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Where is the Champions League headed this season?

November 14th, 2012 · No Comments

This season’s Champions League group stage has produced some memorable games including a number of surprises, none more so than Celtic’s deserved 2-1 victory over Barcelona and BATE’s 3-1 win over last season’s beaten finalists Bayern Munich.
But which team will lift the trophy on 25th May at Wembley Stadium in London?

Possibles

Chelsea – The Londoners won last season’s competition against all the odds, but could they become the first reigning champions to exit the competition at the group stage? A last gasp winning goal against Shakhtar Donetsk means that a draw away at Juventus should be enough for them for them to qualify from the group stage. Chelsea are playing a more open and attacking football this season, but look defensively vulnerable against quality opposition and seem unlikely to progress much further in this season’s competition.
Borussia Dortmund – After a poor display in last season’s Champions League, Borussia have so far been a revelation, outplaying each of their opponents. Only a world class performance from Manchester City’s Joe Hart denied them victory in Manchester and it took a last minute equalizer from Real Madrid’s Mesut Özil to deny the Germans the double over the Spanish champions. Their failure to kill off opposition may well haunt Borussia should they reach the knock out stage of the competition.

Shakhtar Donetsk – Like Dortmund, the Ukrainian champions have been a revelation this season after finishing bottom of their group last season. They have outplayed each opponent and were desperately unfortunate to lose to a last minute Chelsea goal at Stamford Bridge. Shakhtar should qualify for the knock out stages of the competition, but could find it difficult to regain their winning momentum when they return to competitive action after the three month winter break.

Juventus – The bianconeri impressed in recovering from a two goal deficit to draw against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, but the loss of two points against Nordsjælland means that the Italian champions need a home win over Chelsea to give them a realistic chance of progressing from the group stage. Should they reach the knockout stage of the competition Juventus could be an outside bet to make it to Wembley.

Paris Saint-Germain – Carlo Ancelotti’s expensively assembled team look certain to qualify from their group alongside Porto and with players of the quality of Pastore, Verratti, Lavezzi, Thiago Silva already forming a good understanding, PSG will be a threat to most opponent. The joker in the pack could well be the remarkable talent of Zlatan Ibrahimovi who can change any game with a moment of brilliance. Their one weakness could be their lack of Champions League experience.

Manchester United – The winning mentality is everything, so it would be foolish to rule out Sir Alex Ferguson’s team. After crashing out of last year’s competition at the group stage, the three times champions are the only team who still have a 100 percent record. Of the English teams the Red Devils look likely to progress furthest; but defensive vulnerabilities and a lightweight midfield could prove to be their Achilles heel when they face the very best opposition.

Probables

Bayern Munich –After the disappointment of losing last season’s final on their home ground, Bayern have started this season impressively. With from the exception of a shock defeat against BATE Borisov, free scoring Bayern have won their other three Champions League group games and 10 out of 11 Bundesliga games. Jupp Heynckes has made several significant additions to the Bayern squad, with Croatian striker Mario Mandžuki at the top of the goal scoring charts in the Bundesliga. Bayern have kept under the radar in the early months of the season, but look like serious candidates to reach the final in London in May.

Barcelona – The Catalan giants have an almost perfect record in La Liga and despite a shock defeat against Celtic in Glasgow, they lead both La Liga and their Champions League group. But defensively Tito Vilanova’s team, have leaked goals, with 23 conceded in 18 competitive fixtures. The absence of Puyol and Pique for long periods has been a significant factor, so their return to the first team should help resolve most of the defensive issues; however any team boasting Xavi, Iniesta and especially Messi will normally be strong enough to see off almost every opponent.

Real Madrid – The reigning La Liga champions beat Barcelona to take the Spanish Super Cup, but had a sluggish start to their league campaign, losing two out of their first four matches. However they have since regained momentum winning six out of seven league games and held Barcelona to a draw at the Nou Camp. Los Blancos were given a tough Champions League group draw, collecting only a single point from their two games against Borussia Dortmund; but they still look likely to qualify ahead of Ajax and Manchester City.
Who will lift the Champions League trophy at Wembley?

The Spanish giants and Bayern Munich have exceptional squads and it is difficult to separate them; but this season’s trophy will be lifted by the captain of Real Madrid. The difference between the teams is the managerial genius of Jose Mourinho who after lifting the trophy with Porto and Inter Milan will ensure that the trophy returns to the Bernabéu for the 10th time and after a 10 year absence.

This article was written by Hayden James. Hayden James is a writer who blogs about his favourite sports. He is a huge follower of Champions League football and European Basketball News.

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Tags: soccer · Misc


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