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Trecker's UEFA CL Picks: Group D
Real Madrid, Lyon, Ajax, Dinamo Zagreb
Speaking of Mourinho (see: Group B) while the Special One may not yet have figured out how to beat Barcelona, almost everything else he's done in Madrid has come up roses. After reaching last year's semifinals, this draw offers the infamous manager the luxury of taking it easy in the fall, allowing him to concentrate on La Liga before Christmas. Real's reserves could probably finish no worse than second here; a few appearances from Cristiano Ronaldo should insure that the first side is qualified in four matches.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid should progress (Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Lyon lost its way in France a year ago, ending a seven-year championship run, but there are signs that the old European war-horse has shaken off the dust. Batefimbi Gomis, Jimmy Briand and Lisandro Lopez are effective attacking force - when Lisandro is not flopping - and the return to form of Michel Bastos was noticeable in qualifying. Unfortunately, Lisandro got hurt this weekend (ankle) and is expected to miss several weeks.
Ajax once was great because of a youth system that rivaled that of the modern-day Barcelona. The Amsterdam club still has a good nursery, but now they sell their best products. Fact is, life in the Eredivisie is no longer first class. The old Ajax magic might be enough for a single upset win, but they don’t have enough to trouble the eventual qualifiers.
Dinamo Zagreb players will be able to tell their grandchildren that they played in the Bernabeu. Score! They are also tough enough to take something off Ajax in both head-to-head meetings.
Our prediction: Real Madrid are group winners; Lyon are runners-up. Dinamo Zagreb into the Europa League.