FC Barcelona may have suffered a scare when they lost to Celtic 2-1 in Glasgow but with victories in every other game in the Champions League, qualification as group winners has been secured. Benfica, on the other hand, have it all to do as they attempt to create the biggest victory in their history to qualify as runners-up in Group G.
Since the Champions League final in 2009, where Barcelona comfortably beat Manchester United 2-0 and in a season where they went on to life five other trophies, including the league title, it has been declared that the Spanish side were the best in the world. Since then they haven’t failed to reach the semi-finals of the European competition and you wouldn’t bet on them failing this season either.
Six points clear of second-place Real Madrid in La Liga and with Celtic being the only team to defeat them in Europe and in the league, Pep Guardiola’s successor Tito Vilanova has already set them on course for a successful season. With four wins out of five, Barca know they are only playing for pride when they meet Portuguese outfit Benfica in the next fixture.
In Champions League Group E, Shakhtar Donetsk and Juventus hold the key to see out Chelsea in what will be the shock of the European competition. With Ukrainian side Donetsk needing only a solitary point to qualify as group winners, they and Juventus can both play at a comfortable pace to see themselves through to the knockout stages.
However, the fight for top spot is never over until it is mathematically impossible and Antonio Conte knows his Italian side can finish in first if they are to claim victory at the Donbass Arena. Up against the Ukrainian team who have only tasted defeat twice in the whole season, and with a previous record of 49 games unbeaten themselves, this is going to be an extremely tough fixture.
Shakhtar boast an incredible achievement of playing eighteen Ukrainian Premier League games and winning seventeen, having lost just once this campaign. Even in Europe, Mircea Lucescu’s men have only lost once and with attacking midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan bagging nineteen goals in twenty-four games, Shakhtar are a club bleeding talent.
Champions League Group A comes to a close with a bang as two giants of the group come head to head in a winner-takes-all battle. Second-place Paris Saint-Germain take on leaders FC Porto with a point difference between both clubs, meaning the team who triumphs takes three points and ultimately wins the group.
In what is the highest-scoring team in the Champions League, Porto have won four games, including a 1-0 victory over PSG at home and drawn with Dynamo Kyiv to total 13 points. PSG, on the other hand have managed to win all but the Porto away game to tally 12 points. Now at the Parc de Princes, Carlo Ancelotti’s French side have home advantage in the game to win it all.
With eight different goal-scorers to ease the burden on talisman Zlatan Ibrahimović, aside from the blank with Porto, they have accumulated twelve goals, the joint-highest total in the competition. However, as good as their forward line-up is, Ancelotti’s men cannot find a consistent run of form which has seen them slip to fourth place in Ligue 1 with only one win in their last four games.
Chelsea And Tottenham Transfer Rumors: Is Jozy Altidore Adebayor’s Replacement or The New Didier Drogba?
United States international Jozy Altidore has recently been attracting attention worldwide since arriving at Netherlands side AZ Alkmaar. After an unsuccessful stint with Villarreal, Altidore seems to have finally found his place this season, bagging nine goals in his opening seven league games. And now a handful of Premier League clubs have declared their interest in the 23-year-old.
With his agent keeping a tight seal on information, the unnamed English clubs are rumoured to be Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur with interest from European giants Bayern Munich and Barcelona on the cards.
“I won’t say whether interest will increase during the winter break or at the end of the season,” speaks Alkmaar’s Director of Football Earnest Stewart. “Jozy is developing fantastically, is a real target-man for the team and translates that into goals.”
Just which Premier League club would the big target-man fit in?
“If you said to any young player that you could play for Barcelona or Real would they turn it down? Probably not. If a bid was accepted you would obviously have to seriously consider it.”
Every player has his price and this time, Gareth Bale has found it. After years of constant speculation, the Tottenham Hotspur winger finally looks to be on his way out. Since raising his profile in the Champions League games against Inter Milan in 2010, many high-profile clubs are in the hunt for the Welshman.
And it looks as if Real Madrid are right on top of the list.
Jose Mourinho has always claimed to be one of Bale’s biggest fans after labelling him ‘amazing’ in 2011 after Tottenham’s surprising debut in European’s greatest competition. The admiration for the winger’s speed and penetration in and around the opposite box has seen Mourinho target Bale ever since that year but now it seems extremely likely Spurs could lose yet another big name.