Champions League Group B Preview




To Win Group B
Real Madrid 2/5
Juventus 5/2
Galatasaray 12/1
FC Copenhagen 50/1

Real Madrid: Cristiano Ronaldo

Three successive Champions League seasons under Jose Mourinho have seen the nine-time winners Real Madrid reach the semi-final stage but fail to get any further.

Now with Mourinho having been replaced by Carlo Ancelotti, twice a winner as coach of AC Milan, Los Blancos go in pursuit of a 10th European Cup once more.

And as he has been to all things Real since his arrival from Manchester United in 2009, critical to their hopes of success will once again be Cristiano Ronaldo, who notched 55 times last season.

Top scorer in last year’s competition with 12 goals, the 28-year-old Portuguese forward will be Madrid’s main attacking threat once more, despite the arrival of Gareth Bale from Tottenham.

Lethal whether it’s from three yards or 30, tremendous in the air and fantastic in wide areas, Ronaldo is very much the complete modern forward.

Ronaldo’s name is already certain to go into the club’s history books alongside other greats like Raul, Alfredo Di Stefano and Ferenc Puskas, but leading Real to la decima would add that little bit of extra gravitas.

Juventus: Arturo Vidal

The Juventus midfield is one of the world’s best, and at its heart lies perhaps the best box-to-box midfielder in world football today: Arturo Vidal.

Tenacious and destructive, deft and fantastic, the 26-year-old Chilean has a little bit of everything in his locker and exemplifies Antonio Conte’s hard-running philosophy to a tee.

“Il Guerriero”—the Warrior—has played a vital role in the Bianconeri’s twin successes in Serie A, while he also led the Juve scoring charts last season with 15 goals in 45 matches (all club competitions). A recent two goal haul against Lazio showed that he is set to continue his goalscoring ways this season.

The Italian champions have added the likes of Fernando Llorente and Carlos Tevez to their number this summer, while Paul Pogba continues to make tremendous strides in his fledgling career, and Andrea Pirlo continues to age like a fine wine.

However, if they’re to make their mark on the tournament, then the outstanding Vidal will need to be at his most potent.

Galatasaray: Wesley Sneijder

Having been discarded by Inter Milan during January after somewhat losing his way following his heroics of 2010—where he played a crucial role in the Neazzurri’s Champions League success and the Netherlands’ run to the World Cup final—Wesley Sneijder made the move to Istanbul and Fatih Terim’s Galatasaray.

On his day the mercurial Dutch playmaker is among the most brilliant No. 10s plying their trade in world football today, blessed with an outstanding range of passing, clever movement and wonderful vision.

However, in recent years those days have been few and far between, but in Terim he is now playing under an astute coach, who, despite the tough draw, will be instilling a belief in his side that they can advance from a difficult group.

Buruk Yilmaz and Didier Drogba, the powerful strike duo, will always give them a puncher’s chance, but if Sneijder’s brilliance can be unlocked on a consistent basis, then Gala will trouble even the best.

FC Copenhagen: Fanendo Adi

A new name in Danish football, Nigerian forward Fanendo Adi joined Copenhagen, back under the stewardship of Stale Solbakken, in mid-August and has wasted no time in making his presence felt.

Arriving from Slovakian side AS Trenclin, Adi is an out-and-out goalscorer, always looking to get himself into goalscoring positions in and around the penalty area.

Two goals in his opening two Danish Superliga matches have been his reward so far, and if the more fancied teams in Group B are defensively slack he will punish them.