker who can slot in as a regular midfielder with his defensive production. The American can set people up for easy scores and can revitalize offenses without breaking a sweat.
Oliver Torres (MF, Sevilla, Spain)
It will be interesting whether the former Porto midfielder can build on his surprisingly decent season. Torres received a nomination for the Golden Boy award while playing for Los Rojiblancos. Disappointingly, he fell out of the public eye.
His attempts to match his seven assists and production rates in last season’s LaLiga play are something to keep an eye on in 2021/22.
Kevin Mbabu (DEF, Wolfsburg, Switzerland)
Mbabu was one of the best Swiss players at Euro 2020, impressing scouts and fans alike with his tenacity and hustle. Mbabu won the Swiss Super League with Young Boys and subsequently landed a move to Wolfsburg.
Can Mbabu have a breakout season? Or will he bounce to another club as he did with Newcastle and Rangers?
The teams and players above are interestingly unpredictable in Group G. Anything can happen, and that’s what makes this group so interesting and appealing.
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