Friday, September 21, 2007

Champions League 2007-08: First round tips

I have not been following the leagues, and have little knowledge of transfers and changes. However, I still feel I need to give my tips for the first round of the Champions League, however meager those tips may be due to my poor level of information…

The tips are in any case based on what happened after first matchday, so they may be a bit better and I may not look totally pathetic…

Group A:

Liverpool was not looking too strong against FC Porto, but still managed a tie, and under Benitez’ wise tutelage, they remain a strong cup side, so I predict that they will succeed in continuing from the group. Olympique Marseille is far from old times’ greatness, and may have confidence after starting with 3 points against Turkish Besiktas. Nevertheless, I think FC Porto will prevail: with a bit more luck they could have taken out Liverpool, and have a strong attacking force.

Group B:

Chelsea and Valencia are the obvious choices in this group where I think anyone will reduce Schalke 04 and Rosenborg to fight for the UEFA spot on third place. The two giants clashed in the quarterfinal last season, with Chelsea coming out victorious. This season, I think (and hope) Valencia will prevail to get the first spot: they started well with an away victory to Schalke 04, while a Chelsea team that has also looked shaky in the Premier League, only managed a tie in Trondheim. The Norwegians may be on their way into the UEFA Cup.

Group C:

The Spanish champions will win this group. After selling the galacticos, I think real football will prevail in the club instead of fashion and design. They started by defeating a Werder Bremen side that has before given them trouble, and should be ready to defeat the others. Lazio and Werder Bremen will be having a tense fight for second spot in the group, with the defensive Italians being upset by a fighting Bremen side.

Group D:

In this group AC Milan and Benfica are my obvious choices, and with AC Milan starting the whole thing with a victory against the Portuguese, I think they are in for a first spot. Shakhtar Donetsk started another good Champions League with a victory against the Glasgow Celtic, and it is likely these teams will be fighting for the third spot. Benfica, the Lisbon club with such great tradition and history, should get into the next round on second spot.

Group E:

Barcelona seems set for another good season, in spite of them not winning anything last season. They are still putting priority on entertaining attacking football, and young Lionel Messi is starting to shine brightly on the otherwise dark sky of great footballers today… They started with a sure 3-0 victory over Lyon and I think they will cruise through this group. The rest of the teams will be in a harsh fight for the second spot, which may be a true nail-biter. Lyon are still a strong team of talented youngsters and excellent foreigners, VFB Stuttgart are German champions, and Rangers should have confidence after defeating them. Hard to predict, but I go for Lyon, whom I have always felt sympathy for.

Group F:

Manchester United, defending English champions and with one of the most awesome young teams in Europe is likely in for the first spot, more so after starting with an away victory against Sporting in Lisbon. The only possible threat may be AS Roma: the often unpredictable Romans seems to be looking more stable, and started with a good 2-0 victory against Dynamo Kiev in Rome. They could upset Manchester, but I doubt they will, but should nevertheless take second spot.

Group G:

While many would have predicted Inter Milan, I think this group could be in for an upset. Fenerbahce, who apparently has bought some excellent new players, managed to defeat Inter in the first match, and PSV, full of young motivated players, also managed to defeat CSKA, and may also manage to upset the Italians. I only predict CSKA to be out of the race. Inter Milan should continue to next round, but I am not sure it will be on first spot. This will be one of the most interesting groups.

Group H:

Arsenal for sure. They started out destroying the twice UEFA cup champions from Sevilla, who seemed surprised to see the different level in the highest European competition. However, as they are now in, I predict they will prevail against the other two sides. Admittedly, I know little of either Steua or Slavia (more of the formers good historical results), but I feel they should not be a threat to Sevilla.

Let us see how I do!

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