Champions League predictions for Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United
The most prestigious European competition in the world of football revealed its opening line-up of the Group stages, combining some of Europe’s top clubs. Fans all over the world will be thrilled with anticipation of witnessing their clubs compete with the world’s elite.
The draw, held in Monaco, featured current holders FC Barcelona alongside the top four English clubs; Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal.
So who were they pitted against?
Manchester City begin their first ever venture into new territory as they enter the Champions League for the first time in history. This marks a remarkable moment of history under the new Etihad-era, where the owners’ endless pockets have helped acquire some of football’s top players. They begin in what will be this years ‘group of death’.
It is the Italian club which will kick things off in Manchester on 17 September. They finished in an admirable third place in Serie A, just six points off second-placed Inter.
Danger Man – The big man up front is Edison Cavani. The 24-year-old was arguably in the form of his life during the 2010/11 season, accumulating 33 goals in 47 games in all competitions. His aerial ability makes him an asset to the club and somebody to look out for in this emergent side.
Following the Italians, the Blues face their trickiest fixture yet; an away game against the German high-flyers. After finishing in a disappointing third place in Fußball-Bundesliga last season, they had to overcome a Champions League play-off game, easily beating Zürich 3-0 on aggregate.
Danger Man – Bayern Munich have an array of talent but boast significant power in midfield through the likes of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery. But it is breakthrough forward Mario Gómez who displays the biggest threat. The six-foot-two German ended up as the league’s top scorer with 28 goals last season. Anticipate a full frontal attack by Bayern in both fixtures.
The outsiders of the Spanish ‘big-three’ see Villarreal C.F compete in the Champions League after coming in fourth place and beating Odense 3-1 on aggregate in the play-offs.
Danger Man – Ex-Manchester United and Newcastle man, Giuseppe Rossi enjoyed his best season yet, netting 32 goals in 56 games. Starting his professional career off as 17-year-old for Manchester United, Rossi grew considerably more into an out-and-out goalscorer. His ability to find the net often linked him with a move away from the Yellow Submarines but his loyalty proved to be a big factor in Villarreal’s season, becoming Villarreal’s top scorer for 2010/11.
An easy opening win against Napoli will end up in a defeat to the hands of Bayern. If they can overcome Villarreal home and away, they will qualify with ease.
Manchester United will be desperate to forget their Champions League woes of last year and go the one step closer to winning the trophy again. After last year’s defeat to Barcelona, one where they hardly contested, it’s easy to see Sir Alex Ferguson’s determination to overstep the La Liga champions.
The Portuguese outfit are the first obstacles in Manchester United’s ambitions in attaining the trophy. After finishing second in Primeira Liga and a tricky 5-3 win over Twente in the play-offs, Benfica made it through to Group C.
Danger Man – The striker most likely to put the English side’s defence in trouble is Óscar Cardozo. With the likes of Alex Witsel and Pablo Aimar feeding him the ball, Benfica brag an impressive attacking force. Left-footed Cardozo is also well-renowned for his free-kick taking so dead-ball opportunities will prove to be dangerous. His tally of 24 goals in 42 games makes him a huge threat.
Next to face the Reds is Swiss team Basel; a club that won the Swiss Super League by a single point last season.
Danger Man – Usually a striker poses the biggest threat and someone as experienced as Alexander Frei is definitely a danger. However it is 19-year-old Xherdan Shaqiri who is making waves in Switzerland and on the international stage. The tricky winger has assisted and scored some vital goals for Basel last season and will be hoping to escalate into the player everyone knows he can be. The Champions League will be the perfect setting for the youngster.
As soon as the small Romanian club’s name was mentioned alongside last year’s runners up, everyone assumed Manchester had got an easy group. Although this seems the case, first time Liga I Bergenbier winners are an exciting team to watch.
Danger Man – Not a lot is known about right midfielder Liviu Antal, who only just made his debut for the Romanian international team this year, at the age of twenty-two. His passing ability matches his creativity skills and he will play a pivotal role in Oțelarii’s slim qualifying hopes this season.
With Manchester United’s league form beyond exceptional; they wouldn’t need to step up any gears in order to see of their opposition. Comfortable victories against Basel and Oțelul Galați will shelter any problems they may face with Benfica – however unlikely that may seem.
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