The 2016 Champions League group stage draw didn’t have Gianni Infantino because he’s got a new job to take care of, but we all knew that Juventus would be there.
When the ping pong balls were all done being plucked out of the giant plastic bowls, Juventus’ first three European opponents were set in stone. There’s Sevilla, there’s Olympique Lyonnais and there’s Dinamo Zagreb. Remember how I said there’s going to be storylines? Well, there’s plenty of that going on in this group — something we’ll delve into lower in this little post.
Could have been much, much worse. Could have been a little bit better. Basically, overall satisfaction considering what the other outcomes could have been.
Regardless, Juventus will be the favorites to get out of this group. The one good thing is that Juve were able to avoid a potential meeting with FC Copenhagen because we all know the history of this team playing on Scandinavian grounds over the last few years.
And when you’re aiming to make a serious run and potentially win the whole damn thing, not just get out of the group stage, having a somewhat favorable draw right out of the chute isn’t the worst thing in the world to have happen.
Of course, when Juventus have three points through three group stage games, we might be thinking a little bit differently.
Let’s go ahead and take a look at who Juventus will be playing their first six European games against, shall we?
Pot 2: Sevilla
Last year we had the Fernando Llorente-Juventus reunion. This year, with another Juventus-Sevilla meeting, we’ll have the Paulo Dybala-Franco Vazquez reunion as well as Dani Alves playing against the team where he made his name.
Considering some of the other Pot 2 teams out there — Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Manchester City — Sevilla was probably a team that some clubs would have looked at as a happy alternative to be drawn against. With Juventus having had such a tough time with Sevilla last season, maybe that wasn’t necessarily what Turin-based folks were thinking. Who knows, though.
The good news? With Sevilla’s history in Europe, it’s an unwritten rule that they will win the Europa League once again, so maybe everything will be fine and that will be that.
At least there’s going to be no worrying about Llorente scoring the game-winning goal that will cost Juventus the top spot in the group this season.
Complete side note: The other half of last season’s Juventus group, Manchester City and Borussia Monchengladbach, are in the same group this year. So basically the group just managed to stay together in some kind of fashion during this season’s draw.
Pot 3: Olympique Lyonnais
Miralem Pjanic, it’s time to face your former team.
Juventus have never lost to Lyon in European competition, having last played the French side in the Europa League two seasons ago. Ligue 1’s second-place team a year ago, they’re currently sitting atop the league table through the first first two games.
Obviously when it comes to facing Lyon, your first thought is how Alexandre Lacazette is going to be stopped. Luckily for Juventus, that defense of theirs is pretty darn good to begin with.
Pot 4: Dinamo Zagreb
What were we saying about reunions...?
Much like Pjanic will be facing his former side, Marko Pjaca — who was playing for Zagreb in the Champions League playoff round — and Mario Mandzukic are set for a reunion their former club when Juventus make the trip to Croatia.
Zagreb was able to get into the Champions League draw thanks to beating FC Red Bull Salzburg 3-2 in their two-legged playoff round matchup.
For Juventus’ sake, I sure hope the final fixture of the group stage isn’t the trip to Croatia as winter is starting to truly arrive.
There you have it, boys and girls. Juventus were set to play against three teams from three different countries and that’s exactly what happened. Considering it’s now time to overanalyze things like no other, what do you think of Juventus’ Champions League group?