Monday, September 12, 2011

Champions League Preview!!

As always, the Champion's League group stage throws out some tantalizing match-ups.  This season's fixtures are no exception.  The draw seems to be quite balanced this go-around and soccer fans will enjoy some fiery competition.  
Uefa Champions League Group Breakdown:
• Group A
Bayern Munich | Villarreal | Manchester City | Napoli
The "Group of Death" might be Group A with Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich, big spending Man City, Spanish contenders Villarreal, and Italian side Napoli all in the mix.  Barring a major upset, Bayern and Man City will likely see off their competition.  The winners of this group are bound to make a deep run in the competition.

• Group B
Inter Milan | CSKA Moscow | Lille | Trabzonspor
Having completed a treble-winning season two years ago, Inter Milan will be the favorite in Group B.  There is a considerable amount of talent in the remaining teams; expect fierce competition for the second spot.

• Group C
Manchester United | Benfica | Basel | Otelul Galati
The Red Devils have certainly lucked out and find themselves in the most plush group of the tournament.  Benfica should progress from the group but may go no further in the knockout round.
• Group D
Real Madrid | Lyon | Ajax | Dinamo Zagreb
This should prove another exciting compilation.  Expect Real to carry the group.  Its difficult to peg the second spot.  Ajax typically specialize in young talent, Lyon are Ligue 1 leaders, and Zagreb bring Eastern European flair to the table.  Definitely a group to watch.
• Group E
Chelsea| Valencia | Bayer Leverkusen | Genk
Chelsea are the predictable favorites.  We could see a slugfest between Valencia and Leverkusen to make it to the knockout round.  A champion from Group E?  Probably not.
Dortmund's Fortress: Signal Iduna
• Group F
Arsenal | Marseille | Olympiakos | Borussia Dortmund
Another lively group, this one should be fun to watch.  Arsenal/Dortmund will have the first two spots.  Both could have a great run in the tournament.  Arsenal need to turn Emirates into a fortress to succeed; Dortmund already have that reputation.  Marseille may put up a fight, but will have to overcome great odds to progress.  
• Group G
FC Porto | Shakhtar Donetsk | Zenit St Petersburg | APOEL
Portuguese Liga & Europa Champs FC Porto should dominate the field.  With increasing European experience, this side may dream to achieve something more this season.  The remaining sides are relatively soft, Zenit will likely grab the second berth.

• Group H
Barcelona | AC Milan | BATE Borisov | Viktoria Plzen
Barca are definite favorites to lift the trophy again.  An icon of the European football landscape, the Rossoneri look to make their mark again this year.  BATE have shown quality in recent years but have a tall order to escape the group.  The Czech champs face a grim outlook, given a tough group draw. 

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