Five contenders for the Champions League crown
The recent UEFA CHAMPIONS’ LEAGUE draws have us, the fans shimmering with profuse excitement and anticipating with much aplomb the four exquisite rounds of pulsating fixtures where some top notch European giants will be desperately gunning for glory and vying each other to lay their hands on the most prestigious of all prizes that club football has to offer… LA OREJONA – THE COUPE DES CLUBS CHAMPIONS EUROPÉENS.
Lets take a look at the sides who stand the most realistic of chances to go all the way in the competition, with no offense to the rest of the sides who deservedly got this far. But the road to success from here on will certainly not be paved in gold. The battles will be tougher than ever. In all certainty, where a precious moment of magic (or madness) could presumably seal off your fate altogether. There’s no room for any complacency now even for the cream of the crop in Europe.
Now let’s get down to the action straight away.
THE CONTENDERS :
The Champions’ league draw last 8 in Nyon, Switzerland
The Bavarians looked a bit off their game in their past few games but they choked their critics in breath-taking fashion, with a resound thrashing of a lackluster FC BASEL side with consummate ease, winning the tie 7-1 on aggregate and proving their mettle in the process as a genuine contender for the title. On Friday, they got a difficult, but manageable draw against french outfit OLYMPIQUE DE MARSEILLE. But their eyes will be already on a potential semi-final showdown against REAL MADRID CF. In that scenario, a look even beyond the semis will be a tough ask for the German behemoths. But the very fact of the final being hosted at their very own home ground ALLIANZ ARENA may well act as motivation for Jupp Heynckes’ men to put up a real fight.
A David vs Goliath battle is on the cards after REAL MADRID CF drew cypriot minnows APOEL NICOSIA in the last 8 draw in Nyon. Considering the glaring gulf in class between the two, an easy progress for the spanish powerhouse is all but certain. Well, it just so happens that there have been always some noise from time immemorial about Jose Mourinho’s second season being the most fruitful one. He has in two years time fine-tuned a glamorous but arrogant side into a gritty rock-solid and stellar attacking unit with their confidence sky-high. They have some outrageously gifted midfield and defense while an enigmatic CRISTIANO RONALDO spearheading an already lethal midfield to tear anyone apart on their day. But one team that has stood in their are their nemesis FC BARCELONA. They have always denied them their fair share of successes and left them contemplating what just went wrong! if the two meet in the finals this season, the 9-time European champions won’t go down so easily this time around.
Chelsea’s shambolic defensive frailties were exposed brutally at the SAN PAOLO by a fire-fighting SSC NAPOLI side as evidently seen from their cataclysmic collapse in Naples. And many had even written off even their faintest of chances. But the blues did salvage some pride and stepped up a gear to turn the tie on its head at the STAMFORD BRIDGE triumphing 5-4 on aggregate. Much to the dismay of a shell-shocked Napoli. The premier league giants may well be in buoyant mood after such heroics but the next manager to take over the Blues remains in question. AVB was trying to change the way the club plays and he was unceremoniously sacked by Roman Abramovich. Reigning champions Barcelona are likely to be lying in wait in the semi-finals where the finishing line looms increasingly large for the blues.
They are widely touted as THE best side ever to have graced a football pitch. Probably the greatest ever. And then you look at their star-studded squad. Top quality all over the pitch and outright favorites to win the competition which makes you think whether the hype is justified. Well the records say it is. The easy-on-the-eye one touch silky brand of football they showcase makes one believe that they play on a whole new dimension altogether. They ‘ve got 3-time Ballon d’Or winner in the diminutive Argentine maestro, LIONEL MESSI, who many regard as the best ever! A pivotal last 8 clash with italian powerhouse AC MILAN certainly grabbed plenty of column space in the papers worldwide but against this side’s mighty attacking prowess the Rossoneri don’t really stand a chance. At least not with the little Mozart (Xavi) pulling the strings in an immaculate Barcelona midfield. A final frontier showpiece with either Madrid or Bayern is the least one should expect from a side of such caliber, provided the Catalans avoid any surprise defeat. No side in UCL history has defended it’s crown and Barca can just write a new chapter in the history of European football.
AC Milan are the outsiders with not so realistic of chances of winning this tournament. Even considered as the perennial underdogs for their last 8 tie too. Still, Milan’s European pedigree can never be called into question. Sitting pretty at the summit in Serie A, they are capable of springing a few surprises too on the grandest of stages as they have done on countless occasions before. Barcelona could eventually prove to be a potential banana skin for the seven-time European champions. But you can count them out at your own risk!