SAO PAULO (AP) – Group B
Inter Milan, CSKA Moscow, Lille, Trabzonspor
Inter Milan won the Champions League two years ago. They had The Special One coaching them, a guy named Wesley Sneijder to pull the strings and air of inevitability about them.
But Jose Mourinho departed a year ago. Sneijder was still on the roster Sunday, but the transfer window isn't yet closed and Manchester United is still said to be waving money in the direction of the San Siro. So, how about we forget about Inter as the top seed in this section and talk about the teams that should advance: CSKA Moscow and Lille.
The Russians have been very good for a couple of seasons (and Wagner Love may have the best hair/name combo in the entire competition) but their schedule was always against them. The Oligarchs figured that one out, changing the Russian championship to a fall-spring affair. CSKA will no longer step into the knockout stage without having played any meaningful football for nearly four months.
Lille surprised in France a year ago and has the stuff to make it to the next round as long as they keep a jersey on the back of Eden Hazard, a man said to be wanted by Arsenal. Since Arsenal chases these days are rarely productive, figure Hazard to stay in France and Lille to be a tough customer.
Trabzonspor? Well, they lost in qualifying to Benfica, then got in through the back door when Fenerbahce was tossed aside by the Turkish Federation for match-fixing. What was second prize?
Our prediction: CSKA Moscow are group winners; Lille are runners-up. Inter Milan to Europa League.
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