Champions League Group E profile: Tottenham favourites to top group in weak field
Robbie Purves | September 7, 2016
Champions League Group E profile
With European football back on our screens this September, Coral experts give Champions League Group E tips, as we examine all eight pools for the best punts and profile the teams, players and coaches.
There is Premier League interest in this group, as Mauricio Pochettino‘s Tottenham headline the selection and have a superb chance of topping the group after they avoided many of Europe’s heavyweight talents.
The north London side are understandable favourites to win a pool that consists of Bayern Leverkusen, CSKA Moscow and Monaco.
In their last five appearances in the Champions League, the Germans have made it out the group and into the round of 16 four times.
However, of those four, Leverkusen have failed to top come first, opening the door for Spurs to top Group E.
Runners-up to Real Madrid at Hampden Park in 2002, Bayer are managed by Roger Schmidt, who was previously known for his time at controversial side Red Bull Salzburg where he led the side to a double in the 2013/14 season.
His style of play is fast and ferocious, with a preference for high pressing and counter punching with quick breakaway attacks. Schmidt is also particularly entertaining on the touchline, above and beyond what Jurgen Klopp produces every week.
The BayArena outfit added £17m striker Kevin Volland from Hoffenheim, a forward that netted eight times last term.
Another major arrival was solid centre back Aleksandar Dragovic from Dynamo Kiev for over £15m, likely to replace the departed Kyriakos Papadopoulos, who was loaned by Leverkusen to Red Bull Leipzig.
One major transfer away from Bayer was defensive midfielder Christoph Kramer to Borussia Monchengladbach for £12.75m.
After making it out the group four out of the last five Champions League campaigns, Schmidt’s side are odds-on to qualify at 1/2.
Russian Champions CSKA have a long history with the competition and made it to the quarter-finals in 2010. However, the Moscow side have failed to make it out of the group in each of the last three Champions League campaigns.
Leonid Slutsky has been the manager of CSKA Moscow since 2009 and has experienced numerous successes, with three Premier League titles and two Russian cups.
Slutsky has shown his tactical versatility and takes a pragmatic approach to games, routinely switching formations and players. His CSKA side have made a name for themselves as a team with a strong defence and cutthroat pace in attack.
Moscow spent a grand total of nothing this summer window, with loans making up the the club’s two arrivals. One was striker Lacina Traore from Monaco to replace the departed Ahmed Musa, who finished Slutsky’s top scorer last term. Note, Traore will be unable to play two group matches, as parent club Monaco also sit in Group E.
Another incoming was exciting winger Aleksey Ionov on loan from Dinamo Moscow. The Russian international recorded four goals and assist last term and was brought in to try and lessen the blow Musa’s departure to Leicester City caused.
The Russians may struggle this term and are 13/8 to qualify from Group E.
On their last appearance Spurs appeared in the competition, they made it to the quarter-finals in a Gareth Bale-led charge.
Under Pochettino, Tottenham have transformed into a real solid outfit that are just as proficient defending as they are attacking.
After a slow start to his tenure, the London side registered their highest ever Premier League finish. Pochettino looks set for a job at one of Europe’s biggest clubs and favours an en vogue intense pressing style.
Looking at the field Spurs are up against, they have to be considered favourites to win Group E at 6/5.
Daniel Levy had his customary busy transfer window. Moussa Sissoko from Newcastle United for £30m was the club’s most expensive arrival, and promises to slot in nicely into the high energy system that Pochettino deploys.
Further up the field, Netherlands striker Vincent Janssen was brought in for £18m from AZ Alkmaar, while £9m Georges-Kevin N’Koudou from Marseille completed their forward thinking acquisitions.
However, what could prove to be their most important addition could be defensive midfield rock Victor Wanyama, who followed Pochettino from former club Southampton.
Meanwhile, both Ryan Mason and Nacer Chadli permanently departed White Hart Lane for a combined fee of around £25m.
Glamorous Principality outfit Monaco have a rich history in the competition and reached the Champions League final in 2004.
Leonardo Jardim’s approach doesn’t always produce the most attractive football, but it’s effective, as seen in his the elimination of Arsenal in Europe proved a couple of seasons back.
Despite losing key players year on year, Jardim manages to keep the side competitive and have finished in Ligue 1’s top three every season since his arrival.
Portugeuse boss Jardim also has winning experience, lifting a domestic double with Greek outfit Olympiakos in 2013.
In term of comings and goings, Monaco have been busy. Their defence was ripped up and revolutionised with the additions of £12.75m right back Djibril Sidibe from Lille, left back Benjamin Mendy arriving from Marseille for £11.05m and Poland international centre back Kamil Glik for £9.35m – while Marcel Tisserand left.
Ivan Cavaleiro was the club’s major departure, and switched to newly affluent Wolverhampton Wanderers for £6.80m.
With a fairly weak field, Jardim’s outfit should fancy their chances of qualifying. The Principality side have already beaten current Ligue 1 champions PSG, are yet to be beaten in the league and look a formidable force with the likes of Bernardo Silva and Radamel Falcao spearheading in attack.
Champions League Group E games
All matches unless stated are at 19:45 UK time.
Wednesday, September 14th
Bayer Leverkusen v CSKA Moscow
Tottenham v Monaco
Tuesday, September 27th
CSKA v Tottenham
Monaco v Bayer Leverkusen
Tuesday, October 18th
Bayer Leverkusen v Tottenham
CSKA v Monaco
Wednesday, November 2nd
Monaco v CSKA
Tottenham v Bayer Leverkusen
Tuesday, November 22nd
CSKA v Bayer Leverkusen (17:00 GMT)
Monaco v Tottenham
Wednesday, 8th December
Bayer Leverkusen v Monaco
Tottenham v CSKA
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