Know Real Madrid's rivals in Champions League Group B

New manager Carlo Ancelotti prepares to lead Real Madrid into this season's Champions League. Brendon Netto looks at what the La Liga giants will face in the group stages.
 Brendon Netto
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Performance in last year's tournament: Lost 4-0 on aggregate to Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals.

How they qualified this year: Won the Serie A to earn automatic qualification.
The Manager

Antonio Conte guided Juventus through their 'Invincible' season during the 2011-12 campaign. Despite serving a 2-month touchline ban, after being initially sentenced to 10 months, last season over match fixing allegations, he was still able to retain the Serie A with a 9-point gap to boast. His tactical nous has drawn comparisons with Jose Mourinho but he'll have to do better on the European stage to match the achievements if the Portuguese. Conte's implementation of the 3-5-2 system with Andrea Pirlo at its core revolutionized a Juventus side that had finished 7th in the league when he took over from Luigi Del Neri.

Formation and Tactics


Juventus set up in a 3-5-2 formation as they incorporate wing-backs in Stephan Lichtsteiner and Kwadwo Asamoah who work tirelessly to support the defense and provide width in attack. Veteran playmaker Andrea Pirlo is the maestro in midfield and he's able to pull the strings from his deep-lying position thanks to the industry of Claudio Marchisio and Arturo Vidal who are equally effective bombing forward or tracking back.

With Paul Pogba knocking on the door for a place in that illustrious three-man central midfield, Juventus are more than covered in that area. Mirko Vucinic and Caros Tevez are the preferred strike pairing at the moment with the duo linking up to good effect so far.


Juventus should progress from the group stages comfortably provided they avoid any upsets. However, given that they've addressed their striking issues this summer and now have a complete team, they should be looking to go all the way.

  Man to Watch - Carlos Tevez

Juventus have one of the best central midfields in the world and it would be easy to pick a 'man to watch' from there but Carlos Tevez's arrival has given their attack the shine it lacked over the last couple of seasons. At 29, the Argentine is experienced and intelligent enough to slot into their system and has already scored 3 goals in 4 games for the Bianconeri. His link-up play has been impressive and the quality he brings to their strikeforce completes an already excellent side.  


Performance in last year's tournament: Lost 5-3 on aggregate to Real Madrid in the quarter-finals.

How they qualified this year: Won the Turkish League to earn automatic qualification.

The Manager

Fatih Terim spent a decade of his playing career with Galatasaray and won the league twice during that time. He had already won 4 Turkish league titles with the club as manager in 6 years in charge spanning over 2 spells before returning in January 2012 for his third stint. Since his return, the club have been on the up once again and he won his 5th and 6th Super Lig titles as Galatasaray manager in his first two seasons back. In last year's Champions League, he guided his side to the quarter-finals where they were eliminated against Real Madrid but not before they defeated them 3-2 at home following their 3-0 away loss.

Formation and Tactics


Galatasaray employ a 4-3-1-2 formation that incorporates a three-man central midfield. They push their full-backs up and the system is a fluid one that looks to dominate possession, a key aspect of their manager's strategy. Wesley Sneijder operates in the hole behind the two strikers, playing them in and shooting on sight while Felipe Melo anchors the midfield, breaking up play and feeding the ball to those around him. Hamit Altintop is the workhorse beside him and Selcuk Inan distributes the ball to the front three well. Didier Drogba and Burak Yilmaz keep defenders on their toes with their powerful center-forward play.


The Turkish outfit will find it hard to progress from this group but are likely to battle it out. They have the players to cause an upset against the likes of Madrid and Juventus and certainly gave the former a scare last season. With the hostile atmosphere their fans create at home, they could be the bogey team for the big two in the group.

  Man to Watch - Wesley Sneijder

At 35, you can only expect so much from Didier Drogba and although he may turn up for the crunch games, Wesley Sneijder should really be the man Galatasaray pin their hopes on. Of course, there are other key players in the side like Selcuk Inan and the prolific Burak Yilmaz but given that Terim has altered his formation this season and is playing Sneijder in his favoured attacking midfield role, the stage is set for the Dutchman to prove his worth. At 29, he has plenty to offer and he scored in the team's opening game of this season. The quality he brings to the attacking third could make all the difference if his team is going to try and sneak into a qualifying spot. 


Performance in last year's tournament: Did not qualify.

How they qualified this year: Won the Danish League to qualify for the group stages.

The Manager

Stale Solbakken returned to Copenhagen this summer for his second spell in charge of the club. In his first stint, he won 5 Danish Superliga titles in 6 years as well as a Danish Cup in 2009 and Royal League in 2006. He had agreed to become the coach of the Norwegian national team either in January 2012 or after the European Championships that year but was instead bought out of his contract by FC Koln who he joined in May 2011. However, following a disappointing time in the Bundesliga and s subsequent brief spell with Wolverhampton Wanderers, he has now returned to Copenhagen,

Formation and Tactics


Copenhagen play either a 4-4-1-1 or 4-4-2 system. The club is renowned for their attractive and positive brand of football in Denmark and that's something they always aspire to. Nicolai Jorgensen is integral to their attack and has recently adopted a role behind the lead striker. Rurik Gislason and Christian Bolanos operate down the left and right flanks respectively with the former being an inverted winger. Claudemir is the engine of the team and is notorious for popping up anywhere on the pitch. The 25 year-old Brazilian brings plenty of energy to the midfield while Thomas Delaney is the more robust of the two and has already picked up 4 yellow cards in 7 appearances this season.


They are clearly the weakest team in this group and although they would love to finish third to secure a place in the Europa League, even that seems out of their reach. They'll be looking to give their best and hopefully leave a mark on the tournament with one or two decent results.

  Man to Watch - Nicolai Jorgensen

Copenhagen's top scorer last season, Andreas Cornelius has moved to Cardiff City this summer. Fortunately, it was a season when they unearthed another young talent in Nicolai Jorgensen. The 22 year-old already showed plenty of promise when Bayer Leverkusen signed him three years ago but having moved on in search of more first team opportunites, his talent was evident last season when he scored 11 goals and made 8 assists in 36 appearances, most of which came from the left wing. The youngster has also featured as an attacking midfielder and more recently as a second striker.

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