Who will take home the 2010 UEFA Champions League title? I don’t know. Honestly it is way to early to decide, but lets make some bold predictions about who will advance to the elite eight round of knockouts:
Stuttgart ￼v ￼Barcelona
A gambler lives by three rules of thumb: Never play poker with a guy who is named after a city, never date a woman with a tattoo of a knife piercing a heart, and never and I mean never bet against Barcelona.
Olympiacos ￼v ￼Bordeaux
To be honest the Olympiacos squad and style of play is Greek to me (sorry about that terrible pun) and the French squads seem to give many big clubs fits, so I will have to pick France’s Bordeaux over Greece in this battle of clubs from slightly smaller leagues.
Internazionale ￼v ￼Chelsea
Definitely considered the most critical opening fixture (sorry Man U and Milan) Jose Mourinho will be at the center of this rivalry being that he coached both squads to league titles. The man with the Midas touch is with Inter now, but I have to bet against him with Chelsea. Sorry Jose, but Chelsea does have arguably the best squad in the tournament (minus Barca of course).
One of the toughest match-ups to pick as two respectable, but not dominating squads face off. Bayern Munich may have the slight advantage if Luca Toni stays, but I think he will end up with Fiorentina of all squads and will score one against his old boys.
CSKA Moscow ￼v ￼Sevilla
Moscow is lucky to have gotten this far and even if they watch Rocky IV’s opening scene every morning they likely will be beaten down by a better Sevilla squad. Who knows maybe the underdog can pull off the unthinkable, but Fabiano resides in Spain not Russia, right?
Lyon ￼v ￼Real Madrid
Lyon has impressed this year, but I can’t bet against the shiny new machine that Real Madrid has recently built. Ronaldo is back to full health and Madrid should remain relevant for some time.
Porto ￼v ￼Arsenal
Arsenal does have a depleted roster, but against FC Porto it will not matter. By February Theo Walcott and Nic Bendtner should be getting back in the Gunners lineup plus Cesc Fabregas may be the best midfielder in the business not named Kaka.
Milan ￼v ￼Manchester United
The Beckham Bowl looks like it will be the most media worthy event of the first round fixtures and Milan has surprised many critics by playing great football as of late. Manchester United is still the team to beat though. Pato is great for Milan, but Man U has more of a balanced attack in my opinion and should handle the Italian giant despite an injury-plagued backline.