footy musings from a (relative) newbie

Posts tagged ‘bayern munich’

Champions League Returns

Whenever this tournament starts a new season, it feels as if it never left. Sure it’s been 116 days since Real Madrid snagged their 10th European Cup in Lisbon. But that was last season. Thirty-one teams are now on a mission to dethrone the reigning champions and grab the cup themselves in Berlin on June 6, 2015.

The longer I watch this competition, the more it both frustrates and delights me. I love the Cinderella stories like Bulgarian champions Ludogorets’ remarkable run to this year’s Group stage; and the return of Cypriot team Apoel FC, after their own heroic run to the quarterfinals in 2012. On the other hand, it’s disheartening to see the latter stages of the competition become more and more of a closed shop.

I’ll still totally be watching, though, because it is some of the best football you’ll see anywhere on the planet. And that means I’ll also be making predictions about which teams will be celebrating passage into the round of 16 after Matchday 6. Cuz my prediction skills rock. Not.

Group A:
Atletico Madrid
Juventus
Olympiacos
Malmo
Winners: Atletico Madrid, Juventus

Group B:
Real Madrid
Basel
Liverpool
Ludogorets
Winners: Real Madrid, Basel

Group C:
Benfica
Zenit
Bayer Leverkusen
Monaco
Winners: Benfica, Zenit

Group D:
Arsenal
Borussia Dortmund
Galatasaray
Anderlecht
Winners: Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund

Group E:
Bayern Munich
Manchester City
CSKA Moscow
Roma
Winners: Bayern Munich, Manchester City

Group F:
Barcelona
PSG
Ajax
Apoel Nicosia
Winners: Barcelona, Ajax

Group G:
Chelsea
Schalke
Sporting Lisbon
Maribor
Winners: Chelsea, Schalke

Group H:
Porto
Shakhtar Donetsk
Athletic Bilbao
Bate Borisov
Winners: Athletic Bilbao, Porto

Group C and Group H are pretty wide open, so I reserve the right to change my mind on which teams will advance from those groups.

Advertisements

Tis the (Pre) Season

With the World Cup behind us, it’s time for European clubs to prepare for their seasons, which begin in mid- to late August. This means we USA-based fans get to see some of our favorite teams and players on our shores, as they arrive for pre-season tours.

These tours have been known to give us treats like training sessions open to the public and ripe for ogling; European players trying to understand and/or master baseball (who can forget Cristiano Ronaldo’s throwing out the first pitch at a Dodger’s game during last year’s pre-season); showboating antics that lead to scolding from their coaches, and the like.

This year, the last two UEFA Champions League winners – Real Madrid and Bayern Munich – will be here, as will AS Roma, Tottenham Hotspur, Inter Milan, Manchester City, A.C. Milan, Manchester United and…well, I could just name 90% of the squads from the Big Four European leagues, but I’m too lazy.

I’ll be watching as many of these matches as I can, though I confess: I still can’t get myself terribly excited about that International Champions Cup Fox Sports keeps flogging.

Almost Home

Juventus is really trying my patience losing to Benfica in the Europa League. They should be winning this competition easily.

In the Champions League, we had four very expensively assembled teams and they managed to come up with ONE goal in two games. So the less said about that the better. Say what you will about the Europa League, but at least Benfica, Juventus, Sevilla and Valencia scored some goals in their games.

Lisbon and Turin in Sight

So, it will be Real Madrid vs. Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid vs. Chelsea.

I’ll admit: these matchups do have me intrigued.

  • Will poor, sad Thibaut Courtois get to play for Atletico against Chelsea – the team that loaned him to Atleti in the first place? (Probably)
  • How will Real vs. Bayern play out after their last epic semi-final two years ago? (Hopefully without penalties!)
  • How far will Jose Mourihno get trying to gaslight Diego Simeone? (My guess is not very)
  • Will Atleti make history and get to the final 40 years after they last made it? (Possibly)
  • Or will we get a Chelsea (Mou) vs. Bayern (Pep) final (Ugh! Anything but that!)
  • Who says football isn’t soap opera, eh?

    In Europa League, it’s Benfica vs. Juventus and Sevilla vs. Valencia (all-Spanish affair alert!) Juventus is winning this, right?

    I’m not willing to predict the Champions League winner because at this level, there’s very little between the teams, which means the games will be decided by the smallest of margins and factors I can’t even begin to think of.

    The Semis are Upon Us

    The two top European Competitions have their final fours (see what I did there).

    In the Champions League, the semi-finalists are

    Atletico Madrid
    Bayern Munich
    Chelsea
    Real Madrid

    The post-mortems on the quarterfinals are as numerous as they are repetitive, featuring headlines about Chelsea’s remarkable comeback, Bayern showing their class, Atletico being the romantics/hipsters choice and Real scraping into the semi-final round.

    There are things I love about this competition, but when it gets to this stage, it often feels anti-climactic, probably because it’s usually the same 3 or 4 teams competing for the trophy every year. And as I’ve said before this is my least favorite part of the tournament because the stakes are so high that it makes the actual games fairly dull (though that doesn’t mean I won’t be watching).

    In the Europa League, Benfica, Juventus, Valencia and Sevilla have made the semi-finals, with Valencia coming back from 0-3 down to beat Basel. Kudos to Valencia, but I would have liked to see Basel in the semis.

    I’d like to get excited about the draw on Friday, but I know UEFA’s going to drag it out.

    And so…the Quarterfinals

    Glamour ties + Grudge Matches = Great European Nights

    At least we hope so. I’ve written before that Champions League matches at this stage can be so cagey as to drive away any semblance of enjoyment for us fans.

    That said, the balls in Nyon have spoken. My initial reactions to the quarterfinal matchups:

    Manchester United vs. Bayern Munich: Um…
    Barcelona vs. Atletico Madrid: A big European test for the Digeo Simeone project
    Real Madrid vs. Borussia Dortmund: A rematch of last year’s semi-final, which Dortmund won impressively.
    Paris Saint-Germain vs. Chelsea: Is it wrong to call this the Oligarch’s Invitational? If so, I don’t want to be right.

    Now that the field has been whittled to the best of the best, we’re due for a “shocking” upset. All of the above teams should beware.

    On to the Next

    Manchester United survived Olympiacos – and many a gloom & doom prediction – to advance to the Uefa Champions League quarterfinals. Time will tell if this good result is a turning point for David Moyes and his team or just a blip of good fortune in their season of misery.

    Rounding out the quarterfinal lineup is Borussia Dortmund who survived a (sort of) comeback from Zenit St. Petersburg.

    This Friday’s quarterfinal draw should be interesting.

    Atletico Madrid
    Borussia Dortmund
    Chelsea FC
    FC Barcelona
    FC Bayern Munich
    Manchester United
    Paris Saint-Germain
    Real Madrid

    The only prediction I feel safe in making is that Chelsea will have to play one of the Madrid teams.

    Tag Cloud