Saturday, August 30, 2008

my two cents on the CL group stages

Group A: Chelsea, Roma, Bordeaux, CFR Cluj

I lol at everybody writing off Bordeaux. Fear Laurent Blanc, people. Fear him. This isn't as straight-forward as it looks.

Group B: Inter, Werder, Panathinaikos, Anorthosis

This I think is as straight-forward as it looks. Watch out for the Ten Cate v Mourinho verbal showdown, though - does anybody remember the former Barca assistant coach [er, the one who was assistant to Rijkaard, as opposed to Sir Bobby and Van Gaal] 'allegedly' applying his boot to the backside of either Mourinho or a member of Chelsea's backroom staff [depending on who you listen to] at the end of Chelsea v Barca in 2005?

Group C: Barca, Sporting, Basel, Shakhtar

Again, not as easy as it looks. Shakhtar have been improving steadily and are perhaps second-favourites to go through, and Sporting have a very good, very young squad. It is the height of arrogance to assume that Barca are going to walk it, as most of the Spanish press have done.

Group D: Liverpool, PSV, Marseille, Atletico

Alright, what's with everybody writing off the French teams? And what's all this talk about Atletico being a different team without Torres? Marseille are good. Atletico are a different team without Torres - a better one. I don't mean to suggest that he's not a fine player, just that his departure meant Atletico could stop being a one-man team and now they have a fine attack filled with good players. This group isn't going to be easy for Liverpool, or anybody else.

Group E: Manchester United, Villarreal, Celtic, Aalborg

The last time ManU ended up in a group with Villarreal, the Yellow Submarine ended up top and United bottom. [Of course, that group also included Lille and Benfica.] That's not going to happen again, and I would assume both will qualify, but Celtic may have something to say about that too.

Group F: Lyon, Bayern, Steaua, Fiorentina

This is the group of death for me. Lyon may have slipped back in the CL in recent years, but they've signed well and should be a force again, and I can't see Klinsi's Bayern not finally getting it together sometime. Steaua got some decent results in the last couple of seasons and should not be written off, but the real threat here is the Viola, who are capable of beating anybody in this group on their day.

Group G: Arsenal, Porto, Fenerbahce, Dynamo Kyiv

Another tough one to call. Arsenal should come through in the end, but Porto are always a threat, and Fenerbahce are very difficult to beat. Don't write off Dynamo either: they beat Spartak 8-2 on aggregate to qualify. Nobody's here to make up the numbers.

Group H: Real, Juventus, Zenit, BATE

Forget their league form, Zenit are for real [no pun intended], and they will give the bigger names a fright or two. The Real-Juve clashs are hard to call, with a lot depending on whether Real sign someone/keep Robinho/have their Dutch players fit, because their squad is actually pretty small right now, and I don't buy the talk of Juve being a diminished force for a second.

[Still busy as hell, but felt like getting my viewpoint across. If I don't die in the next two weeks (not literally, I hasten to add), look for a season preview.]

1 comment:

The Big Football said...

It's hard to not see the favorites go through in my opinion, they always have and will now too.