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A Complete Guide To The Final 16 Teams Of The Champions League

UCL-Draw

Manchester United and Arsenal, the only two remaining English sides, will be looking to avoid the big guns in the draw for the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League, which takes place in Nyon (Switzerland) on Thursday 10:30am GMT.

Manchester United qualified as Group H winners and so are seeded in the draw but they still could be drawn against the big sides, while Arsenal finished as runners-up and like United could face the top guns especially Barcelona (third time in the past four seasons) in the knockout stages. On the other hand, Chelsea became the first holders to be eliminated in the group stages, while Manchester City were completely knocked out of Europe as they ended bottom of their group.

Group Winners: Paris Saint-Germain, Schalke, Malaga, Borussia Dortmund, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Manchester United
Group Runners-Up: Porto, Arsenal, AC Milan, Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk, Valencia, Celtic, Galatasaray

Below we have a look at each of the above 16 teams in detail..

PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN

Country: France
Coach:
Carlo Ancelotti
Key Player: Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Other Star Players: Thiago Silva, Ezequiel Lavezzi & Javier Pastore
Rising Star: Marco Verratti
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Semi-final 1995
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Arsenal, AC Milan, Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk, Valencia, Celtic, Galatasaray
Chances: PSG are one of the richest clubs in the world and have ambitions to win the Champions League this term. If striker Ibrahimovic can continue his superb form from the group stages, it might just happen.
Prediction: Quarter-Finals

SCHALKE 04

Country: Germany
Coach:
 Jens Keller
Key Player: Klaas-Jan Huntelaar
Other Star Players: Benedikt Howedes, Lewis Holtby & Kyriakos Papadopoulos
Rising Star: Julian Draxler
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Semi-final 2011
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Porto, AC Milan, Shakhtar Donetsk, Galatasary, Valencia, Celtic, Real Madrid
Chances: The Germans were unbeaten through their group which consisted the likes of Arsenal, Olympiakos and Montpellier, which shows they are not a team to be taken for granted. One their day they could upset the big guns.
Prediction: Round of 16

MALAGA

Country: Spain
Coach:
 Manuel Pellengrini
Key Player: Isco
Other Star Players: Joaquin, Martin Demichelis & Eliseu
Rising Star: Francisco Portillo
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Debutants
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Arsenal, Shakhtar Donetsk, Celtic, Galatasaray
Chances: Have been very impressive so far in their debut season in the Champions League, but their inexperience in the competition may prove costly in the knockout stages.
Prediction: Round of 16

BORUSSIA DORTMUND

Country: Germany
Coach:
 Jurgen Klopp
Key Player: Marco Reus
Other Star Players: Roberto Lewandowski, Mats Hummels & Mario Gotze
Rising Star: Moritz Leitner
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1997
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Porto, Arsenal, AC Milan, Shakhtar Donetsk, Valencia, Celtic,Galatasaray
Chances: The reigning Bundesliga champions have very much caught the eye in the group stages after finishing at top of the Group of Death and are the team to beat. Considered as the dark horses for the title.
Prediction: Quarter-Finals

JUVENTUS

Country: Italy
Coach:
 Antonio Conte
Key Player: Arturo Vidal
Other Star Players: Andrea Pirlo, Gianluigi Buffon & Giorgio Chiellini
Rising Star: Paul Pogba
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1985, 1996
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Porto, Real Madrid, Arsenal, Valencia, Celtic, Galatasaray
Chances: The reigning Serie A champions remained unbeaten in the group stages and topped their group by winning on the final matchday. The Italians are expected to step it up when the competition resumes in February.
Prediction: Quarter-Finals

BAYERN MUNICH

Country: Germany
Coach:
 Jupp Heynckes
Key Player: Franck Ribery
Other Star Players: Arjen Robben, Bastian Schweinsteiger & Philipp Lahm
Rising Star: David Alaba
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1974, 1975, 1976, 2001
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Porto, Arsenal, AC Milan, Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk, Celtic,Galatasaray
Chances: The current Bundesliga leaders ended as the beaten finalists last season and will be looking to make amends for it. They have been in fine form so far and are one of the favourites to lift the trophy in May.
Prediction: Semi-Finals

BARCELONA

Country: Spain
Coach:
 Tito Vilanova
Key Player: Lionel Messi
Other Star Players: Andres Iniesta, Xavi & Sergio Busquets
Rising Star: Christian Tello
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1992, 2006, 2009, 2011
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Porto, Shakhtar Donetsk, Arsenal, Galatasaray, AC Milan
Chances: The Catalans were the pre-tournament favourites to win the competition and there has been very little so far to suggest that they won’t win it this term. Vilanova has done brilliantly since taking over from Pep Guardiola in the summer.
Prediction: Winners

MANCHESTER UNITED

Country: England
Coach:
 Sir Alex Ferguson
Key Player: Wayne Rooney
Other Star Players: Robin van Persie, Nemanja Vidic & Antonio Valencia
Rising Star: Rafael
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1968, 1999, 2008
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Porto, AC Milan, Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk, Valencia, Celtic
Chances: Unlike last season, United have marched pretty easily into the knockout stages and with Van Persie & Rooney both in form they are a team to fear. Surely one of the contenders for the title.
Prediction: Semi-Finals

PORTO

Country: Portugal
Coach:
 Vitor Pereira
Key Player: Jackson Martinez
Other Star Players: Joao Moutinho, Lucho Gonzalez & Nicolas Otamendi
Rising Star: James Rodriguez
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winner 1987, 2004
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Schalke, Malaga, Dortmund, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Manchester United
Chances: The Portuguese champions have gone all the way before but its very unlikely it will happen again this season. They have a very good squad with some very talented players but its highly unlikely they will trouble the big teams.
Prediction: Round of 16

ARSENAL

Country: England
Coach:
 Arsene Wenger
Key Player: Santi Cazrola
Other Star Players: Jack Wilshere, Thomas Vermaelen & Lukas Podolski
Rising Star: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Runner-up 2006
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: PSG, Malaga, Dortmund, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Barcelona
Chances: The Gunners have had a stuttering season both domestically and in Europe – especially at home. They will need to improve a lot in the second half of the season if they want to be genuine title contenders.
Prediction: Quarter-Finals

AC MILAN

Country: Italy
Coach:
 Massimiliano Allegri
Key Player: Stephan El Shaarawy
Other Star Players: Philippe Mexes, Ricardo Montolivo & Kevin-Prince Boateng
Rising Star: Mattia De Sciglio
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1963, 1969, 1989, 1990, 1994, 2003, 2007
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: PSG, Schalke, Dortmund, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Manchester United
Chances: Like Arsenal, the Rossoneri are struggling this term domestically and in Europe. They are not the force of the old, although their pedigree and experience in this competition means they should not be taken lightly.
Prediction: Round of 16

REAL MADRID

Country: Spain
Coach:
 Jose Mourinho
Key Player: Cristiano Ronaldo
Other Star Players: Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos & Mesut Ozil
Rising Star: Raphael Varane
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1966, 1998, 2000, 2002
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: PSG, Schalke, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Manchester United
Chances: Its been over a decade since Real Madrid last won the Champions League and the boss Mourinho has never appeared more determined to win the tournament for the club this season. With the team they have they are regarded as the joint favourites alongside Barca.
Prediction: Runners-Up

SHAKHTAR DONETSK

Country: Ukraine
Coach:
 Mircea Lucescu
Key Player: Luiz Adriano
Other Star Players: Darijo Srna, Willian & Fernandinho
Rising Star: Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Quarter-final 2011
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: PSG, Schalke, Malaga, Dortmund, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Manchester United
Chances: Like Dortmund, Shakhtar are another side that have grabbed the attention of many in the group stages. They are the ones who dumped Chelsea out of the tournament and a side very few people would want to face in the knockout stages.
Prediction: Round of 16

VALENCIA

Country: Spain
Coach:
 Ernesto Valverde
Key Player: Roberto Soldado
Other Star Players: Jonas, Sofiane Feghouli & Adil Rami
Rising Star: Daniel Parejo
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Runner-up 2000, 2001
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: PSG, Schalke, Dortmund, Juventus, Manchester United
Chances: The Spaniards have been very impressive in the group stages with their star striker at the top of his game but do not appear equipped for a really extended run in competition this season.
Prediction: Round of 16

CELTIC

Country: Scotland
Coach:
 Neil Lennon
Key Player: Giorgos Samaras
Other Star Players: Fraser Forster, Victor Wanyama & Gary Hooper
Rising Star: Anthony Watt
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1967
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: PSG, Schalke, Málaga, Dortmund, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Manchester United
Chances: Had little hopes of making it through to the knockout stages after being grouped with Barcelona, Benfica and Spartak Moscow but they did it. Anything else from now will be a bonus for the Scottish champions.
Prediction: Round of 16

GALATASARAY

Country: Turkey
Coach:
 Fatih Terim
Key Player: Burak Yilmaz
Other Star Players: Felipe Melo, Nordin Amrabat & Hamit Altintop
Rising Star: Semih Kaya
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Semi-finals 1989
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: PSG, Schalke, Málaga, Dortmund, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Barcelona
Chances: Snatched the second spot from CFR Cluj on the final matchday. Like Celtic, anything else they achieve from now on will be a bonus for the Turkish side and very few teams will fancy making the trip to the intimidating Turk Telekom Arena in Istanbul.
Prediction: Round of 16

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Five ‘Big Name’ Premier League Signings That Never Happened

The transfer window is finally over, and Premier League managers and chairmen can rest easy and concentrate on the matters on the pitch, for another few months at least.

Now that the dust has settled, we can take a look at the five ‘big name’ transfer deals in the Premier League which were very close to happening but never happened in end.

1. Hulk (Porto) to Chelsea
The Brazilian was continuously linked with a move to Stamford Bridge throughout June and July and at one stage it looked like it was almost a done deal. Hulk even admitted he wanted to leave Porto and join the European Champions, but the Portuguese champions insisted they had never recieved an offer from the Blues. In the end, Chelsea gave up the chase because of his hefty price tag and wage demands and instead signed Wigan’s Victor Moses. The powerful left-footed forward joined Russian champions Zenit St Petersburg this week, for a fee of around £40m.

2. Joao Moutinho (Porto) to Tottenham Hotspur
The Portuguese playmaker was the man Andre Villas-Boas wanted to replace Luka Modric at White Hart Lane. But Spurs had to first sell the Croatian to free up funds to buy new players and Modric’s transfer to Real Madrid took weeks to be agreed and completed, which left the London club with just few days to wrap up the Moutinho deal. On deadline day, Spurs did agree a club record £20m fee with Porto but problems surrounding personal terms and third party ownership issues scuppered the deal.

3. Lucas Moura (Sao Paulo) to Manchester United
The Brazilian wonderkid was Manchester United’s top transfer target this summer after the Red Devils failed in their pursuit of Eden Hazard. After seeing a £23m bid rejected by Sao Paulo, United came back with an improved offer and also reportedly had a bid in the region of £30m accepted by the Brazilian club. But the mega-rich PSG came in at the last minute, paid £35m for the youngster and snatched him away from under the noses of Sir Alex Ferguson

4. Yann M’Vila (Rennes) to Arsenal
The French midfielder was reportedly very close to joining Arsenal before the Euros in Poland & Ukraine but a training ground bust-up with his France teammates made Arsene Wenger to reconsider. The sale of Alex Song to Barcelona saw the rumours start again, but Arsenal’s north London rivals Tottenham had also entered the fray and in the end, Wenger decided against a late move for the Rennes midfielder and stuck with his players.

5. Clint Dempsey (Fulham) to Liverpool
Liverpool’s American owners were so confident of signing the Fulham forward that they announced on their official website the US international had signed for the club in July. A month later, the Reds did look favourites to complete the deal on transfer deadling day, with the 29-year-old desperate to leave Craven Cottage and join the Merseysiders. But with Liverpool refusing to pay anything more than £4m for the forward, Dempsey joined Tottenham late in the day for £6m, leaving Brendan Rodgers with just two senior strikers at his disposal.

Tottenham Hotspur’s Potential Summer 2012 Transfer Targets

Tottenham Hotspur had a very indifferent season last term. They started the season in fine form and around December they looked like serious title contenders but since January their form dipped and they ended the season in 4th place.

This summer, there have been changes at White Hart Lane with Harry Redknapp being sacked for failing to secure a place in the Champions League and replaced by the former Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas. Spurs have already completed the signings of the impressive midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson, the young Zeki Fryers and the strong defender Jan Vertonghen, but the former Porto boss expected to add some more new names to his squad with the goalkeeper, midfield and striker positions needing strengthening. Here are Tottenham’s potential transfer targets for the summer..

HUGO LLORIS – LYON (GOALKEEPER)

Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has revealed that the club are ready to listen to offers for the France skipper Hugo Lloris, who is valued around €20m. With Brad Friedel in his early 40s, Lloris would be a great signing for Spurs and would be a great long-term option. If reports are to be believed, Tottenham have already made a bid for the French stopper but they are expected to face some tough competition from a host of European clubs like Arsenal, Liverpool and AC Milan.

KASPER SCHMEICHEL – LEICESTER CITY (GOALKEEPER)

Spurs have had a close eye on the Denmark international since the end of last season. Peter Schmeichel, the son of the great Manchester United legend Peter, has had good season with Leicester City in the nPower Championship. With Friedel in his 40s, Cudicini not way behind him at 38 years and Gomes expected to leave, Spurs will surely do with a young reserve keeper in their squad. The 26-year-old has attracted interest from many English clubs but a move to White Hart Lane may be too hard to resist.

OSCAR – INTERNACIONAL (MIDFIELDER)

The young Internacional playmaker is said to be high on Tottenham shopping list this summer as they search for a replacement for Luka Modric, who is reportedly on his way to Real Madrid. Oscar has been very impressive for Brazilian giants and is also a regular part of Brazil national team. The 20-year-old, who is rated around £25m, has attracted interest from many top European clubs including Chelsea. According to the reports, Spurs and Chelsea have both launched a bid for the Brazilian and the Blues are said to be favourites to sign him.

JOAO MOUTINHO – FC PORTO (MIDFIELDER)

Moutinho has attracted a lot of interest from the Premier League this summer after some putting in some impressive displays for Portugal at the Euros. The £25m rated midfielder has been linked with a move to White Hart Lane since arrival of Villas-Boas as both of them worked together at Porto. With Modric expected to leave for Real Madrid, Moutinho is a perfect replacement for the Croatian but Spurs will have to battle with the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea to bring the Portuguese to White Hart Lane.

ALAN DZAGOEV – CSKA MOSCOW (MIDFIELDER)

The 22-year-old had an outstanding UEFA EURO 2012 in Poland/Ukraine and was the join top goalscorer with three goals. The Russian international, who can play anywhere behind the striker, is valued at £13m by CSKA but with just six-months left on his contract,  the Russians may be forced to accept a lower asking price or lose him for nothing. With Modric destined to leave this summer, Dzagoev could be cheaper option to replace the Croatian.

MILOS KRASIC – JUVENTUS (MIDFIELDER)

The Serbian winger, who caught everyone’s attention with his performances for CSKA Moscow in the Champions League couple of season, is not needed anymore at Juventus. Krasic was subjected to a lot of interest in January but a move away from Turin never materialized. Spurs are reportedly to be still interested in the 28-year-old, who has also interested the likes of Liverpool and Chelsea as they look to solve their wide problems. Rated at around £10m, Krasic would be a real bargain  in comparison to other players of similar ability.

DANIEL STURRIDGE – CHELSEA (STRIKER)

The Chelsea striker is said to be unhappy at the lack of first team opportunities at Chelsea since the departure of Andre Villas-Boas. With Emmanuel Adebayor with his parent club Manchester City and Louis Saha released, Villas-Boas has just one striker in his senior squad in the form of Jermain Defoe. With Defoe out of favour and past his peak, the former Chelsea boss might try to sign the 22-year-old pacey forward – who can also play on the wings – but will face some tough competition for his signature from Arsenal and Liverpool, who have also expressed their interest in him.

LEANDRO DAMIAO – INTERNACIONAL (STRIKER)

Oscar is not the only Internacional player linked with Tottenham this summer, star striker Leandro Damiao is said to be also one of Spurs’ top transfer target. With the arrival of Diego Forlan at the club and Internacional needing to cut down their high wage bill, Damiao is expected to leave Brazil for Europe sooner than later. With Spurs needing to buy some new strikers this summer, the 22-year-old would be a great addition to squad but they will need to act fast and agree a deal before the Olympics, as his price may sour up if he has a good tournament in London.

DEMBA BA – NEWCASTLE UNITED (STRIKER)

With Tottenham in need of some serious striking reinforcements, the Newcastle United forward – Demba Ba is another name linked to Tottenham this summer. The Senegal international had a fantastic start to last season and went on to score 16 goals in 36 matches in total. With the 27-year-old available for just £7m till the end of July, due to a clause in his contract, Spurs are expected to face some stiff competition from a host of Premier League clubs including the likes of Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United.

GIUSEPPE ROSSI – VILLARREAL (STRIKER)

The former Manchester United forward is a player who has been on Tottenham wish-list for many years now. With Adebayor back with Manchester City and too expensive to buy on a permanent deal, Rossi could be a good solution to the problem up front. The Italian has been in good goal scoring form since joining Villarreal in 2008 and could be available for as less as £15m since the Spanish club are relegated and are struggling with debts.

LOIC REMY – MARSEILLE (STRIKER)

Remy was one of the top transfer targets of Tottenham when Harry Redknapp was in charge of the club. The France international has expressed his desire to play for the White Hart Lane club despite the lack of Champions League football. The 26-year-old who is rated around £20m and has scored 14 goals for Marseille this past season, would be a very good addition to squad but it look like the new boss – Andre Villas-Boas doesn’t seem interested in him.

EMMANUEL ADEBAYOR – MANCHESTER CITY (STRIKER)

Adebayor spent the last season on loan at White Hart Lane, where he scored 17 goals in 33 Premier League matches. City are looking to reduce their wage bill because of the new Financial Fair Play Rules and the Togo international is most likely to be sold. According to the papers in UK, Spurs are very close to signing the former Arsenal forward on a permanent basis and the fee is reported to be in the region of £6m. If the reports are true then Adebayor will be a great signing for the club, keeping in mind his success last season.

Manchester United’s Potential Summer 2012 Transfer Targets

Manchester United had a decent last season as they finished second – just on goal difference – behind city rivals, Manchester City in the league but were very disappointing in both European – both the Champions League and Europa League – and the domestic cup competitions. 

This summer, United will look to strengthen their squad as they look to win back the Premier League title from their noisy neigbhours and also try and win the Champions League for the first time since the 2008. Sir Alex Ferguson has already strengthen his squad this summer by signing the Japanese international Shinji Kagawa and the highly-rated youngster Nick Powell, but the Red Devils will have to bring in some more new names if they want to challenge for trophies on all fronts. Here are Manchester United’s potential transfer targets the summer..

LEIGHTON BAINES – EVERTON (DEFENDER)

The Everton left-back has been linked with a move to Old Trafford for some time now and its highly likely that the England international will be a United player before the start of the season. Patrice Evra’s form dipped last term and the Frenchman is not getting any young. With Fabio away on loan at QPR, United need a new left-back and the 27-year-old would be a great choice. Baines, who is very good at set-pieces, is valued around £15m and would be a quality replacement for Evra.

MATS HUMMELS – BORUSSIA DORTMUND (DEFENDER)

The German defender had an outstanding Euros in Poland/Ukraine this summer and was one of the best performers for his country. The former Bayern Munich youth player has been one of the reasons for Dortmund’s success in the past couple of years as they did the League and Cup double last year. The Turkish origin defender, who is rated around £30m, has stated he is very happy to stay at Dortmund having sign new contract recently, but he would be a great signing for the Red Devils and with Rio Ferdinand past his best, he would be a great replacement for the veteran.

ALEX WITSEL – BENFICA (MIDFIELDER)

Portuguese giants Benfica are ready to cash in on the Belgium international, just a year after they signed him from Standard Liege. The 23-year-old was instrumental in helping the Portuguese side make the quarter-finals of the Champions League last season. Manchester United are interested in signing the £20m rated midfielder as they look to add more depth and quality in their midfield. Chelsea are also interested in him and a chance to play alongside his Belgium teammates – Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku – might just incline him towards Stamford Bridge.

LUKA MODRIC – TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (MIDFIELDER)

Luka Modric is one name that has been on the Manchester United radar for some time now. With the playmaker ready to leave White Hart Lane this summer in search of regular Champions League football, Sir Alex Ferguson is ready to bring the £36m rated Croatian international to Old Trafford. But according to the reports in various papers in Spain, Modric has already agreed a deal with the La Liga champions Real Madrid and is expected to sign for Jose Mourinho’s side before July 15.

JOAO MOUTINHO – FC PORTO (MIDFIELDER)

Moutinho has attracted a lot of interest from the Premier League this summer after some putting in some impressive displays for Portugal at the Euros. The £25m rated midfielder has been a United target since his Sporting Lisbon days and is seen as an alternative for Luka Modric. Some reports claim that the Red Devils have already launched a bid for the Portuguese international, but they will have to battle with the likes of Chelsea and Tottenham – who are also interested in him – to bring him to Old Trafford.

KEVIN STROOTMAN – PSV EINDHOVEN (MIDFIELDER)

Sir Alex Ferguson is said to be interested in the the Dutch midfielder who has been dubbed as the ‘new Roy Keane’ because of his combative style of football. With the future of Darren Fletcher uncertain and with number of injury prone players in the squad, Strootman could be the answer to all of Ferguson’s problems. The PSV star has attracted a lot of interest because of his impressive performances over last couple of years and was also a part of the Dutch squad in Poland/Ukraine. The £15m rated Dutchman, who can also play as a holding midfielder, would no doubt strengthen the United midfield.

JAMES RODRIGUEZ – FC PORTO (MIDFIELDER)

The young Colombian is another player linked with a move to Old Trafford many times in the last couple of months. The 21-year-old had an impressive last season in the Portuguese league with FC Porto and has attracted interested from a host of Premier League clubs. With the future of Nani doubtful, Rodriguez could be a great addition to squad but it looks highly unlike that United and Sir Alex Ferguson would be ready to pay around £30m for the midfielder who has been dubbed the ‘new Cristiano Ronaldo’.

LUCAS MOURA – SAO PAULO (MIDFIELDER)

Lucas Moura is one of the most talented youngsters and the most hottest property in world football. The 19-year-old Brazilian has attracted interested from almost every top club in Europe and Manchester United are said to be one of them. According to the latest gossip columns, United have sent a delegation to Brazil to convince the £35m rated Brazil international – who has already been capped 13 times by his country – and his family about a move to Old Trafford, where he will join his fellow compatriots – Anderson, Rafael and Fabio.

MOUSSA DEMBELE – FULHAM (MIDFIELDER)

Dembele has had a successful time, so far, at Craven Cottage since joining Fulham in 2010. The forward who scored 24 times for AZ Alkmaar, has adapted very well to a midfield role in the Fulham team and was very impressive in the previous season. Dembele has just a year left on his contract and is in no hurry to extend it because of interest from several big Premier League sides like United and Chelsea. Some papers reported that the Reds Devils had an offer for the Belgium international rejected by Fulham over the weekend.

IKER MUNIAIN – ATHLETIC BILBAO (STRIKER)

Iker Muniain is another teenager who is on the Manchester United shopping list. The 19-year-old Spaniard caught Ferguson’s eye after he played an important role in knocking the Red Devils out of the Europa League last season. The versatile striker, who can play upfront or on the wings or just behind the striker in the midfield, scored the winner in the first leg and impressed in the second leg in Spain. The Bilbao forward, who made his international debut this year, is rated around £25m and would no doubt be great signing for the team.

ROBIN VAN PERSIE – ARSENAL (STRIKER)

Along with Juventus and Manchester City, United are also interested in signing the Arsenal skipper – Robin van Persie, who has said that he won’t be signing a new deal at the Emirates Stadium. Van Persie was in some outstanding goal scoring form last season and ended the league season as the Premier League’s top goal scorer with 30 goals. With Michael Owen having already left and Dimitar Berbatov expected to leave, there is place for another striker in the squad and Van Persie will be an outstanding option. The Rooney-Van Persie combination up front will be just too deadly to deal with for any team. With just one year left on the 28-year-old’s contract, the Gunners are expected to cash in on the forward this summer and an offer around £16m-£20m may well be enough.

ROBERT LEWANDOWSKI – BORUSSIA DORTMUND (STRIKER)

The Poland international, who scored the opening goal of the UEFA EURO 2012, is another Dortmund player to be linked with a move to United this summer. Lewandowski has had an incredible past 12 months and has scored 30 goals including a hat-trick in the 5-2 win over Bayern Munich in the German Cup final. The striker has just two years left on his contract and has attracted interest from many Premier League clubs including Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea.

Chelsea’s Potential Summer 2012 Transfer Targets

Chelsea ended the last season on a high by winning both the FA Cup and the Champions League but were very poor in the league and finished sixth in the Premier League table.

This summer, the Blues have already strengthen their squad by adding the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Marko Marin and the highly-rated Eden Hazard to their ranks, but at the same time, they have lost a few first team players in Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou and Jose Bosingwa. Roberto Di Matteo – who guided them to FA Cup and Champions League success last season after the sacking of Andre Villas-Boas in March – was appointed the new permanent manager of the club at the end of last month and he will surely look to bring in some more new names before their Community Shield clash against champions Manchester City on August 12. Here are Chelsea’s potential summer transfer targets..

MAICON – INTER MILAN (DEFENDER)

With Jose Bosingwa having left Chelsea this summer, the Blues need a right-back and Maicon is one of the options. The Inter Milan right-back is not the same player he once was but is surely better than Bosingwa. According to the reports, Chelsea are the favourites ahead of Real Madrid to sign the Brazilian for around £6m. The 30-year-old would be a good addition to the squad but surely won’t be a long term option.

GREGORY VAN DER WIEL – AJAX (DEFENDER)

At the end of last season, it looked like Van der Wiel would be playing for the European Champions next season. However, after a disappointing UEFA EURO 2012 campaign with the Netherlands in Poland/Ukraine and no further talks between the two clubs, his potential move to Stamford Bridge looks uncertain. The Dutch international right-back is already back in training with Ajax and with the Blues trying to sign Maicon, the 24-year-old looks like staying in Amsterdam for atleast another season.

LUKE SHAW – SOUTHAMPTON (DEFENDER)

Papers in UK suggest that the Blues are poised to make £4m offer for the Southampton youth graduate left back. Chelsea have identified Shaw, who turned 17 this month, as a possible backup for Ashley Cole and Ryan Bertrand. Shaw, who has been described as “technically very gifted” by Sir Trevor Brooking,  has made just one first team appearance and that to as a substitute against Millwall in the FA Cup fourth round replay last season but has been a regular part of the England U-16 and U-17 sides.

MAROUANE FELLAINI – EVERTON (MIDFIELDER)

Fellaini, who signed a new long term deal in November, has stated this past week that he is very happy to stay at Goodison Park but will consider a move this summer if an offer comes from an ambitious club. Chelsea, Manchester United and Real Madrid have all shown interest in the Belgium international who is rated around £20m by the Merseyside club. With doubts over Lampard’s future at the club, Fellaini would be a very good addition to Chelsea squad and will add the required physical presence in the midfield.

ALEX WITSEL – BENFICA (MIDFIELDER)

Portuguese giants Benfica are ready to cash in on the Belgium international, just a year after they signed him from Standard Liege. The 23-year-old was instrumental in helping the Portuguese side make the quarter-finals of the Champions League last season. Chelsea are interested in signing the £20m rated midfielder as they look to add more depth in their midfield. Manchester United are also interested in him, but a chance to reunite with his Belgium teammates – De Bruyne, Hazard and Romelu Lukaku – might incline him to Stamford Bridge.

LUKA MODRIC – TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (MIDFIELDER)

Chelsea were highly interested in the 26-year-old last season and had also made three offers for him but all were rejected. With the playmaker ready to leave White Hart Lane this summer in search of regular Champions League football, papers suggests Roman Abramovich will offer Tottenham £36m for his services but will face some stiff competition from the likes Real Madrid and Manchester United, who are also interested in the Croatian international.

JOAO MOUTINHO – FC PORTO (MIDFIELDER)

Moutinho has attracted a lot of interest from the Premier League this summer after some putting in some impressive displays for Portugal at the Euros. The £25m rated midfielder has been a Chelsea target since the start of last season and is seen as an alternative for Luka Modric. But the Blues will have to battle with the likes of Manchester United – who have made him their number one target this season – and Tottenham Hotspur – who are managed by the former Porto boss Andre Villas-Boas – to bring him to Stamford Bridge.

VICTOR MOSES – WIGAN ATHLETIC (STRIKER)

Having helped Wigan Athletic survive relegation and stay in the Premier League last season, the Nigerian is ready to move to an ambitious club this summer and the Blues are interested in signing him. Reports suggests that Chelsea have made their move and are expected to complete the signing of the 21-year-old by the end of the week for a fee around £10m. The former Crystal Palace winger has proved he is good enough to play in the Premier League, but is he good enough to play for a club like Chelsea? Only time will tell.

HULK – FC PORTO (STRIKER)

Hulk has been a Chelsea transfer target for many years now but no deal has ever been struck between the two clubs. According to the reports, the Blues are close to signing £35m rated striker but they have been close since end of last season. With Tottenham appointing former Porto boss Andre Villas-Boas as their new manager, the Blues will now have to act quicker and sign the Brazil international or face losing him from under their noses to Tottenham.

THEO WALCOTT – ARSENAL (STRIKER)

With Robin van Persie snubbing Arsenal, Chelsea are set to test Arsenal’s ambitions and resolve by making an offer for Theo Walcott. The 23-year-old England international has just one year left on his current deal and has not yet signed a new contract. The former Southampton forward has improved over the past couple of season and is a regular part of the national team setup. Along with Chelsea, Ligue 1 side Paris Saint-Germain are also interested in him but the Blues remain the favourites.

STEVAN JOVETIC – FIORENTINA (STRIKER)

With Fernando Torres’ form a question mark and Chelsea having no experience options up front, Stevan Jovetic will be a great addition to Roberto Di Matteo’s team. According to reports in ItalyChelsea have had a £20m offer rejected by Fiorentina. However the Blues can get him for around £25m. The 22-year-old Montenegro international will be great asset to the club and will provide more options up front, but the Blues face competition for his signature from Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Juventus and AC Milan.

SOLOMON RONDON – MALAGA (STRIKER)

Rondon is not very known outside Spain, but the Venezuelan striker is very highly-rated and was Malaga’s top goalscorer this season. According to the papers in Spain, Chelsea are interested in bringing him to Stamford Bridge as backup for Fernando Torres but will face some tough competition from their London rivals Arsenal, who are reported to be preparing a £10m offer for him.

Portugal v Spain Preview

Defending champions Spain battle with their Iberian neighbours Portugal for a spot in the UEFA EURO 2012 final when they meet in the semi-finals at the Donbass Arena in Donetsk tonight.

Both teams enter the last-four clash on the back of three consecutive wins at the tournament, with Sunday’s final clearly in sight. Vicente del Bosque’s Spain produced an effective quarter-final victory against France, while their neighbours downed Czech Republic to advance.

Paulo Bento believes patience is key if his Portugal side are going to find a way past the holders and world champions in Donetsk. “Of course there are going to be moments in the game when we can link up and go forward,” he said in Tuesday’s pre-game press conference. We want possession of the ball but we are playing against a team that has played better than all the other teams. It’s going to be about patience. We know what we have to do. We have to put pressure on our opponents in the right areas of the pitch. Our aim is not to defend all the time. You can’t do that against the world and European champions. We are aware that it’s going to be difficult but they also know that we can cause them problems. It was very easy to get motivated because we’re in the semi-finals. There can’t be a more beautiful opportunity than the one we have tomorrow.”

“We’ll intend to throw him (Cristiano Ronaldo) off his game, the best example of that is the second round win at the World Cup, where we managed the better result,” said Vicente Del Bosque of a 1-0 win over Portugal in Johannesburg. “The idea will be the same.” Spain has won its last six knockout round games at major tournaments by a combined score of 7-0. Although the team is not providing eye-catching scorelines, it has shown patience and maturity to break down opponents who nearly always ‘park the bus’, or take a completely defensive approach. “I would prefer if they play back in their own half, it’s a satisfaction for us to keep possession,” Del Bosque said of the Portuguese. “They have enough players that can provide alternatives to their attack, but I would like it if they played in a defensive way because we have solutions to combat that.”

TEAM NEWS

Portugal

Real Zaragoza frontman Postiga has been ruled out with a thigh injury, meaning coach Bento will be unable to field the same starting line-up which he has used in the last six competitive matches. Besiktas forward Hugo Almeida is expected to get the nod in Donetsk, with 20-year-old Nelson Oliveira, who has come on as a substitute three times in the tournament, likely to be on the bench again. Almeida will be flanked in the Portuguese attack by Cristiano Ronaldo, whose glittering displays against the Netherlands and the Czechs played a decisive part in sending Portugal into the last four.

Spain

Del Bosque reported no new injury problems following the quarter-final victory against Les Bleus. However, he must decide whether to start the game again without a recognised striker and allow Cesc Fabregas to fill the role. If Del Bosque decides against the quarter-final line-up, Fernando Torres could lead the line, while Pedro could also get a start in the Spain midfield.

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Played – 34
Portugal Wins – 6
Draws – 12
Spain Wins – 16

FORM GUIDE

Portugal – WWWLL
21-Jun-12 – Euro 2012 – Czech Republic 0-1 Portugal
17-Jun-12 – Euro 2012 – Portugal 2-1 Netherlands
13-Jun-12 – Euro 2012 – Denmark 2-3 Portugal
09-Jun-12 – Euro 2012 – Germany 1-0 Portugal
02-Jun-12 – Friendly – Portugal 1-3 Turkey

Spain – WWWDW
23-Jun-12 – Euro 2012 – Spain 2-0 France
18-Jun-12 – Euro 2012 – Croatia 0-1 Spain
14-Jun-12 – Euro 2012 – Spain 4-0 Ireland
10-Jun-12 – Euro 2012 – Spain 1-1 Italy
03-Jun-12 – Friendly – Spain 1-0 China

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Pepe (Portugal)
The Real Madrid defender has been as solid as a rock in the heart of the Portuguese defence. The hard tacking defender has had an excellent tournament so far, and has been one of the reason why Portugal are in the semi-finals. He was solid against the Czechs on Thursday. Another performance like that against the Spaniards today and Portugal could be through to the finals.

Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
He would undoubtedly be the key man for his side, as he is the only player who looks capable of breaching the solid Spanish defence and getting past his Real Madrid teammate Iker Casillas. He has been in tremendous form in the last two matches, scoring three goals and hitting the post four times and is sure to be the biggest test yet for his opposing Captain Casillas.

Iker Casillas (Spain)
The Spanish captain hasn’t been troubled a lot so far in this tournament and this will be arguably his toughest test in Poland/Ukraine.  He has been in good form throughout the year for both Real Madrid and Spain and today he will face his club teammate Cristiano Ronaldo. If Casillas is able to keep Ronaldo quite and not let him score any goals today then La Roja have a huge chance of progressing to final.

Andres Iniesta (Spain)
The Barcelona star has undoubtedly been one of the best players in attack for Spain and has hardly let anyone feel David Villa’s absence. Although kept quiet for most of the last game, he did deliver the beautifully weighted pass that let in Jordi Alba to cross for the first goal. He would be raring to go and make an impact against arch-rivals Portugal today and help his team progress to the final.

PROBABLE LINEUPS

Portugal (4-3-3): Rui Patricio; Joao Perreira, Pepe, Bruno Alves, Fabio Coentrao; Miguel Veloso, Raul Meireles, Joao Moutinho; Nani, Hugo Almeida, Cristiano Ronaldo (C).

The Portuguese would match Spain’s 4-3-3 formation. However, with Helder Postiga set to miss the clash due to the injury sustained in the quarter-finals, Hugo Almeida is expected to start as the centre man in the front three. He would be the target man and long balls would be hit straight at him, which he would be expected to hold up and then bring the dangerous wingers Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani into play. The rest of the team would be the same which has taken field in all four matches.

Spain (4-3-3): Iker Casillas (C); Alvaro Arbeloa, Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba; Sergi Busquets, Xavi, Xabi Alonso; David Silva, Cesc Fabregas, Andres Iniesta.

The defending champions are expected to line-up in the same 4-3-3 formation that started against the French and completely dominated the game. Fabregas was not too impressive, but would still be expected to start ahead of Fernando Torres as he fits better in the team whose emphasis is on passing football and keeping possession. Plus he has better understanding with the other Barcelona players in the squad. Del Bosque would keep the same team players that have delivered the results.

MATCH ODDS

Portugal 10/3 Draw 23/10 Spain 10/11

PREDICTION

The rivalry will be there for everyone to see and it is set to be a tough battle. Portugal have played to their potential in the UEFA EURO 2012 and arguably the same cannot be said for Spain. Spain will play as expected and dominate the possession, while the Portuguese will b looking to catch them on the counter with their pacey wingers. It’s very hard to see Spain losing today as they have the experience and the extra bid of quality in their midfield which could be the difference between the two sides in Donetsk.

Predicted Score – Portugal 1-2 Spain

Czech Republic v Portugal Preview

The group stages are done and dusted and the UEFA EURO 2012 quarter-finals get under way today when the Czech Republic take on Portugal at the National Stadium in Warsaw.

Both teams arrive at knockout stage having bounced back from opening defeats in their respective groups to win their other two games. Portugal were beaten 1-0 by Germany in their first outing but stormed back with victories over Denmark and Holland to finish second in Group B. The Czechs reached the last eight as Group A winners, rebounding from an opening 4-1 defeat to Russia to beat Greece and co-hosts Poland.

The clash is a repeat of the Euro 1996 quarter-final, when the Czech Republic stunned the Portuguese with a 1-0 win thanks to Karel Poborsky’s memorable scoop goal. Their only other meeting since the split of Czechoslovakia 19 years ago came at the 2008 tournament, when Portugal gained revenge with a 3-1 victory in the group stage.

TEAM NEWS

Czech Republic

The Czechs have been dealt a blow with the news Tomas Rosicky will not feature in the starting line-up after struggling to make a full recovery from an Achilles injury. The Arsenal midfielder, who flew back to Prague earlier this week to receive treatment, left his decision until after training on Thursday morning because he wanted to see how the injury would react. Team manager Vladimir Smicer told Czech Television: “Tomas will certainly not play from the first minute. But if we should be in trouble towards the end of the match we might use him.”

Portugal

On the other hand, Portuguese manager Paulo Bento has no injury worries and is expected to field Nani and Cristiano Ronaldo in support of Helder Postiga up front. Ronaldo scored twice against Holland to increase his tally for Portugal to 34 goals.

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Played – 2
Czech Republic Wins – 1
Draws – 0
Portugal Wins – 1

FORM GUIDE

Czech Republic – WWLLW
16-Jun-12 – Euro 2012 – Czech Republic 1-0 Poland
12-Jun-12 – Euro 2012 – Greece 1-2 Czech Republic
08-Jun-12 – Euro 2012 – Russia 4-1 Czech Republic
01-Jun-12 – Friendly – Czech Republic 1-2 Hungary
26-May-12 – Friendly – Czech Republic 2-1 Israel

Portugal – WWLLD
17-Jun-12 – Euro 2012 – Portugal 2-1 Netherlands
13-Jun-12 – Euro 2012 – Denmark 2-3 Portugal
09-Jun-12 – Euro 2012 – Germany 1-0 Portugal
02-Jun-12 – Friendly – Portugal 1-3 Turkey
26-May-12 – Friendly – Portugal 0-0 Macedonia

KEY PLAYERS TO WATCH

Petr Cech (Czech Republic)
The Chelsea goalkeeper has had a shaky last 12 months for both his club and country, yet he remains the main man between the sticks for his country. The 30-year-old who is set lead his side in the absence of the injured Tomas Rosicky would surely be his side’s main man as they look to face Cristiano Ronaldo and co tonight. The Czechs would need him to be at his best, if they have stand any chance of upsetting the Portuguese and booking themselves a place in the semi-finals.

Michal Kadlec (Czech Republic)
The Bayer Leverkusen man has been playing out of position in the center of the Czech Republic defence, and has been very impressive so far at UEFA EURO 2012. He kept his side in the tournament by making an important in the last minute of injury time against Poland and will have to be at his brilliant best on Thursday to help his team contain Portugal and most importantly Cristiano Ronaldo.

Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
The Real Madrid star has silenced all his critics by scoring a brace against the Netherlands, when it mattered the most, and he will be keen to continue with that form and prove to everyone that it wasn’t just one of performance. His pace, trickery and shooting from range will be the key to unlock Michal Bilek’s side’s defence. The Portuguese will be dependent on their skipper to produce the good and take them through to the semi-finals.

Pepe (Portugal)
The Real Madrid defender has been as solid as a rock in the heart of the Portuguese defence. The hard tacking defender has had an excellent tournament so far, and has been one of the reason why Portugal has made it through the Group of Death and to the quarter-finals. He was solid against the Dutch on Sunday. Another performance like that against the Czechs today and Portugal are through to the final four.

PROBABLE LINEUPS

Czech Republic(4-2-3-1): Petr Cech (C); Theodor Gebre Selassie, Tomas Sivok, Michal Kadlec, David Limbersky; Tomas Hubschman, Jaroslav Plasil; Petr Jiracek, Daniel Kolar, Vaclav Pilar; Milan Baros.

The Czech have an extremely dangerous attacking force down the wings, with both full-backs Theodor Gebre Selassie and David Limbersky supporting Jiracek and Pilar at every given opportunity. Rosicky has been ruled out to start this game but may make an appearance from the bench, in his place Daniel Kolar will continue to deputise. Baros and Kolar will be the men down the middle, with Tomas Hubschman and Jaroslav Plasil protecting the midfield from the deep positions. Tomas Sivoc and Michal Kadlec have grown in stature as the tournament has progressed and their presence in the centre of defence will once again prove to be vital.

Portugal (4-3-3): Rui Patricio; Joao Perreira, Pepe, Bruno Alves, Fabio Coentrao; Miguel Veloso, Raul Meireles, Joao Moutinho; Nani, Helder Postiga, Cristiano Ronaldo (C).

The Portuguese have a settled 4-3-3 formation with Ronaldo and Nani flanking with Postiga in the middle. Miguel Veloso will be tasked with shielding the back-four while Joao Moutinho and Raul Meireles complete the midfield trio. The central pair of Pepe and Bruno Alves will have Joao Pereira and Fabio Coentrao for support on either side, with Rui Patricio between the posts.

MATCH ODDS

Czech Republic 4/1 Draw 13/5 Portugal 8/11

PREDICTION

The Portuguese have a lot of attacking talent to trouble the Czechs and in Cristiano Ronaldo they have got the second best player in the whole world. But at the same time Czech Republic are equally dangerous especially attacking from the wide areas. The game will have a cautious start with both teams making sure they don’t concede an early goal. As the two teams settle down, they will start playing some free flowing attacking football and Cristiano Ronaldo will be the key. If the Czech defence can keep the former Manchester United star quiet for the whole game then they are in win a huge chance, but I can’t see that happening with the form he is in.

Predicted Score – Czech Republic 1-2 Portugal