Football

Champions League: Who are the favourites to win?

One of many key players: Arjen Robben (©GettyImages)
One of many key players: Arjen Robben (©GettyImages).

As the group stage of the Uefa Champions League draws to a close, the attention will soon turn to the knockout stages of the competition.

Bayern Munich won the competition last year, defeating Borussia Dortmund 2-1 at Wembley stadium.

Can they go on to win it again? Here’s a look at the potential winners.

Manchester United

Manchester United have qualified from Group A after their emphatic 5-0 away win at Bayer Leverkusen.

It is David Moyes’ first Champions League campaign and he will be looking to make it as far as possible to prove why he was chosen to be the man to take over from Sir Alex Ferguson.

Do United have what it takes to win the title? Possibly. There’s no question that there are very good side but can they compete with the likes of Munich, Real Madrid and Barcelona? If they are to reach the final then they will hope that Robin Van Persie and Wayne Rooney will provide moments of magic to fire them into contention.

Real Madrid

Real Madrid have set off like a train in the competition, gathering 13 points from five games. It is without doubt that the Spanish giants will be looking to get their name on the trophy again after a drought from 2002.

They have a special array off attacking talent. Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, are the two most expensive players in the world.

They are on form and if they can keep that up, then there is no reason why the team cannot reach the final and go on to win it. The only doubt with Madrid is their defence, they seem to leak goals. If they can tighten that up, there is every chance we will see them lift the trophy once again.

Juventus

It’s been a poor start from Juventus by their standards in the group stage, only collecting six points from five games. They need one point to secure their place in the last 16.

They are probably one of the outsiders for the title. However, their typical Italian set up means they won’t ship too many goals, so if they can continue that and nick an away goal here and there, then there’s always a possibility they could work their way through the rounds.

The Serie A leaders will hope they can find a level of consistency in the competition to give them confidence of going far in the competition.

Paris St-Germain

The wealthy French club have cruised through to knock-out rounds of the competition with one game to spare.

They are also unbeaten in the group. With high class players such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edinson Cavani, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Javier Pastore, these could be a surprise package this year.

That’s not saying there are going to win the competition but they could progress further than most people would think. Ibrahimovic will be the key for them though. If he can stay fit, then there is every chance that he could lead them on to great things. These are definitely one to watch out for.

Bayern Munich

Last year’s winners and this year’s favourites and it is clear why. They have a plethora of talent in the squad and their strength in depth is a big key as to why they are favourites.

Last year they were by far the stand-out team, that may sound obvious because they won it, but they look so comfortable against their opponents.

When you have players like Mario Gotze, Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery, and Bastian Schweinsteiger, then there’s no doubt that you’ll be one of the favourites. They have cruised through their group with five wins out of five but they will have to avoid defeat against Manchester City in their last game.

Manchester City

Another team also secured a last 16 place. City will be hoping for a better showing in Europe than previous seasons and they have started very well this year.

If they beat Bayern Munich by more than 3-1 then they will win the group. The side are scoring goals aplenty, with talent such as Sergio Aguero, Alvaro Negredo, Jesus Navas, Yaya Toure and with David Silva to return from injury, the goals will continue to flow.

The Citizens have scored 41 goals in 10 home game in all competitions this season. An unbelievable stat which they hope will continue, and if it does they have a strong chance of making it through the competition.

Chelsea

The 2012 European winners will hope for a repeat of that moment but they must secure top spot in their group first which they should do; they have to beat Steaua Bucharest.

In comparison to the other contenders, they aren’t as strong, but with Jose Mourinho in charge, anything could happen. The man knows what it takes to win the Champions League and he will be hoping for more success in the competition with the London side.

In their group game against Basel, they failed to register a shot on target so they will need to improve on that if they are to have any chance of progressing into the later stages of the competition.

Arsenal

What a start it has been for Arsene Wenger’s side this season. Top of the Premier League and top of their Champions League group.

The marquee signing of Mesut Ozil in the summer has got the fans believing that success, in the form of trophies, will be returning to the Emirates stadium.

Whether that be Champions League success is debatable but they’re certainly in the race for domestic competition success. As far as their chances go on the European stage, they will need to ensure their key players stay fit, or else their lack of strength in depth may put bed to any chance they had of progressing to the latter stages.

Borussia Dortmund

Last year’s runners up will hope they can go one step better this year, but to have any chance of doing that, they must beat Marseille in their last group game to secure their place in the last 16 of the competition.

They lost Mario Gotze to rivals Bayern Munich in the summer but replaced him with Henrikh Mkhitaryan to add to their talented squad which include Robert Lewandowski, Marco Reus, Jakub Blaszczykowski and summer signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

The problem Dortmund have this season is injuries. The have Nevan Subotic, Mats Hummels, Marcel Schmelzer, Ilkay Gundogan injured and they all would be in the starting line-up. That will have a major effect on the team’s chances of going one better this year, but if they qualify, they will certainly be in the mix.

Atletico Madrid

These could be a surprise package in the competition this year. They have had an incredible start to their domestic league campaign, they currently sit 2nd, three point behind leaders Barcelona. It seems the added pressure of the European competition hasn’t effected them at all, sailing through as group winners with a game to spare.

With star striker Diego Costa scoring goals at the rate he is, then they could not only surprise a few people but gain a lot of respect from the European giants. Definitely one to look out for.

Barcelona

There’s not much that needs to be said about the Spanish champions.

They know how to win the competition. Without doubt, they’ll be in the mix when competition reaches its latter stages. They also be hoping that their star man Lionel Messi will return as soon as possible from injury. He’s an integral part of the club. The four time Ballon d’Or winner is the game changer, and without him, will they be able to compete with Bayern Munich? That’s the one to answer. Only time will tell for the Catalan giants.

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Topics:
Football
Manchester United
UEFA Champions League
Barcelona
Bayern Munich
Real Madrid

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