Champions League Group B Rundown
- Champions League appearances include appearances after rebranding to Champions League
Group B: S.L. Benfica, S.S.C. Napoli, FC Dynamo Kyiv, Besiktas J.K.
Benfica is the first team in group B, hailing from Portugal. They currently compete in the Portuguese LIga where they sit top of the table with seven points after three games. Júlio César mans the net and will lead this side into a competition that they are very familiar with. This will be Benficas’ fifteenth trip to the Champions League. They have made it as far as the quarterfinal stage which they accomplished in 1994–1995, 2005–2006, 2011–2012, and last year 2015–2016. Last year Benfica made it out of their group and beat Zenit St. Petersburg but fell to Bayern Munich in the next match.
Napoli comes in as the second team in group B. Napoli compete in Serie A in Italy. They currently have four points after two games and sit behind Juventus in second place. After losing top goal scorer Gonzalo Higuaín to Juventus, Napoli must look to other players to score the goals. Dries Merterns, Arkadiusz Milik, and Marek Hamšík had impressive showings at the Euro Championship and they will hope to carry those performances into the Champions League. Napoli have been frequent competitors in European competition but have been in the Europa League more than the Champions League. This will be their fourth trip to the Champions League with their best result coming in 2011–2012 when they made it to the round of sixteen but lost to Chelsea.
Dynamo Kyiv are the third team in group B. Kyiv compete in the Ukrainian Premier League where they are tied for first with Shakhtar Donetsk, both teams have fifteen points after five matches. Mykola Morozuk has the most assists in the Ukrainian Premier League with four and hopes to continue supplying his teammates in the Champions League. This will be Dynamo Kyivs’ twenty-third trip to the Champions League (counting 1995–1996 when they were disqualified for bribing). In the past twenty-four seasons, Kyiv have only missed one season of Champions League play and have been in every season, except last year’s tournament, since the Champions League was rebranded. Last season, Dynamo Kyiv competed in the Europa League where they topped their group and made it all the way to the quarterfinals, however they lost to Fiorentina in that round.
Besiktas are the final team in group B. Besiktas compete in the Turkish Süper Lig and are currently second, behind Galatasaray, after two matches. Manager Senol Günes will hope that Ricardo Quaresma can bring his Euro Championship title win and get a second European title this season. This will be Besiktas’ ninth time in the Champions League but they have never made it past the group stage. Last year Beskitas did not make it to the Champions League and competed in the Europa League. In their group, Besiktas were one point away from making the knockout stage and finished third in the group behind Lokomotiv Moscow and Sporting CP.
This group looks very competitive with all the teams having many season of experience in the Champions League. Benfica has played matches against both Napoli and Dynamo Kyiv. Benfica played Napoli in the Europa League in 2008–2009. The teams split the match with each team winning one of the games and losing the other. In 1991–1992, Benfica played Dynamo Kyiv in the European Cup where, again, they split the matches winning one and losing the other. Napoli has only played against Benfica of the teams in this group. Kyiv and Besiktas have frequently met in European competition, having played eight games against each other. In the European Cup, Dynamo won the two games they played in the quarterfinals and in the Europa League Besiktas has won two games, Kyiv has won three games, and they tied one game. Through these eight matches Kyiv has gotten the better of the Turkish side majority of the time. Though the group is very even, I predict that Napoli will qualify first out of the group