Below is how the 5 pools look for the upcoming Champions Cup competition:
First of all, Leinster has been drawn the exact same opponents in their pool as the 2011/12 season. Lets just hope that this is a good omen of how this season will end in terms of who tops that group, and who goes on to lift the trophy in May 😉
Munster has also been drawn with two familiar opponents from last season, Racing 92 and Leicester Tigers. Munster beat Racing home and away and lost to Leicester away, and ended up topping their group. Castres are an unfamiliar opponent for Munster but overall I expect Munster to top this group again!
Ulster have an interesting group in terms of the recent form of two of their opponents. La Rochelle had a very successful season albeit not winning the Top 14, but put out some incredible performances during the season, they should pose a serious threat to the Ulstermen. Wasps have also been very strong throughout the season in the Aviva Premiership, narrowly losing out to Exeter in the final. Harlequins have been going through a transitional period and will be one to watch in terms of how they approach this season. They have brought in some new exciting recruits and found some great form towards the end of the Aviva Premiership. I would expect Ulster to finish in the top two, home wins will prove most crucial in this pool.
Lastly, pool 2 and 5 will be very entertaining. The Clermont v Saracens, and Scarlets v Toulon matchups in particular should prove excellent viewing. Toulon will be looking for revenge over Scarlets who beat them in last season’s pool stages, while Clermont have unfinished business with Saracens who defeated them in the Champions Cup final this season. I expect at least three of these teams to finish 1st/2nd in their groups and progress to the playoffs.
All in all, most pools are balanced and it looks like we have a cracker of a season to look forward to! Cheeky predictions for the final 8 below: