Europe’s biggest club competition, the Champions League, has been going for months. Now it has finally been narrowed down to eight teams, one from each of Cyprus, Germany, Italy, England, France and Portugal, and two from Europe’s best footballing nation, Spain. For those of you only getting into this competition now, here is some information about the remaining teams:
Currently second by a point in the top league in Cyprus, yet still holding on and doing magnificently in Europe. Apoel definitely are the underdogs in the competition and many people will be shocked at how they managed to get this far in a run that saw them knock out quality French side Lyon before finishing top in their group, ahead of Porto, Zenit, and Shakhtar Donetsk, all of which have good recent European pedigree. This quality set of performances by the Cypriots will mean whoever they next face will be unsure of how to approach the game.
Similar to Apoel, Benfica are currently second in their league, but this is unsurprising since they are behind the Portuguese powerhouse that is Porto. In Benfica’s run to get to the quarter-finals they had some great results, knocking out the Russian outfit Zenit over two legs but more amazingly helping to knock Manchester United out of the competition entirely by securing two well-deserved draws against them in the group stages. Benfica will be a tough side to face; their attacking nature means that, despite often having the worst of the possession, they still get many shots away, which with their quality strikers is a threat to most sides.
Here is a team that the majority of sporting fans will have heard of thanks to their pedigree in European tournaments. They are one of the biggest sides in Italy, currently sitting comfortably at the top of Serie A, and they will be ecstatic at the thought of adding another Champions League trophy to accompany their current seven (they are the second most successful team in this tournament, behind Real Madrid). AC Milan’s team is now a mixture of old experienced players and younger more energetic players, and with their striker Ibrahimovic on top form (scoring 20 of 22) they will be keen to take on any team in a bid to dominate Europe once more.
Olympique Marseille, a very well-known French side, are currently sitting in a shocking ninth place. They have lost their last seven games across all competitions, and are therefore having a very bad spell. Usually I think people would give them a good chance against most teams, but with their current dire form I can’t see them getting any further in this competition. Still, this is the furthest they have gotten since the last time they won the competition in 1993, so their fans should still be pleased!
Real Madrid are currently sitting in first place in Spain, six points clear of Barcelona. This would suggest they are big favourites to do well in this year’s Champions League with their team of world-renowned superstars, led by the special one (my favourite manager) Jose Mourinho. Everyone involved at Real Madrid is the best in their field so the Galacticos should really be expecting a final place at the very least.
Since the sacking of manager AVB the Chelsea players have decided to play well, though in their last two games they have lost and drawn which could indicate a return to the poor form we saw earlier in the season. The experience and determination of the ageing blues side may give them an advantage in this competition, but I’m not sure they possess the certain something that would make them stand out as the best in Europe.
Whenever you hear the name Barcelona only one thought comes to mind: “Messi,” the Argentinian player who is completely destroying every defence out there. This season he has played 45 and scored 54; this is phenomenal and won’t be beaten by many or any players ever. Alongside this player Barcelona are full of talent, including quite a few of the Spanish national team (the current champions of Europe), so these are the favourites to win the competition and I don’t know many people who will bet against this eventuality.
Bayern are currently second in the German Bundesliga, and are also doing fantastically in the Champions League. Players such as Robben and Ribery are well-known among football fans and are a lot of young children’s sporting heroes. This shows the quality the Germans have to offer and explains why they are such a dominant force. I can quite easily see them getting further in Europe.