Uefa has just made the annual draw of the Uefa Champions League, the most exciting football competition in the world. This year only two Italian teams have reached the group stage, while Udinese lost its qualification match. That’s a very sad news but honestly Italian football cannot compete with the three big championships at the moment in Europe, Premier, Liga and Bundesliga, so we have to make do with that.
Juventus is in the Group E with Chelsea, in my opinion the strongest team in the group, and with insidious Ukrainian team Shakthar, while the Danish side shouldn’t be a big obstacle for the bianconeri. They face only two slight problems, they don’t play in Champions from quite a lot of time and maybe some of their key players lack the experience on that stage (Vidal, Bonucci, Matri, Quagliarella, etc.) and, that Conte will be disqualified for the whole group stage. While Shakthar that perhaps has less quality that Juventus, is used to play the Champions and at home could be a tough team to play against. Maybe Nordsjælland is not that bad but history says that Danish teams don’t go far in this competition…Chelsea is definitely the most improved team in Europe after the summer transfer market, in my opinion even more than PSG, they finally bought a man of pure fantasy like Hazard, the player they have lacked since Zola and they could really aim to win the Premier and to reach semi-finals of Champions, even if I think this is the strongest Chelsea since the Mourinho era no-one has won the major European tournament two times in a row since AC Milan in 1989-1990, thus I don’t think Chelsea will this year. My forecast: 1. Chelsea; 2. Juventus 65%-Shaktar 35%; 4. Nordsjælland.
AC Milan has been drawn in the group C, the revolutionised team has a difficult road to travel. Zenit is a consolidated team, it won twice the league in the last two years and it is now at the top of the league, what’s more this year the Russian championship follow the European calendar playing from autumn to spring and since they have an Italian coach I think they will benefice of the news already this year. They have a very good team with a strong base that play together since a while, and Mr. Spalletti is a very good coach, so be careful Milan, you’ve got a contender for the first place. Anderlecht like many times Belgian teams are very difficult to play with, they close every space and are very good at their home stadium, anyway I don’t thing they could go through the next stage. Malaga is a weakened team with an experienced coach, it’s difficult to say if they will be competitive because of their troubles with their owners, I think it will be very difficult for them to go through. AC Milan has faced a huge change recently and now is a totally different team from the one that classified 2nd in the last Serie A. I think that the transfer market hasn’t gone as it should and now they are definitely weaker than before. Bojan is a talented player but scores few goals, Pato is always being injured, Robinho scores 3 goals and misses 30, Pazzini is an honest player but not a champion, and behind them things are not very different. My forecast: 1. AC Milan 50% – Zenit 50%; 3. Malaga 50% – Anderlecht 50%.
Let’s we hope to have fun! Just another thing I’m really happy for Iniesta who has won the UEFA Best Player in Europe Award, he really deserves it!