Top 5 Teams To Gain Glory in The Champions League
With the group stages set and the draws already made, the real meat of the European Football Season is about to begin.
Last year saw the end of English dominance in the latter stages of the tournament and the return of Jose Mourinho to the top of European club football.
This year he will try to lead Real Madrid to glory, but is his club amongst the main contenders for the crown for 2010/2011?
One cannot overlook powerhouses like Chelsea, Manchester United, the Milanese clubs, and Barcelona, but can there be a darkhorse run to the finals like previous seasons?
Though Lyon are no longer at the top of Ligue 1 after a record run of seven consecutive titles, they are my pick to upset some of the giants along the way and make it to the finals.
Last year their disciplined approach and some lucky timing saw them defeat Galacticos 2.0 before once again exiting Europe in failure. This year however might be the year they challenge for the treble and finally make a mark in the Champions League.
The key to their run will be the newly acquired Yoann Gourcuff.
One of the few French players to not make a total disgrace of himself during the World Cup, the playmaker has the skill, pace, and power to create nightmare matches for any team in the competition and could be the X factor against a larger side.
The fact they are in a relatively easy group will only help their cause when it comes to the knockout stages.
The runners-up last season are certainly a team to watch again this season.
Arjen Robben is injured, but that is almost always a given.
Franck Ribery is in trouble with the law, but his play was sporadic towards the end of the season and was suspended for the final anyway.
No, the real star of Bavaria this season will be Thomas Mueller.
After an incredible World Cup where he became the youngest Golden Boot winner of all time; he will be the player that will consistently give other team problems as the season progresses.
Toss in his mercurial teammates that each have the ability to absolutely take over games from the wing, and a coach dedicated to open and attacking play; Bayern Munich will definitely be a team to watch in Europe.
The Special One has finally arrived at the club that most felt he was destined to land at one day.
After a summer of reshaping Los Galacticos, Europe will be the test as to whether his collection of stars can show the teamwork and discipline that has seen his sides conquer both domestic leagues and Europe on multiple occasions.
This may be Mourinho's most talented squad ever which is a thought that will frighten all but the toughest opponents going into any match.
However, only time will tell whether or not The Special One can break the run of terrible form by the former Kings of European Football.
One of the most successful managers on the European stage in the last decade, Carlo Ancelotti brought the Stamford Bridge faithful their first ever double in his first season with the Blues.
Despite losing to his nemesis and former Chelsea coach Mourinho in the knockout rounds last season, Ancelotti has a squad that is healthier and more acclimated to his system than a year before and is ready to make a run for the finals.
The return of Michael Essien, the summer coming out party of Gael Kakuta, the signing of Ramires, and the red hot form of Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba, Florent Malouda, and Nicholas Anelka, makes Chelsea amongst the best clubs in Europe at the moment and a team to be dreaded before heading onto the pitch.
If Carletto can finally bring the European Cup to Stamford Bridge, he will ease the aching hearts of Blues' fans around the world and lay claim to the title of best manager on the continent for his generation.
When a team features most of the starting line-up of the reigning European and World Champions and adds the best player in the world, they must be the prohibitive favorites to win the Champions League.
Barcelona boasts a squad that makes even seasoned managers like Sir Alex Ferguson, Carlo Ancelotti, and Jose Mourinho green with envy.
Despite a disappointing loss in the semi-finals in their title defense last year, Barcelona have added the dangerous David Villa to the ranks that include the best midfield for a club team in the last decade.
Lionel Messi had a sub-par World Cup with Argentina and will only be that much more motivated re-capture the European Cup stake his claim as the greatest player on the planet.
One thing that has changed since Barcelona's dominating run two seasons ago is the level of competition; almost all of their true rivals are much stronger than before and have the tools to attack the Catalans at every position.
Whether Pep Guardiola can handle the tactical challenges before and during the match will ultimately decide the balance between the immense talents Barcelona brings and will be facing matchday in and matchday out.