SAO PAULO (AP) – Group G
FC Porto, Shakhtar Donetsk, Zenit St. Petersburg, APOEL Nicosia
Zenit St. Petersburg is the side to watch here. It has been the best side in Russia for the past two seasons and is ready to make an impression in Europe. It probably helps to have Shakhtar in this section: in case you hadn't noticed, Russian teams seem to have something in reserve when they play in Ukraine, being able to nullify the homefield advantage. But Zenit will travel well too, its combination of experience and skill a basis for getting full points in either Cyprus or Portugal.
FC Porto cruised the Portuguese League a year ago, but lost Villas-Boas to Chelsea and likely will face a much stiffer challenge to dominate at home this season. Still, it retains Hulk, who always seems to score in big matches, and its performance in the Champions League has been consistently solid since the Mourinho era ended.
Shakhtar was last year's wild card, perhaps underestimated, especially by haughty Arsenal in the group stage. Getting the job done a second time, when in the spotlight, will be much harder. APOEL Nicosia is one of those places where veteran players go to excel in a weak league and collect a nice pay check.
Our prediction: Zenit are group winners; FC Porto, are runners-up. Shakhtar go into the Europa League.
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