After going through seven out of the eight Champion League groups, GiveMeSport contributor Brendan Bernegger wraps up his analysis with Group H.
After a tragic semi-final exit to Bayern Munich, Barcelona are back in the UEFA Champions League after clinching their 22nd La Liga title.
Barcelona were not really active spenders in the transfer window but acquired one big name. Top Brazilian talent Neymar packed his bags and left Santos for Barcelona in a deal worth €57 million. The Brazilian forward will team up with four time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi to form one of the deadliest combos in all of football.
Neymar was the only signing for Blaugrana despite a huge need for an experienced and talented centre back. Carles Puyol is a 35-year-old, injury prone centre back who is not getting any younger.
Barcelona got rid of David Villa to make room for Neymar. The 31-year-old went to Atletico Madrid after spending three years at Barcelona. Villa wasn't the only big name to depart away from the Camp Nou. Young Spanish midfielder Thiago Alcântara was reunited with former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola. Thiago, 22, left for €25 million to Bayern Munich, that same team who destroyed Barcelona 7-0 on aggregate in last year`s semi-final.
Barcelona open play on the 18th of September as they host Ajax. Don't doubt Barcelona as they should easily win their group but should struggle on the defensive front in the latter stages of the tournament.
After coming close to upsetting Barcelona in the Round of 16, Milan find themselves playing Barcelona twice more in the Champion`s League for the third straight season in a row.
During the 2011-2012 season, Milan were drawn in Group H with Barcelona, Viktoria Plzen and BATE Borisov. Last year, Milan and Barcelona met in the Round of 16. After a 2-0 win at home in Milan, "i Rossoneri" came close to beating Barcelona before Messi and Co. turned on the after burners and scored four goals at home to win 4-2 on aggregate.
Another season calls for another encounter. Milan did strengthen their defence by signing Colombian international Cristián Zapata. The 26-year-old Colombian left Villarreal and joined the likes of Mexes and Constant in that back line.
Milan also acquired out of favour Juventus forward Alessandro Matri for a fee to be believed about €12 million. The 29-year-old Italian strengthens a front line that consists of Mario Balotelli and Stephan El Shaarawy.
Lastly, Milan welcomed back club legend Kaka after last playing for the club in 2009. Kaka was a huge success at the San Siro and led the club to a Champions League victory over Liverpool in 2007. He also played an intricate part of Milan's 2003-2004 Serie A victory. Milan will easily get out of their group but will come in 2nd place.
Holland's most renowned team is in the UEFA Champions League for the fourth straight year in a row. Ajax won the Eredivsie for the 32nd time last year and have been drawn into another tricky group.
The Dutch champions suffered a huge set back as star midfielder Christian Eriksen departed for Tottenham Hotspur. 21-year-old Eriksen is regarded as one of the hottest prospects currently in football.
Ajax then lost Toby Alderweireld to Atletico Madrid. Alderweireld has played five full seasons with the first team and was a force in the back four. Lastly, Ajax sold within the group as they got rid of winger Derk Boerrigter. The 26-year-old Dutch player bounced around Holland before finally being transferred to group rivals Celtic.
Ajax replaced Toby Alderweireld by signing Mike van der Hoorn. The 20-year-old Dutch centre back played two season for FC Utrecht before transferring to the Dutch capital. Ajax opens up group play on the 18th of September in Barcelona.
Another Champions League campaign will result in another third place Europa League finish.
After the relegation of Rangers there has been one predominant team in Scotland. Celtic Glasgow has won 44 Scottish League titles and they have won the league the past two years. Celtic surpassed all expectations last year as they qualified for the Round of 16 before being shut out by Juventus. Celtic were in a group with Barcelona, Benfica and Spartak Moscow.
Celtic got 10 points from a possible 18, which included a shock 2-1 victory over Barcelona at home. Celtic lost many familiar faces this transfer window. One of these faces is Victor Wanyama. Wanyama, 22, transferred to Southampton. Celtic also lost Gary Hooper. Hooper was Celtics leading goal scorer in the league as he scored 19 goals.
The 25-year-old transferred back to England as he currently plays for Norwich City. Despite losing two big names, Celtic responded by signing Finnish wonder kid Teemu Pukki. Pukki spent two seasons at Schalke and is currently Finland's best player.
Also mentioned atop, Celtic signed Derk Boerrigter from group competitors Ajax. Despite making an impact last year in the group stages, Celtic won't have much luck and will most likely end up in fourth.
2. AC Milan
Write for GiveMeSport! Sign-up to the GMS Writing Academy here: http://gms.to/130seMa
DISCLAIMER: This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.
Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE: http://gms.to/writeforgms