CHAMPIONS LEAGUE 2013: FOOTBALL EUROPE
With the popular domestic leagues well underway- most of them are already 2 to 3 rounds into the 2013-14 season- the focus will inevitably shift to the competition of the Champions League.
Europe’s premier football teams will do battle soon, with the groups only recently drawn after plenty of swapping and swatting during the transfer window.
The Groups are such:
Group A: Manchester United, Shakhtar Donetsk, Bayer Leverkusen, Real Sociedad
Group B: Real Madrid, Juventus, Galatasaray, Copenhagen
Group C: Benefica, PSG, Olympiakos, AnderlechtGroup D: Bayern Munich ©, CSKA Moscow, Machester City, Viktoria PizenGroup E: Chelsea, Schalke, Basel, Steaua BucharestGroup F: Arsenal, Dortmund, Marseille, Napoli
Group G: Porto, Zenit St. Petersburg, Atletico Madrid, Fc Austria Vienna
Group H: Barcelona, Milan, Ajax, Celtic
After losing the DFL Supercup match against rivals Borissa Dortmund, new manager Pep Guardiola’s team outgunned Chelsea in the UEFA SuperCup game on penalties, beginning their season in a high. They are Germany’s most successful team with 10 international trophies (5 time winners of CL), and have been in the final for 3 of the past 4 seasons. Defending Champions and reigning European Champions, FC Bayern are favorites to win their second consecutive Champions League title after a historic treble last season.
Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo, with Carlo Ancelotti in charge. The Mourinho era is well and truly done with, after 3 consecutive semi final finishes, and a trophy-less last season with a shattering Copa Del Ray Final loss to Atletico Madrid. What’s more, Zinedine Zidane is assisting the Italian coach- who has already successfully won this title with AC Milan. The team thirsts for a CL title, their first since their famous 2002 win, after letting Barcelona back to the top in 2012-13. Yet, this could be the season they have been waiting for.
Spain’s most successful team in the last decade, the notable new additions are Brazilian Wunderkid Neymar and manager Tito Vilnova. 22 time Spanish Champions Barcelona have been successful in Europe lately, with their most resounding loss being a two-leg 7-0 loss to Bayern Munich in last season’s Champions League. They represent the Spain v/s Germany battle, along with perennial bridesmaids and rivals Real Madrid. Messi has already started this season with a bang, and could be looking to wrest back the title from holders Bayern eventually.
The 2012 Champions League winners are now managed by their favorite prodigal son Mourinho. Group E is relatively straightforward for them, with Schalke being their toughest challenge. Their record against German teams, the recent Supercup penalty shootout not withstanding, has been pretty impressive. They are already looking solid for another English league title, with rivals Manchester United still adjusting under new manager David Moyes.
English football’s most successful Premier League team (20 titles) is now in alien waters with perennial God Sir Alex Ferguson venturing into retirement after a last hurrah in 2013. The 3-time Champions League winners have had a tough start to the season, despite a Community Shield Win over Wigan, and have a lot to get used to before embarking on yet another Europe Adventure after a disappointing 2013 campaign that ended at the hands of Real Madrid.
One of the dark horses for this year, with Brazilians Silva, Maxwell and Alex in charge of an underrated team. The Laurent Blanc managed French team are now the richest club in France, and look to convert their 2013 league title into something bigger. After Ancelotti’s exit, PSG have now become the fourth most successful French team and look menacing in this year’s Champion’s League in a mild Group C. The arrival of Swedish superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic in 2012 has boosted the fortunes of the team.