Who will win the Champions League?

by James Cartwright

The start of group stage of the Champions League may be some time away but it’s never to early speculate who may lift the famous trophy in May at Wembley.

Looking at the reigning champions, Chelsea, they could be even more of threat than last year. Di Matteo signings in the form of Hazard, Marin and Oscar, will give the Italian a chance to move away from the anti football that won them the trophy last year, to a more attacking and possession based approach, the way Di Matteo has always liked to do things. Chelsea will again luck to be on their side, but who has ever won the champions league without luck. A good draw in the group stage and good form at Stamford Bridge and who knows they could retain the champions league.

Last years runners up, Bayern Munich could again be a force in the champions league. The added firepower of Mario Mandzukic should give them more goalscoring options other than Mario Gomez. The fact they lost the champions league final last year should give them the desire to fight for the double, with some players such as Ribery and Robben needing to prove their worth after a poor European Championship. If they secure the signature of Javi Martinez, he’ll give them an extra edge in the champions league with the ability to help close games out when needed.

When discussing who will win the champions league, you can’t forget Barcelona. Barca do have a new man at the helm in Tito Vilanova but he’s been assistant there since Guardiola took charge, so getting to know the players is not an issue. Watching Barca play their first game against Real Sociedad, it’s clear the Barca philosophy hasn’t changed, with the free flowing tika taka style, the fore front of their game. Barca should be particularly dangerous with the return of David Villa, the Spanish international will give them an extra dimension than the Messi centred tactics that restricted them to semi final finish last year.

La Liga champions, Real Madrid have been desperate to add to their nine champions league titles for ten years now, but their in a brilliant position to pose a real challenge this year. Cristiano Ronaldo should be ready to ignite the European stage once again after finally getting it right with the Portuguese national team. Real Madrid should be dangerous in the competition if they can secure the signature of Luka Modric, the Croat will give Mourinho the chance to rotate his squad to suit the league and the Champions League, something that is vital if you want win trophies. Like Ribery and Robben, Benzema will have a point to prove after a dreadful European Championships.

Manchester united should be interesting in this seasons champions league, they could be potential champions, if Rooney and Van Persie can perfect their partenership. The return of Vidic will give them a better chance of qualifying for the knockout stages, as they suffered in last years European competition, conceding some cheap goals that cost them their knockout spot.

The other Manchester club, Manchester City should be a force in the Champions League after gaining a first experience last season. After winning the premier league in dramatic fashion they could bring their confidence into the champions league, with a brilliant aray of attacking options they’ll surely in there when it matters, especially if Tevez and Ageuro can master the perfect striking relationship.

Italian champions, Juventus cannot be ruled. However the only issue has to be is whether Antonio Conte has his suspension lifted, otherwise they’ll struggle to pose a real threat. If they sign Fernando Llorente it should give them some fire power and extra dimension to their attacking threat. But for me, Italian sides don’t pose a threat coming into this seasons champions league.

Four sides that I don’t think will come close to winning the Champions League are PSG, Montpellier, AC Milan and Borussia Dortmund. First of all PSG first and fore most will struggle to gel their side together, something that has been evident in the first weeks of ligue 1, the weight of expectation will also cripple them. Small prediction, PSG will be out of the champions league in the Group Stage, the Qatari owners will sack Carlo Anchelotti. Last years Ligue 1 champions, Montpellier don’t pose a threat to the trophy at all, they don’t really to Ligue 1 either. The loss to Giroud is too much of a major blow, 25 or so goals out of a team that hasn’t been replaced isn’t going to win titles. It’s clear why AC Milan won’t win it this year, the club has turned into a shambles, letting go of your two best players, your top goal scorer to name one, isn’t going to land you winning trophies, that’s what’s happening down in Milan. Actually with Inter in the europa league and generally struggling in Italy, Milan is a footballing city very much in decline. Antonio Cassano has recently revealed his intent to leave, this perhaps suggests that AC isn’t in the greatest state it’s been for some years. Finally, Dortmund probably won’t get out of the group stages, they could pose a threat if the Lewandowski / Reus relationship can be as strong as that of Lewandowski and Kagawa. But for Jurgen Klopp, I feel his emphasis will be on winning another bundesliga title, it’ll be nothing short of a miracle if Dortmund win can repeat the feat of 1997.

It’s not long to go till the Premier European club competition is in full swing, I’m sure we’re set for another exiting competition this season.

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