Champions League Favorites
This season's Champions League looks very wide open, given the range of teams that can expect to challenge for Europe's greatest football prize. The usual suspects of Real Madrid and Barcelona will be among the contenders, while Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund have lost none of last season's swagger. Meanwhile, the likes of PSG, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal, and Atletico Madrid can all claim to be within a decent shout of a semi final spot. That is ten teams, all of whom can beat each other on a given day. This promises to make for a mouth-watering round of 16 and quarter-final line up. With so many great teams and great clashes, who is likely to come out on top?
A Real Problem:
Despite firing Jose Mourinho and spending 80 million on Gareth Bale, Real Madrid look no closer to being a top team than they did last season. They struggled in El Clasico against Barcelona, with Bale being substituted after 60 minutes. Coach Ancelotti has not found his best system yet, and it could be a few weeks before he does so. While Real have a huge margin for improvement, is it going to be enough to lift the giant trophy in May? That is unlikely. Real are still a world-class center forward, and a world-class center back short of a truly top team. The likes of Bayern and Dortmund will rip them apart at the back, while the profligate Karim Benzema squanders more chances than he scores. The departure of Mesut Ozil was not a wise move either, with Isco looking a slightly lesser version so far. That being said, there is always potential when you have Cristiano Ronaldo in your side.
Atleti the Dark Horses:
Diego Simone has done a masterful job at Atletico Madrid since taking over the club less than three years ago. The former Argentine footballer has revolutionized the standard of a club that had been underachieving for decades. Despite losing big name players such as Radamel Falcao, Simone has compensated and continued to create a winning team. They currently sit in second place in La Liga, deserving of their sport between the country's two giant teams.
Diego Costa and David Villa have been a revelation up front, while the likes of Arda Turan and Koke make for a very accomplished midfield. Despite playing a standard 4-4-2 formation, Atleti match up well against any opponent. Expect them to cause particular damage against the English teams, who will struggle to deal with their quick passing and intense pressing style. If you are an Atleti fan, you might want to buy the tickets available on ticketbis for the Champions League final. Who knows, your team could be one of the finalists, especially given their recent form.
It is tough to look beyond Bayern Munich for this year's title. They look an even better team under Pep Guardiola, especially in Europe. There are two worries with Bayern, with the first being complacency. Winning can become a habit, but it can also lead to a drop in standards. In addition, the "striker-less" formation that Guardiola prefers can cause problems when teams effectively defend, such as the Super Cup final against Chelsea. If you want to catch Bayern's next home game in the Champions League, you can get match tickets. With qualification all but secured, Bayern may give their fringe players a run out in the remaining fixtures of the group stage.
Miracle for Moyes?
David Moyes has been struggling in the Premier League with Manchester United, but their European performances have been assured and accomplished. Stranger things have happened than a Champions League rookie going all the way to lift the trophy (Jose Mourinho, Roberto di Matteo), but it would take something special for United to overcome the likes of Barca and Bayern. However, a magic run to the final would certainly make up for any disappointments Manchester United endure domestically, and it would buy Moyes time to rebuild the squad.