25 Bold Predictions for Next Season's Champions League
Predicting anything in the Champions League is bold. Anything.
Barcelona going out to Chelsea, Real Madrid losing on penalties to Bayern Munich, Chelsea making the final...
Can anyone honestly say that they saw all that coming?
Europe's toughest competition is also one of the most unpredictable and shocking at times.
Despite this, here are 25 Bold Predictions for Next Season's Champions League.
Lionel Messi Will Score Six Goals in a Game
Lionel Messi scored five goals in one Champions League match this season, and who would bet against him to go one better next season?
You may argue that isn't a bold statement, but seen as though no one has ever done it before...I'd say it was.
Goal Line Technology Will Exist
With trials occurring as I type—hopefully—goal-line technology is set to be wheeled out in time for the 2012/13 season.
It's still not yet definitive, but let's hope it's ready to go for the Champions League where perhaps the biggest financial implications can occur when a referee or linesman get's it wrong.
Newcastle Will Appear
Currently sitting in fourth place in the Premier League with a game in hand against third placed Arsenal, Newcastle are in the form required to make the Champions League for next season.
They have the players, the desire, and the results that seem to be going their way.
Chelsea Will Be Defending Champions
With Roberto Di Matteo's Chelsea facing Bayern Munich in the final of 2012, there's just something about the Stamford Bridge outfit that is making me think: "winners."
If you can beat Barcelona, then you can beat anybody.
I wouldn't be surprised to see Chelsea return to the Champions League in the 2012/13 season as reigning champions.
Spain Will Have a Team in the Final
Barcelona and Real Madrid were both unlikely losers in this years semifinals, but the Spanish teams will regroup, replenish, and restock their squads for next season in a bid to go a step further in 2012/13.
With the likes of Neymar rumoured to be joining Barcelona in the summer, defences need to be at their best.
Anzhi Makhachkala Could Be a Side to Be Reckoned with
Guus Hiddink has managed to get Anzhi Makhachkala into within touching distance of one of the Champions League places available in the Russian Premier League.
Should the Russian giants make the grade, they will use their oil-rich bank account to strengthen heavily in the summer which could spell danger for the rest of the contenders.
Real Madrid Will Win the Competition If Jose Mourinho Is Still Coaching Them
Real Madrid had the opportunity to beat Bayern Munich in this season's semifinal but ultimately fell short on a penalty shoot-out. If they had won, then surely they would have steamrolled Chelsea.
IF Jose Mourinho stays another season at the Bernebeu, I expect the Portuguese manager to win next season's competition. IF.
The Trophy Will Be Stolen and Then Unearthed by a Dog
Call this a hunch, but there's a chance the Champions League trophy will be stolen from it's rightful location only to be unearthed in the bottom of a garden wrapped in newspaper by a dog named Pickles.
Too unoriginal? Okay then.
Rafael Benitez Will Be Coaching
Rafael Benitez has been out of football management ever since he was sacked from Inter Milan back in December 2010.
Benitez will be starting to get that desire to coach again after being without a club for so long, and surely it's only a matter of time before the Spaniard is back in the Champions League.
There Will Be Some Early Struggles for the Top Teams
With a large number of the top European clubs having players involved in the European Championships and the London 2012 Olympics this summer, fatigue could play a major part in early season results.
With the possibility of qualification matches having to be played for some teams, they may find fielding their best XI is next to impossible.
England Will Have Teams in the Semifinals
After having an English team make the Champions League final for seven out of the past eight competitions—eight teams technically if you count Manchester United vs Chelsea as two in 2007/08—it's probably not too bold to suggest that an English club will be in the semifinals next year.
However, with the disappointing campaigns of Manchester United and Manchester City in Europe this season, it just goes to show that nothing should be taken for granted.
David Villa Won't Be Playing for Barcelona
David Villa is still recovering from his broken shin bone suffered in the World Club Cup competition in December 2011, and whilst he could still make the Spanish national side for the European Championships, I don't think he will be playing for Barcelona in the Champions League next season.
If Neymar comes aboard the Catalan ship, Villa may jump overboard and play for somebody else.
Manchester City Will Be Found in the Latter Stages
With the amount of money that Manchester City have spent so far—and are likely to spend in the summer—their owners will be expecting to see the club perform a lot better in the Champions League next season and at least make the latter stages of the competition.
With their quality, it shouldn't be a problem.
We Will See a New Italian Mix
With Juventus and AC Milan looking sureties to make the Champions League for next season, there is still some doubt as to who will be joining them.
Lazio, Udinese, Napoli, Internazionale, and AS Roma all seem to have an outside chance of making the grade.
Perhaps we'll see a bit more of a mix up from the Italians next season.
Germany's two big teams—Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund—have all but sewn up their Champions League qualification with Schalke 04 and Borussia Monchengladbach looking hot favourites to join them.
It will be a bridge too far for VfB Stuttgart and Bayer Leverkusen.
Obviously Real Madrid and Barcelona will be in the Champions League next season, but it will be Valencia and big spenders Malaga who join them in 2012/13.
Ruud Van Nistelrooy will be wanting to add to his already impressive goal tally in the competition if Malaga represent.
Montpellier and powerhouses Paris St. Germain will almost certainly be in the Champions League next season, with Lille OSC and probably Olympique Lyon set to fight it out for the third and final place.
Paris St. Germain are spending big money these days and could really prove to be a tough nut to crack come next season.
Unsurprisingly, FC Porto and Benfica will be in the Champions League for 2012/13, and they will be joined by Braga.
That qualification trio means that Sporting Lisbon look set to miss out next season.
The Television Audience Will Beat the Superbowl
The 2009 Champions League final attracted an estimated television audience of 109 million people, three million more than the Superbowl that year.
With modern technology and licensing improving all the time, plus the American market increasing its acceptance of soccer, I expect the Champions League final to outscore the Superbowl in 2013.
Golden Boot Winner
With Lionel Messi out of the competition with 14 goals and Mario Gomez still in the competition with 13, this year's golden boot could go either way.
Next season Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will fight it out for the shiny silverware.
My money is on Messi.
Clean Sheets and a Golden Glove Award
Jose Mourinho just never loses at home—or at least very rarely—which means his defence must be pretty solid.
With solidarity comes clean sheets, and with clean sheets comes golden glove awards.
Iker Casillas will win the award in 2013 for Real Madrid.
With Lionel Messi, Nicolas Gaitan, Kaka, Franck Ribéry and Karim Benzema all on five assists each in this years competition, only Ribéry can set himself aside from the pack.
Next season will see Kaka play more games and increase his contributions outright.
Still No Defending Champions
Since the inception of the Champions League, no team has defended the trophy—or won it two years running if you prefer.
Barcelona were pretty close to giving themselves a chance this year but ultimately fell short.
With Chelsea and Bayern Munich slugging out this years final, I think we'll go another season without seeing a defending champion reign supreme.
If Manchester United Win, Ferguson Will Retire
Alex Ferguson has to retire at some point, and what better point to do it than after you've just won the Champions League.
If United coupled that with the Premier League title, Ferguson should call it a day and go out on a high.
I've mentioned a couple of surprise package teams already in this slideshow, but Paris St. Germain are my pick to be distance runners in next years competition.
You heard it here first.
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