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Benfica expected to progress in Champions League Group B

Now that the Champions League draw has been completed, here's a preview for Group B. Who do you think will go through?

Predicted finish

1. Benfica
2. Napoli
3. Dynamo Kiev
4. Besiktas


Jorge Jesus defected to Sporting Lisbon last summer but that didn't stop Benfica, who won the league under Rui Vitoria to make it three titles in a row. They reached last season's Champions League quarterfinals, where they gave Pep Guardiola's Bayern Munich a real fright when they drew 2-2 in Germany in the second leg, only exiting a narrow 3-2 on aggregate.


Summer headlines were written and the bank balance swelled by the €90 million that Napoli received for striker Gonzalo Higuain, who scored a record-breaking 36 goals in Serie A last season. Poland's Arkadiusz Milik faces a tall order to replace Higuain's haul, and coach Maurizio Sarri looks to have a tough assignment on his hands. Last season, though admittedly focused on a chase for the Serie A title, his team could only reach the last 32 of the Europa League.

Benfica have won the Portuguese title three seasons in a row.

Dynamo Kiev

Coached by former Tottenham striker Sergei Rebrov, Kiev have won the past two domestic Ukrainian titles after -- for them -- a lengthy drought of five years. They probably punched slightly above their weight in making the round of 16 last year (beaten there by Manchester City), and this year will have to cope with the loss of centre-back Aleksandar Dragovic, sold to Bayer Leverkusen.


It's looking like a slightly uncertain season ahead for Besiktas, who lost Mario Gomez, Gokhan Tore and Jose Sosa in the summer, but the arrival of Anderson Talisca and the possible signing of Samir Nasri should go some way to cushioning those blows. They'll also play in a shiny new ground -- the Vodafone Arena -- a state-of-the-art "green" stadium that produces much of its own electricity from solar panels, and features extensive Wi-Fi coverage. You also can watch football there, if you like.

Game of the group

Dynamo Kiev vs. Napoli -- The Italians should really be favourites to progress from this group, but the sale of Gonzalo Higuain without (at the time of writing) being convincingly replaced does ring alarm bells. Kiev could just spring a surprise.

X factor

Arkadiusz Milik -- Eyebrows were raised when Napoli, their pockets weighed down with Juve's money, spent €35 million on the Polish striker from Ajax. He's not just under pressure to settle with a new side, but to replace the man who scored 38 goals last season. If this doesn't come off, Napoli could well struggle.

Nick Miller is a writer for ESPN FC, covering Premier League and European football. Follow him on Twitter @NickMiller79.


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