4. CSKA Sofia (Bulgaria)
CSKA Sofia is the significant weak Link in this group. All respect to the Bulgarians, they have earned the right to be here, and it’s probably not a regular occurrence. Even if they’ve been involved in European football occasionally, it’s never an easy road to get here. When you are playing in a country like Bulgaria, you have to be one of the best teams just have an opportunity to make the Europa League or the Champions League. It’s not like some of the more significant leagues that just come in without having to go through qualifying. They went through four rounds of qualifying just to make it to the Europa League group stage. Even though they’ve made the competition this season and last season, they are not getting into this competition every year, which is why they are probably competing in this regardless of the number of points is valuable to a team that wants to be a little bit more relevant in European football especially coming from a country like Bulgaria. They had to go through Siren from Malta, BATE from Belarus, Torchon from the Faroe Islands, then in the Playoff round, they beat Basel, who made the quarter-finals of the Europa League last season. Now they are grouped with CFR Cluj, young boys, and Roma. A very challenging group especially for a team that worked so hard to get here. Their top scorer last season was Ali with 15 goals. Their best finish in European football was making the quarter-finals of the 1974 European Cup. In the Europa League, they have not had much luck collectively throughout Europe that hasn’t been a team that makes it very far very often. The Bulgarians have made the Europa League 7 times since it was renamed the Europa League, previously called at the UEFA Cup; they have never made it out of the Europa League group or in the UEFA Cup. This is not a competition they’ve had had any significant success in. I’m sure they’re glad to be here, and just because it’s so many will underestimate them, maybe they have a chance to get a couple of points given the difficulties of playing in Bulgaria with this not being a very strong group they probably will have opportunities to pick up some points but realistically finishing at the bottom of the table is most likely. They have not picked up a trophy since 2015 and haven’t won a league title since 2008; history is not on their side, and obviously, this is something they were potentially struggling with; however, I wish them the best of luck but it’s unlikely that they Advance any further than this but go on surprise us.
3. Young Boys (Switzerland)
Finishing in third place, I have young boys from Switzerland. It really is a toss-up between CFR Cluj and young boys but given the fact that the Romanian side, even though they have not had that much success in this competition, they always seem to be Europe, and they always seem to win a big game. They have won the league in Switzerland for the last three years and do have some pretty lovely players. Even though I am picking them in third, they have a decent shot of qualifying CFR Cluj slightly, but it is a conversation. The group’s strength is not that strong, which gives them a puncher’s chance to get through. It will be a battle between themselves and CFR Cluj. The player they should look for is Jean-Pierre; he scored 41 goals in all competitions last season and already has five goals this season; he will be the most imposing Factor on whether or not they Advance through the next round. However, 41 goals in the Switzerland league and 41 goals elsewhere do not mean the same thing; nonetheless, they have a potent player who can change the games. Young boys have been a yo-yo club in a sense they have rotated between the champions league and the Europa League over the last couple of decades. Europa League started in 2010; they made the Europa League nine times only once they made it out of the group in 2010/2011 when they made the round of 32 but lost to Zenit St Petersburg. A capable team, but I just trust the Romanians a little bit more. They will be competitive in this group, but I think they fall short of qualifying for the next round.
2. CFR Cluj (Romania)
Going through as the runners-up, I have my hometown Club CFR Cluj as a Romanians look to make the round of 32 for the second consecutive season. People forget that CFR Cluj scores a late goal against Sevilla in the round of 32 that would have eliminated the competition’s eventual champions; they would have punched their ticket into the round of 16, and you never know what would have happened. Sevilla were the worthy winners of last year’s competition, but at the same time, circumstances could have changed if that goal would have stood. In last year’s group stage, they beat Celtic and Lazio on their way to a second-place finish. In another very winnable group, I can see them doing it again. It is an open group outside of the top spot, but CFR is much better than the Bulgarians and young boys. They may not be a regular in conversations like these, at least advancing, but they always seem to be in European football. This is a team capable of getting results in these games. Whether or not they’re good enough to take one game from Roma, it’s hard to say, but they are certainly better than the rest of the group with a great opportunity to make the round of 32 for a second consecutive season. Celtic and Lazio provided more challenges than CSKA and young boys; if they can get through that group last season, they indeed can find a way to get through this one. This team has winning intangibles and always seems to find a way in some big games. The Romanian League may not be the highest standard. Still, in that League, they have Steaua Bucharest a team that won a Champions League final and always seems to be in Europe. Dinamo Bucharest, another team, earned respect in European football. In the last 13 years, CFR Cluj has won six titles. 3 coming in the last 3 Seasons. They are the Giants of Romanian football at this right now. CFR Cluj has the record for the most points in the Champions League and the Europa League. They are a well-coached team that plays disciplined football, defends at a high level, and is only beaten if they are overpowered in Talent. They play mistake-free football, and the only real concerning factor in this group is whether or not their new goalkeeper can handle the pressure. They lost their goalkeeper, who was one of their best players was really important against Lazio last season and was one of the best Keepers in the Europa League; he is no longer on the team, so as far as everything goes, that is the only concerning factor that they should really have they have two Strikers who are capable of goals in these type of games and a facilitator. They may not match up from a talent perspective, but Decac and Adrian Paun all capable of scoring in big games and supplying those moments. They’re even good enough to maybe get A point off of Roma in the group stage; they are significantly the second-best team, but as I said, young boys can surprise us and finished second, but CFR finish as the runner-ups as the side from Romania will join Roma advancing to the next round.
1. A.S Roma (Italy)
Roma, we’re very fortunate with the group they got put in. They should be very simple for the Italians. It is quite likely that they could collect maximum points. I feel like a Roma will drop a point or two along the way, but for the most part, Roma will be in cruise control in this group from the first match. Top to bottom their squad, it’s significantly more potent than the next best team in this group. Paulo Fonseca’s side will be ready in up for the challenge. Depending on what teams end up in the Europa League by the Champions League, Roma will be one of the favorites to win the whole thing. Will Roma win the Europa League? Probably not, but nonetheless, they’re still one of the favorites in this competition. All due respect to Cluj CSKA and young boys, none of these teams in this group are even remotely on their level. Based on the fact that Roma has one of the best defenses in this competition with Chris Smalling, Rodger Ibanez, and Max kumbulla. On top of that, they have an incredibly strong Midfield that features the team’s best player, Jordan veretout passing wizard Lorenzo Pellegrini; then in the attack, they have the likes of Mkhitaryan, a proven winner in Pedro Rodriguez young Talent Off the Bench, and upfront Roma will have edin Dzeko who even though he is not playing well right now is Roma’s top European goal scorer of all time along with mayoral who just joined from Real Madrid. Top to bottom of their just better and when you look at the competition’s history, they are far superior to anything else. Even though Roma has not won a thing since 2008 until quite recently, they were in the Champions League every season. They made the semi-final as recent as 2018. In the Champions League, they have made it out of the group into the round of 16 on seven different occasions on 7 different occasions, they made it to at least the quarterfinals they have made the semi-finals 4 times and even made a Champions League final in 1984. In the Europa League, they have a similar history they made it to the round of 16 four different times in the quarterfinals also on four different occasions, including one year they made it to the final in 1990 losing to Inter Milan even though the lack of trophies the fact of the matter is Roma have the best coach team the best team from top to bottom and on top of all that they have the five best players in this group. Maybe Cluj can get them once, maybe young boys, but Roma should sleepwalk through this group for the most part. It is one of the weakest is groups top to bottom in the entire competition. Roma should get through this without any difficulty.