World Football: 6 Plausible Predictions for the Rest of the Season
Barcelona might just end up without any silverware this season. Recent results—defeat against Chelsea, being outplayed by Real Madrid on their own turf—are certainly indicative of that.
And Barcelona are not the only team in for a roller-coaster ride this season: Real Madrid were emphatically outclassed by Bayern Munich, Tottenham Hotspur are experiencing an imminent collapse, and today, Manchester United drew at Everton, thereby keeping Manchester City's hopes alive.
Unpredictability would be an understatement for the final stages of this season. And there's much to play for.
Here are six plausible predictions for the rest of the season.
6. Tottenham Hotspur Will Finish in the Top Four
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Before the turn on the New Year, Tottenham Hotspur were genuine title contenders. Fast forward to April, and they are now fifth in the standings.
It must surely be heartbreaking for Tottenham's supporters to be on the verge of such a massive collapse. They must surely be asking what went wrong.
They had quite an easy set-list at the end, and several predicted that Spurs should comfortably place in the top four. However, only a lone win in the last nine matches have hit Spurs hard.
Perhaps the managerial position of England being vacated hurt Spurs more than it did England. With all the drama surrounding Harry Redknapp's departure, it must have surely brought distress into the dressing room.
What's worse for Tottenham is the likely exodus that will follow should Tottenham fail to secure a Champions League spot. Luka Modric might be pried away and Gareth Bale might leave elsewhere.
However, Tottenham face Blackburn, Bolton, Aston Villa and Fulham in their last four matches, and emphatic wins against these sides might allow them to regain their rightful standings.
Their nearest rivals, Newcastle and Chelsea, are yet to face each other, and any result would favor Spurs. Newcastle also have to face Manchester City, who will be determined to grind out a result against them, while Chelsea might be distracted by the Champions League and also have to face Liverpool (an opposition that they always struggle with).
5. Chelsea Will Finish Outside the Top Four
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I mentioned earlier that Tottenham will finish in the top four this season.
And Arsenal, despite losing against Wigan and drawing against Chelsea, will certainly also finish strongly. Arsenal do have tricky fixtures against the likes of Stoke and Norwich, but I expect Arsenal to walk away with all three points in both games, regardless of the fact that Theo Walcott and Mikel Arteta are both sidelined with injury.
So Chelsea will miss out on next year's Champions League. Unless they win it this year, of course.
4. Barcelona Will Not Win Any Major Silverware This Season
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Real Madrid are now seven points clear of Barcelona after a 2-1 victory at the Nou Camp. Only Divine Providence can hinder Madrid from bringing in the trophy to the Bernabeu.
Onto the Champions League, Barcelona face Chelsea this Tuesday in the second leg of the semifinal. What makes the fixture especially tricky is that Chelsea have a one-goal advantage, while Barcelona failed to score any goals.
I'm certain that Chelsea will score at least one goal on a swift counterattack, leaving Barcelona to score at least three goals to win. Given Chelsea's impressive defensive performances against both Barcelona and Arsenal, that feat is next to impossible.
However, Barcelona are in the finals of the Copa del Rey, and it is still a major trophy in my books, but I wonder if Barcelona feel the same having been European superpowers for a few years now.
3. Manchester City Will Win the Premier League
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I still believe that Sir Alex Ferguson has the grit and determination to take home the Premier League title, but I won't be surprised if Manchester City stage a spectacular comeback either.
United collapsed spectacularly today, tying against Everton after giving away a two-goal cushion in the last 10 minutes.
Manchester City are now only three points shy of United, and these two clubs face each other in the next game-week.
Manchester City have been unbeaten at home, winning 16 of their 17 matches. With Carlos Tevez back into the mix of things, things do look better for Manchester City.
2. Real Madrid Will Not Win the Champions League
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Real Madrid are in sensational form, and they have now effectively won the La Liga after a symbolic victory over Barcelona.
However, in all probability, Real Madrid won't make it past the semifinals of the Champions League yet again this year. They were defeated by Bayern Munich in the first leg of the semifinals and will not only have to overcome the deficit but prevent Bayern to score at the Bernebeu.
A task easier said than done.
Both Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben are two exquisite examples of world-class wingers. Both have torn apart opposition on a consistent basis with their marauding runs and superb passes from the flanks.
Between them, they have racked up 23 goals and 16 assists in the Bundesliga and six goals and seven assists in the Champions League.
Furthermore, their incisive passes will be latched onto by Mario Gomez, who has racked up 36 goals this season.
1. Bayern Munich Will Win the Champions League
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While Chelsea will make it to the final based on their superb defensive play, they will be outdone by Bayern Munich in the final.
Unlike Barcelona, who try to pass the ball into the net, Bayern rely on their wingers to make marauding runs and provide constant supply into the box. Furthermore, Bayern have the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Toni Kroos and Philipp Lahm—all equally capable of giving nightmares to Chelsea.
And Bayern have the added advantage of playing the final in their home stadium.
Bayern will be the champions of Europe this season.
Follow me on Twitter: @BrenGoetze