Thursday, August 28, 2008

Champions League Draw + Analysis

CFR 1907 Cuj

Tyler's Analysis: Chelsea really have this group sewn up without having played a game. Roma should and usually takes 2nd spot, perhaps Blanc can work the magic he did in Ligue 1 last season and surprise someone in Group A, doubtful, but worth a look.

Mike's Analysis: Can Big Phil do what Avram Grant and the Special One couldn't? We shall see. Roma will work harder than ever for Champions League success (with the final being played in Rome next May)... thus, Chelsea and Roma will advance easily. Those two meet in late October and early November, and should be fantastic matches. Laurent Blanc's Bordeaux will struggle, but look for Yoann Gourcuff to shine. The on-loan midfielder from AC Milan barely played in Italy, but has boatloads of skill. Will be interesting to watch CFR Cluj. They field quite the international squad... including Canadian 'keeper Lars Hirschfeld, who isn't first-choice, but has Champions League experience with Rosenborg.

Inter Milan
Werder Bremen
Anorthosis Famagusta

Tyler's Analysis: Mourinho's group is a breeze. Bremen and Panathinaikos battle for second behind Inter. The bigger question is how Anorthosis actually managed to make it into the Champions League. I saw them play last year against Tottenham at White Hart Lane in a Uefa Cup game. Spurs won that game 6 - 1... Famagusta didn't even have a chance and looked like they couldn't beat a Sunday League team. Overall, look for everyone to pick up 6 points off Anorthosis Famagusta, should any team fail to do that... they are the ones that will grab 3rd and miss out on the rest of the party.

Mike's Analysis: Mourinho and Inter should have no problem. Werder Bremen, led by Diego and Torsten Frings, will grab the second spot. Leaving former Arsenal star Gilberto Silva and Panathinaikos on the outside. Anorthosis Famagusta... no me gusta.

Sporting Lisbon
FC Basel
Shakhtar Donetsk

Tyler's Analysis: Barca will pick up the wins they need to progress in top spot, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's a dog fight between the other 3 teams.

Mike's Analysis: Barca has too much class for this group. Sporting has the depth to get them through to Round 2. Shakhtar should beat out FC Basel for the UEFA Cup spot.

PSV Eindhoven
Atletico Madrid

Tyler's Analysis: This group is going to be good and I wonder how much the injury to Steven Gerrard will affect Liverpool. Liverpool should advance along with Athletico Madrid, but it may come down a question of in which spot, 1st or 2nd.

Mike's Analysis: As much as I hate Liverpool, they'll advance. The rest of the group should be interesting. Atletico has a great looking squad, with plenty of goals coming from Sergio Aguero and Diego Forlan, but PSV are always tough and have owned the Eredivisie for years. Look for Atletico and PSV to fight for that second spot, with Marseille going home.

Manchester United
Aalborg BK

Tyler's Analysis: Manchester United look poised to win this group, despite in being tough... but they've been lucky so far this Premier League season, any stumble could produce an outside shot at someone taking over the group. The real battle will be Villareal and Celtic battling for 2nd spot.

Mike's Analysis: Add Utd to teams I hate... I absolutely detest them. So in honour of my hatred for Man U., I will go with Villarreal. But, it should be mentioned that the Yellow Submarine have a fantastic squad. Capdevila, Cazorla, Pires, Senna, Nihat, Giuseppe Rossi, along with American star Jozy Altidore are just some of the stars that will push Villarreal to the top. Utd will take second... as those matches v. Celtic promise to be entertaining.

Olympique Lyonnais
Bayern Munich
Steaua Bucharest

Tyler's Analysis: Bayern returns to the Champions League and looking at their early season Bundesliga games, don't stand a chance coming out of this group. If they can start to get things going under Klinsmann, then look out, but until that happens, they are in tough. I'm also interested to see what Fiorentina can do this year (with a home game on the 1st leg on Champions League play so I can see it while I'm in Italy)

Mike's Analysis: Bayern should be the class of the group, but Lyon and Fiorentina will provide stiff challenges. The match to watch will be on November 5th, when Luca Toni and Bayern visit his old Fiorentina squad (they first meet two weeks prior in Munich). La Viola beat out Milan for the final Champions League spot last season, and made it to the UEFA Cup semi-finals (along with Bayern). With former Milan striker Alberto Gilardino joining Adrian Mutu, they'll definitely have the fire-power to compete.

FC Porto
Dynamo Kiev

Tyler's Analysis: Arsenal are the favourites to come out of Group G, but this group is going to be a dog fight. Although, Dynamo Kiev might be hoping for a few winter meetings to help them advance.

Mike's Analysis: Arsenal will take the group. Last season's quarterfinalists Fenerbahce will battle with Porto for second. Dynamo Kiev will be tough at home, but will find it difficult in away matches.

Real Madrid
Zenit St. Petersburg
BATE Borisov

Tyler's Analysis: I think Real Madrid will win this group, Juventus get through. A lot of people feel that Zenit will give both teams trouble, but I predict they are a bit of an over-achieving club and will fail to impress this time around.

Mike's Analysis: I'm thinking Juve will knock off Real for top spot. Last year's UEFA Cup winners Zenit will hang around 'til the end, but it looks like they'll take third, and try to defend their UEFA Cup title. BATE is the first Belarusian side to get this far... sadly for them, this will be as far as they go.

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