UEFA Champions League Draw, Group G Analysis: Porto And Shakhtar Donetsk Look To Advance

It's Porto, Shakhtar, Zenit, and Apoel in Group G. Sometimes, the competition throws together two giants and two minnows, but sometimes you get a mixed bag, and this is one of the more unpredictable groups. Apoel are likely to get severely whipped, but beyond that, it could be anyone's. With no true giant in the group, and three middling, yet hugely entertaining and formidable sides all looking to make the step up and prove they can compete at Champions League level, this could be a defining year for one (or two) of these teams. But before they get a shot at the giants, they will have to prove themselves against one another.

Having lost their manager and some of their best players, Porto will be unpredictable, but should still have enough quality to get through. Shakhtar have built a fine side, but will be looking to take things to the next level, whilst Zenit manager Luciano Spalletti will be hoping that he can continue to develop his promising team.

Out before it starts

Apoel are the likely whipping boys here, with the group having thrown them in with 3 teams of equivalent, far greater stature and ability. Who knows - it could even be them that decides the group, depending on how hard the other teams thrash them, Zaire-1974 style.

Sorry, Europa League for you

Zenit. The Russians will put up a fierce fight but they lack the quality and skill of Benfica and Shakhtar, and will probably come up short in the end. It's far from clear-cut, though, particularly with the distance involved with some of the away matches for each of the teams.

Advancing to the Knockout Stage are...

Porto may be in the process of having their team salvaged for parts by Europe's bigger teams, but they remain a formidable outfit and have more than enough quality left over from last year to provide a considerable threat. Bar any new-manager mishaps, they should be favourites to go through here. 

But that's only by a slim margin - Shakhtar have built quite a team over the past few years, with their Ukrainian backbone bolstered by a large brazilian contingent who have enough pace and flair to make Shakhtar a very dangerous side.

Player to watch

It'll be interesting to see whether Douglas Costa, formerly linked with a host of Europe's top clubs, can show some form on the big stage in Europe. If he shines, Shakhtar could well be fielding a few calls. The Brazilian attacking midfielder is still young, but he is an exciting player to watch and could be the difference in some tight games.

Must-watch fixture

Shakhtar Vs. Porto - With the Portuguese coming up against a side containing plenty of Brazilians, the colonial narrative writes itself. It'll also be interesting to see how Porto can cope with travelling the length of Europe to play their game - this will be a key clash for both sides.

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