Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Champions League 2004-2005: First round predictions

Tonight, another exciting season of the Champions League is starting. I am looking forward to the customary Tuesday and Wednesday nights with high-quality football and a pint of beer. For me, this has become a happy tradition!
This will surely be another interesting season, full of surprises. Although I failed in every single one of my predictions last season, I will not let myself be scared, and will optimistically try again. Here are my predictions for the first round of this season UEFA Champions League:

Group A: Although Monaco has sold out a lot of players, they still look strong, and with the experience from last season, they will win this group. It will be close though, as both Liverpool and Deportivo will fight hard. In the end, I believe Liverpool will get the second spot. Liverpool is looking stronger this season, with Mr. Benitez ready to do with Liverpool what he did with Valencia.
Group B: Real Madrid will surely win the group, as they look much stronger than other teams of the group. At the same time, I believe Roma will get the second spot, although they will have to fight hard for it against a dangerous Dynamo Kiev side.
Group C: This group is very intersting, with three of the European top teams. Juventus will win the group, as the Italians have a strong attack, together with the usual 'cattenaccio' defense. The always exciting team from Ajax Amsterdam will get the second spot. I believe that all the circus in Bayern Munich will lead to another disappointing season.
Group D: This group will have a surprise, which is that Lyon will win it. The French champions will be a strong contester this season. However, Lyon and Manchester United will be unchallenged winners of this group, as Manchester United will surely take the second spot.
Group E: In this group, there is one sure winner, which is Arsenal. As usual, Arsenal is hungry to get success in the Champions League. Although I don't believe it will be this season either, I think that Arsenal will start with force in this group. For the second spot, PSV Eindhoven seems to have the best chances.
Group F: AC Milan and Barcelona. These are two of the strongest teams in Europe right now. The Italian champions have become even stronger than last season, and now look as a very good tip for winners of the whole thing. Barcelona has bought new players, and is playing entertaining and attacking football. Both teams should go to the next round, although I find it hard to say in which positions. Shame for Celtic and Shaktar.
Group G: The defending Spanish champions and UEFA cup winners from Valencia will win the group. They will edge ahead of the other teams, because of the strong defense, combined with its new good Italian strikers. Inter will be a bit of a disappointment, although they will edge ahead of Werder Bremen on the second spot. All German teams will be out in the first round.
Group H: This group will be a duel between Mr. Mourinho's current team, Chelsea, and his former team, Porto. Because of the new aquisitions, Chelsea will win the group. However, defending champions from Porto will get to the next round with their second spot.

So, those are my predictions! I hope I am right, but I also know I am often not!
Good luck to the fans of all teams!

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