How will the English teams perform in the Champions League group stages?

The Champions League group stage has been drawn and even though English teams are usually very good at qualifying through their group it may not be as easy this team.

No doubt, Manchester City have the hardest group with Spanish giants Real Madrid, Ajax and Borussia Dortmund. Madrid may pose the biggest threat with Jose Mourinho as their manager and he will be desperate to win the trophy again. Cristiano Ronaldo is obviously one of their biggest threats but they have quality all through their side and if City want to prove they are one of the best teams in Europe they will have to top the group and show up the former Chelsea manager. But, City may not even get in the top two because Ajax have a lot of quality themselves with players like Christian Eriksen in their side and you cannot discount Dortmund as they should never have been in the bottom pot anyway and have won the German league twice in a row.

Now, neighbours Manchester United have a much easier task as they should top the group if they play to their potential and I can’t see Braga, Galatasaray or Cluj topping this group. The current Galatasaray squad contains a few former Premier League players in Milan Baros, Emmanuel Eboue and Johan Elmander so they will want to show their quality and show everyone they are good enough against English opposition. Braga are an interesting side but unfortunately for them they can never seem to take that extra step and compete right at the very top and are seen as the customary third place team in Portugal. Cluj will probably be the whipping boys of the group however it is worth noting that they have beaten Roma and drawn with Chelsea in the past so they may be dark horses.

Arsenal will face Schalke, Olympiakos and Montpellier in their group matches and they will also be hoping that they don’t have too many problems. Arsenal new boy Olivier Giroud will travel to the club he signed from a lot sooner than he probably expected and the French champions will want to show Giroud that he was wrong for leaving and should have stayed but I can’t see them posing too much of a threat. What separates Schalke from the rest in this group is they have a goal scorer that is feared all over Europe and can score all different types of goals and that man is Klaas Jan Huntelaar, he will try and show Arsene Wenger that maybe he should have tried to sign him instead of Lukas Podolski and Giroud. Olympiakos will always cause problems at home for any team so they will be relying on that and goalkeeper Roy Carroll may have a lot of work to do in the group stages.

Finally, reigning champions Chelsea will be hoping to start their campaign comfortably and they will surely progress but may not get things their own way with Shaktar Donetsk, Juventus and Nordsjaelland in their group. The standout team is Juventus but they are not the team they once were even though they were very impressive in Serie A last season. But, if Chelsea can stop Andrea Pirlo pulling the strings in midfield they will have a great chance of winning the group. Shaktar are also a decent side and have won the Ukrainian title for the last two seasons so they may put more of an effort into trying to topple some of the bigger teams in Europe this year and it is always difficult to play away in Eastern Europe so that could be difficult for Chelsea. Nordsjaelland are the current Danish champions but not a lot is known about them so everyone is expecting them to lose all of their games but this could work in their advantage and they could pull off a few shocks

Advertisements

Which clubs should be interested in signing Klaas Jan Huntelaar?

Klaas Jan Huntelaar has been linked with a move away from his current club Schalke and a lot of Premier League clubs will be interested in his services.

Huntelaar has scored 31 goals in 56 games for Holland

The Dutch striker didn’t have the best of times at the European Championships playing second fiddle to Robin Van Persie but that shouldn’t worry potential suitors as he had a fantastic season at club level scoring 48 goals in just 47 games which is a remarkable record. The 28 year old has played for some of the biggest clubs in Europe including Ajax, Real Madrid and AC Milan so he will not be fazed by joining any of the big teams in England. Personally I believe that at these clubs he was never really given a chance and if he was his goal scoring record would be even more impressive, at Real Madrid he only scored 8 goals in 20 games but he only started 13 of these and it was a similar story at Milan where he only got 7 goals in 25 games. He has proved he can score goals at all levels and I would love to see him in the Premier League.

The favourites to sign him would have to be Manchester United as he would fit into their style of play and I am sure winger Antonio Valencia would love to play with him as he is a striker that likes to attack the ball in the box and doesn’t mind putting his head in where it hurts. With the number of crosses the team puts in, Huntelaar could easily get 20 goals if he is first choice. With Dimitar Berbatov’s future at Old Trafford in doubt, I think Man United need another proven goal scorer to play alongside Wayne Rooney. Danny Welbeck has potential but he showed last season he isn’t always on his game and Javier Hernandez not quite replicating his first season form last year, Sir Alex Ferguson may just want to bolster his attacking options.

Liverpool are also linked with Huntelaar and he could easily strike up a good partnership with Luis Suarez. However the Uruguayan’s future at the club is also in doubt and he may be on his way this summer. I don’t see this as a bad thing and Huntelaar would be an ideal replacement, plus he may fit into new manager Brendan Rodgers’ style of play. He usually only plays one up front and he can play this role very well as he can hold up the ball very effectively. He is a lot better than Andy Carroll, so if they can sign him, it would be the end of the Geordies’ career at Anfield.

Finally, Tottenham Hotspur should definitely be looking at him as they only have one recognised striker in their squad at the minute in Jermain Defoe so they need more firepower for next season. They had Emmanuel Adebayor on loan last season but to sign him permanently they would have to pay his huge wage which they don’t seem to want to. Huntelaar, in my opinion is a better player anyway and would give them more than Adebayor. Plus his national teammate Rafael Van Der Vaart would help him settle in and would already have an understanding with him.