August 25, 2006

Chelsea get Barcelona in the Champions League group stage but should i care?

The big news to come out of yesterday's Champions League group stage draw in Monaco was that Premiership champions Chelsea will be renewing their feud with Spanish and European Chapions Barcelona. We can look forward to Frank Rijkaard and Jose Mourinho locking horns again, as a rivalry seems to be brewing between arguably the two best teams in Europe.
However, Chelsea must be wary of Werder Bremen, who finished second in the Bundesliga last season, and it is critical that they pick up points from their back–to–back clashes with Barcelona.

Elsewhere, Manchester United will be involved in a 'Battle of Britain' with Celtic, after being paired with the Scottish Champions, Benfica (Portugal) and FC Kopenhavn (Denmark).

2005 Champs Liverpool will play PSV Eindhoven, Boredeaux, and make a return to Istanbul to face Galatasaray.

Last years runners up Arsenal will face Hamburg, Porto and face an arduous and difficult journey to the Russian capital to play CSKA Moscow.

All in all though the European Cup and Champions League seems completely pointless to me, merely giving absurd amounts of money to the big clubs, which the grops stages heavily favour. If the competition returned to its knockout roots, abandoned in the 1992/93 season, then things would really hot up in my opinion. This will of course never happen as the G14 clubs and UEFA love the money generated by the group stages.

Hover, the competition is almost as much as a procession as the Premiership.
In my opinion, there are only six teams who can win the Champions League this year, and they are – Barcelona, Chelsea, Inter Milan, Manchester United, Liverpool, and Olympics Lyonnais.
Should the others bother to turn up? Probably not really worth it in my opinion.

- 2 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Interestingly since the 2003 final between AC and Juventus there has not been a final between two of the favourites. In 2004 Porto beat Monaco, in 2005 obviously Liverpool won it and in 2006 Arsenal were there so it’s probably less clear cut than it first appears.

    31 Aug 2006, 11:34

  2. recent history would suggest that someone will surprise us – perhaps it will be werder bremen.
    it’s interesting that bayern munich are no longer regarded as one of the favourites, go back 5 years or so, and they would always be up there in the list.
    don’t rule out ac milan though – they’ve managed to kepp most of their players and still have alot of class and experience.
    i think it will be an english club, i’ve got a feeling this season isn’t going to be a great one for barcelona, potentially upset by a strong real madrid (who could feature in the champs league) and perhaps a little tired from 2 good seasons and the majority of their players featuring at the world cup, they’ll be going off to the club world chapionships in december as well.
    if man utd can find goals and have their first team out, they’ll be hard to beat, chelsea and liverpool i think will both be there or thereabouts, there’s alot more variety to liverpool’s play now so i think rafa can do it again. chelsea obviously have class, they just need to find a way to make it gel.
    i don’t think arsenal will do it – they’ll be relying heavily on henry again, and it will be interesting to see how they do defensively this time around, can they possibly be that good at the back again?

    31 Aug 2006, 13:22

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