Dortmund’s Champions League winner Tanko speaks on 2018-19 group stage draw

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Exclusive: The Ghanaian names the toughest group, the possible champions and the chances of his former German club

Former Borussia Dortmund striker and 1997 Champions League winner Ibrahim Tanko believes Group B of this season’s group stage draw qualifies to be labelled the Group of Death.

In what will be the clash of the titans, five-time winners Barcelona, three-time victors Inter Milan, English outfit Tottenham Hotspur and 1988 champions PSV Eindhoven are set to battle it out for two tickets to the round of 16.

The storm that lies ahead became apparent after the draw was held in Monaco, France, on Thursday.

“There are two groups that I think fit the Group of Death,” Tanko, who is currently one of Ghana’s two assistant coaches, told Goal on Thursday.

“Group B with Barcelona, Tottenham, Inter Milan and PSV is definitely one of the toughest groups this year. Group H also has Manchester United, Juventus, Young Boys and Valencia, who cannot be underrated because they have a very good team and are capable of going to the next round. But I think ultimately, Juve and United are likely to qualify from that group.

“Group C, which has Paris Saint-Germain, Napoli and Liverpool, is also a group that any two of these three teams can qualify from, but I sense PSG and Liverpool will go through, even though Napoli are also a very good side.

“I think the rest of the groups are balanced. We have the so-called big teams and then the teams that are capable of causing a surprise. I think I will pick Group B as my Group of Death. I think this year will be exciting to watch.”

Although he was able to pick out his toughest group, Tanko fell short of naming the likely winner of this year’s championship. Real Madrid emerged victors last season, beating Liverpool in a thrilling final.

“It’s very difficult to predict now because these are all good teams,” said the striker, who also played for Freiburg.

“At the end of the day, it’s going to be the usual suspects like Barca, Real, PSG, Liverpool, Bayern, United, Juve and Inter. But we could see a lot of surprises. Let’s wait. As the competition progresses, we’ll have better idea.”

He then touches on the chances of former side Dortmund, who made Group A, alongside Atletico Madrid, Monaco and Club Brugge.

“I think Dortmund have a chance of qualifying,” the 41-year-old said.

“Atletico are a strong side with our own [Thomas] Partey and Monaco have a good team too. But Dortmund have the Champions League experience although they have a new team with some new players.

‘I hope that they make it to the second round but it’s not going to be easy for them.”

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Tanko is just one of five Ghanaian players to have ever won a Uefa Champions League gold medal.



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