In this weeks Learners” Podcast we take a look at the groups in the Champions League and highlight some of the teams and their chances. There is also another English for Football phrase.
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Here’s an early season teaser for you. What do Romania’s CFR Cluj Napoca, Cypriot club Anorthosis Famagusta, Swiss team FC Basle, Denmark’s AAB Aalburg and BATE Borisov of Belarus all have in common? Well, along with 27 other sides they are all taking part in the group stages of the 2008-2009 Champions League. While good to see some new teams taking part, it will be an almighty shock if any of those mentioned get through to the knock-out stage never mind win the title.
Generally the top teams have few problems in progressing to the last 16 and this year it should be no different. Or will it?
Holders Manchester United face a tricky group as they have been drawn with Celtic from Scotland and Spanish side Villareal who reached the semi finals in 2006. Indeed, the last time these two sides were drawn together Manchester United were knocked out. How about last year’s runners-up Chelsea? Well, they will fancy their chances as they have Roma, Bordeaux and Romanian side Cluj Napoca. London rivals Arsenal will also hope to progress, though they will have to work hard away from home – at Fenerbahce, Porto and Dynamo Kiev. 2005 winners Liverpool play Marseilles, Dutch champions PSV and Fernando Torres’ former side Atletico Madrid who are back in the Champions League for the first time in more than a decade. Barcelona should have little difficulty in beating the likes of Shaktar Donetsk, FC Basle and Sporting Lisbon but their Spanish rivals Real Madrid are in the toughest group of them all as they have to play UEFA Cup winners Zenit St Petersburg and Italian powerhouse, Juventus. What of the other favoured teams? Well, it should be fairly straightforward for Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan as they play Greek team Panathinaikos, little Famagusta from Cyprus and Werder Bremen while Bayern Munich have a trickier task in Romania’s Steau Bucharest, Fiorentina and French Champions Lyon.
It is almost impossible to predict a winner at this stage but I can safely say it won’t be one of the five underdogs mentioned at the start of the report.