Football

Which teams will dominate in Europe next season?

Will Mourinho be toasting another Premier League title? (©GettyImages)
Will Mourinho be toasting another Premier League title? (©GettyImages).

German football at the moment dominates football, but as the signing of Neymar indicates, Barcelona are firmly back in business. But what exactly will happen next year? 

With the managerial tide of change in four of the top six teams in England, next season will be one to savour in the Premier League. But in La Liga, will Barcelona continue to conquer; will Bayern and Juventus do the same in their respective leagues? Only time will tell. For now though, we can only predict.

Barclays Premier League

Managers are changing everywhere next season as David Moyes begins his reign in the red half of Manchester; Manuel Pellegrini is the favourite to succeed Roberto Mancini in the blue half. 

Meanwhile Jose Mourinho returns to Chelsea and Everton just don't know who they want to take over. But Roberto Martinez is at the moment the runaway favourite. 

The only two managers who will remain with their current clubs are Andre Villas-Boas of Tottenham and Arsene Wenger of Arsenal. Having already outsmarted his opponent in the race for fourth spot this season, many expect Arsene Wenger to do the same this season. 

My predictions for the following top four in the Barclays Premier League are as follows: Chelsea will finish top of the pile followed closely by Manchester United in second and City in third. Despite a hefty transfer budget the best that the Gunners can probably finish next season is 4th, again. 

Jose Mourinho led Chelsea with great character and charisma during his time at Stamford Bridge between 2004 and 2007 and therefore his Premier League experience will be critical. 

Chelsea already have a very strong roster with the likes of Juan Mata, David Luiz and Eden Hazard and so many more, but they will also have the experience of players such as Frank Lampard on their side as well, add one 20-goal-a-season striker to lead the line for Chelsea and they are already favourites with the 'Special One' at the helm. 

David Moyes will carry a title-winning Manchester United squad to a close second as each of the top three's fate will probably be decided on the last day. 

Although Manchester United won the title this season, it will be a great challenge for Moyes to keep the charge going and all the players happy. This is what made Sir Alex Ferguson so great a manager. Expect Moyes to do well, but be just off winning the title for the 21st time for Manchester United. 

Manuel Pellegrini will probably take over at City, and I expect to see this side playing beautiful football. The only lapse City will probably have is the lack of Premier League experience that the manager has, but expect Manchester City to mount a more serious title challenge in the coming campaign than they did in the one that just went past. 

Arsene Wenger may make additions, and this Arsenal squad may prove me wrong, but I expect 4th place for Arsenal. The squad that Arsenal have even with a few additions does not appear to be deep or strong enough to really push at the final hurdle. 

That being said, I can see Arsenal still being up there until late March, but an injury or two will cost them which means that they will only just secure Champions League qualification, again. 

Tottenham and Liverpool and Everton will be in contention for 4th for a while, but with Bale reportedly interested in a move to Real Madrid Tottenham next season will no longer have as much of a chance as they had this campaign. 

Bundesliga

The winners of the treble will be a new-look Bayern side. With Pep Guardiola taking the baton from Jupp Heynckes he’ll face a tough act to follow. 

With the possible addition of Robert Lewandowski and Mario Gotze from Dortmund this Bayern side should be able to comfortably reach the top of their domestic league again. 

Dortmund will mount a challenge, but losing two star players to their bitter rivals really weakens their chances. Jurgen Klopp however, is keen on De Bruyne and Aston Villa's Christian Benteke. 

Even those names being lined up as potential replacements I still cannot see Dortmund winning the title ahead of Bayern. Elsewhere in the league it is interesting to see how Freiburg will balance Europe with the Bundesliga, especially with the loss of star-striker Max Kruse. 

In the top four in the Bundesliga however, I do not see any changes really happening. Expect Shalke 04, Bayern Leverkusen, Dortmund and Bayern to qualify for Europe's premier competition next season. 

Whether Eintracht Frankfurt manage to do well in the Europa League next season remains to be seen, how they will also juggle their responsibilities on and off the pitch is also something that will be watched with keen interest in Germany. 

All in all, expect the one-team league that the Bundesliga is now becoming with the usual wildcard being thrown in just to add to the excitement.

La Liga

The 15 point gap between Barcelona and Real Madrid that currently exists seems fairly large, but how close these two teams are is a spectacle worth seeing. 

With the departure of the 'Special One' from the Bernabeu, expect a manager who will keep Real Madrid in contention for the title right up until the last day against the Catalans, when they will inevitably lose it. 

Barcelona's consistency in the Spanish top flight is testament to their great ability even though when it comes to head-to-head matches against Madrid when they often lost last season I just can't see this Barca team being beaten over the course of a season. 

With the confirmed addition of Neymar, Barcelona will now have the added flair necessary to get them the necessary amount of points. With Messi and Pedro also in the frontline, it seems Barcelona will outscore opponents where their defence fails them. 

Barcelona will most likely make additions to their back-line, and they must. Losing out 7 - 0 on aggregate against Bayern was not good enough, and their defence has to improve in order to help their attack. As funny as it seems, that result against Bayern will be the one that will make Barcelona come out even stronger next season.

Serie A

Will anyone in Serie A be able to topple Juventus from their throne? No. Having added Fernando Llorente in this transfer window already, expect the Old Lady to add another world-class striker to their ranks before the window slams shut on August 31. 

Already having an incredible defence and midfield, should Juventus bolster their attack and become the complete team they want to be, I don't see anyone beating them. Although Napoli finished second last season, I do not see a repeat of that. 

With star-man Edinson Cavani being continually linked with moves away it seems difficult to see Napoli doing all that well next season, even if they do find a half-decent replacement. I see a young AC Milan side finishing second. With Balotelli already allowing his presence to be felt in Milan scoring 12 goals in 13 appearances and El Shaarawy and Niang looking to be fantastic alongside him, Milan's attack will look great next season. 

Adding another world-class midfielder to their ranks to complement Riccardo Montolivo will also be a priority. If Milan do make the required additions they could become contenders, but not too serious ones as of yet. 

Ligue 1

AS Monaco have already signed the likes of Radamel Falcao, James Rodriguez and Joao Moutinho but it may not be enough to see them land the title in their first season back in the French top-flight. 

I expect to see PSG once again winning the league title, but this time a lot more comfortably.Thiago Silva is the best centre-back in world football at the moment and Marco Verratti is developing into a sensational player and who can forget Zlatan Ibrahimovic? 

I can see PSG bolstering their squad this summer to make a bigger charge at the Champions League in the coming campaign and the season that has passed will only help them to gel and really become a solid unit. 

Lyon are encountering financial hardship at the moment and may be forced to sell a lot of top players and Marseille just don't have the budget to rival the one of PSG. Another one-team league, but AS Monaco will be an addition which will make Ligue 1 a lot more popular in the coming years.

Champions League

This is the tough one. A record-breaking Bayern side lifted the trophy this season, but what will happen next campaign? Well, all four of the English teams (if Arsenal manage to qualify) will make it into the knock-out stages and a further three will represent the country in the quarter-finals. 

Barcelona and Real Madrid will be stopped again when they reach the semi-finals and Bayern may not even reach the final. Chelsea however, will. Having many players already experienced in how to lift this particular trophy the final in Lisbon could be between Chelsea and PSG. 

PSG have many serious players and their aim is to lift the Champions League in the next five years. With their domestic division all but theirs, I can see PSG enjoying prolonged success in this competition. Manchester City, United and Arsenal will reach the quarter-finals at a maximum, with plenty of top sides around Europe fighting for a spot in the last eight. 

Expect the next campaign to be a great success for English football but not so great for the German sides. I can't see this Dortmund side reaching the quarter-finals if they have tough enough opposition and Bayern will still be in transition under Guardiola. Schalke (if they make it) and Leverkusen will also represent the Bundesliga, but one of them will fail to make it past the group stage. Who will win it, I don't know. 

All in all these are pretty ambitious predictions, and probably most of them will not happen. But what I can say is that next season will be one that will be incredible and in most leagues extremely competitive. Expect teams to be going into 2014 with everything to play for. With a World Cup in Brazil coming at the end of all of this, all I can say is that I can't wait.


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UEFA Champions League
Football
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La Liga

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