Tag Archives: Schalke

Champions League Round Of 16 Draw – Some Mouth-Watering Clashes

UCL Round Of 16

The draw for the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 has been made and we have some mouth-watering clashes in store for us. Cristiano Ronaldo returns to Manchester United for the first time since his transfer to Real Madrid in 2009, while Barcelona face AC Milan and Arsenal take on Bayern Munich.

In other matches, Turkish champions Galatasary face Schalke, Celtic have tough opposition in Juventus, Dortmund take on the improving Shakhtar Donetsk, while Valencia face Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s PSG and Porto battle it out against unfancied Malaga.

Here is a run down on all the eight ties from the Champions League Round Of 16…

Galatasaray v Schalke

This is a tie which could easily go either way. Galatasaray will be the most happier of the two teams to have avoided the big names in the first knockout round. Schalke, on the other hand, will be happy to play the second leg at home in front of a sold out crowd in Germany, which has been one of the most difficult places to play football away from home this season.

Prediction: Schalke

Celtic v Juventus

Celtic had very few hopes of making it through to the last-16 but they did it, and now if they can do it again it would be a huge achievement but it looks highly unlikely. The Bhoys always knew that they were going to get a difficult draw. However, their home win against Barcelona will give them some confidence of securing a first leg advantage which they can take back to Italy.

Prediction: Juventus

Arsenal v Bayern Munich (Must Watch)

Arsenal never really seem to have any luck at this stage of the competition with draws against Barcelona and AC Milan in the two seasons before this one. The Gunners now face Bayern Munich – last season’s runners-up – and its no doubt this is going to a very tough game for the English side. But at the same time its a superb challenge for Arsene Wenger’s young side to defy all odds and shock the German giants.

Prediction: Bayern Munich

Shakhtar Donetsk v Borussia Dortmund (Must Watch)

Of all the ties this has to be one of the most entertaining tie consisting of two teams that have been very impressive this year. Dortmund are the heavy favourites to win this one having topped the Group of Death, but you can’t take Shakhtar for granted. They have also been very good in the group stages and have dumped Chelsea out of the competition.

Prediction: Borussia Dortmund

AC Milan v Barcelona (Must Watch)

A mouth-watering clash between two teams that have a long and rich history in the Champions League. AC Milan are not anymore the same force of the old, but have huge pedigree in this competition, while Barcelona are currently the best team in Europe. This could be one of the first matches that Tito Vilanova takes charge of following his treatment against cancer relapse.

Prediction: Barcelona

Real Madrid v Manchester United (Must Watch)

This is the dream match and also a first chance to see Cristiano Ronaldo return to his old club. The Portuguese star is still loved by the United faithful but he will be the obvious threat to their quarter-final chances. Both sides would have wanted to avoid each other before the semi-finals (atleast) but its a great tie for the neutrals. The two sides have some great history and rivalry between them and hopefully the tie could live up to the expectations.

Prediction: Manchester United

Valencia v Paris Saint-German

PSG will be delighted with this draw. The French club spent heavily in the summer to buy some talent players and in Carlo Ancelotti they have an experienced coach to guide them through this tie comfortably. The Spaniards, on the other hand, can’t be underestimated as they have been impressive in the group stages but they face a huge task ahead and will have to make the most of the first leg at home.

Prediction: Paris Saint-Germain

Porto v Malaga 

Another of the ties which could go either way. Porto are a tricky opposition and have tremendous talent in their ranks but they will have to cash in during the first leg at home because Malaga are one of the highest scoring teams at home in this competition. But at the same time, the Spaniards have been very inconsistent in the league and their inexperience in this competition may count against them.

Prediction: Porto

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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

Champions League Permutations

ucl-permutations

Just one round of fixtures remain in the group stages of the UEFA Champions League, with 13 teams having already qualified for the last-16. 

All the four Spanish teams are through to the knockout stages along with Arsenal & Manchester United, and with just three places up for grabs holders Chelsea are one of the six teams in contention on 4 and 5 December.

Qualified for the last 16: FC Porto, Paris Saint-Germain, Schalke 04, Arsenal, Malaga (GW), AC Milan, Borussia Dortmund (GW), Real Madrid, Shakhtar Dontesk, Bayern Munich, Valencia, Barcelona (GW), Manchester United (GW).

GW – Group Winners 

Can still qualify: Juventus or Chelsea; Benfica or Celtic; Galatasaray or CFR Cluj (in each case losing team will play in the UEFA Europa League).

Confirmed in the UEFA Europa League: Dynamo Kiev, Olympiakos, BATE Borisov.

Can qualify for UEFA Europa League: Zenit St Petersburg or Anderlecht; Ajax or Manchester City (in each case the losing team will be knocked out of Europe)

Knocked out of Europe: Dinamo Zagreb, Montpellier, Nordsjælland, Spartak Moscow, LOSC Lille, Braga.

Here lets have a look the the permutations for all the eight groups..

4TH DECEMBER

GROUP A

Paris Saint-Germain (12pts) v FC Porto (13), Dinamo Zagreb (0) v Dynamo Kiev (4)

Porto have qualified with the most number of points after five games and will clinch the first place in the group win a win or a draw in Paris.

PSG are also through but must beat Porto to finish top.

Dynamo Kiev will transfer to the knockout stages of the Europa League

Dinamo Zagreb are out of Europe.

GROUP B

Olympiakos (6pts) v Arsenal (10), Montpellier (1) v Schalke 04 (11)

Schalke  are through and will win the group if they get all three points in France or Arsenal are denied a win in Greece due to their head-to-head superiority.

Arsenal have qualified for the knockout stages for the 13th year running but to top the group, they must win at Olympiakos and hope Montpellier don’t lose to Schalke.

Olympiakos will transfer to the knockout stages of the Europa League.

Montpellier are out of Europe.

GROUP C

Malaga (11pts) v Anderlecht (4), AC Milan (8) v Zenit St Petersburg (4)

Malaga in their debut season in the Champions League have qualified as group winners due to their head-to-head superiority over Milan.

Milan are through as runners-up of the group.

Zenit lie third on goal difference as they are level on head-to-head with Anderlecht, with whom they fighting for a place in the last-32 of the Europa League. If the two matches in the group end in a draw, the Russian wll qualify for the Europa League due to the superior goal difference.

Anderlecht will qualify for the Europa League knockout stages if they pick up more points than Zenit or overturn their goal difference.

GROUP D

Borussia Dortmund (11pts) v Manchester City (3), Real Madrid (8) v Ajax (4)

Dortmund have qualified as group winners due to their head-to-head superiority over the reigning Spanish champions.

Real Madrid are through as runners-up, the 16th year in a row they have made it through their group.

Ajax will qualify for the Europa League if they win in Madrid or if Manchester City fail to win at Dortmund due to the Dutch champions’ head-to-head superiority.

Manchester City will qualify for the last-32 of the the Europa League if they win in Germany and Ajax fail to win in Spain.

5TH DECEMBER

GROUP E

Shakhtar Donetsk (10pts) v Juventus (9), Chelsea (7) v Nordsjælland (1)

Shakhtar are through and will clinch first place with a win or draw in their final game.

Juventus will finish first with a win against Shakhtar, and will be through with a draw even if Chelsea win against Nordsjælland.

Chelsea need to win their final game and hope the Italian champions lose as their head-to-head record is inferior to both teams above them.

Nordsjælland are out of Europe.

GROUP F

Bayern Munich (10pts) v BATE Borisov (6), LOSC Lille (3) v Valencia (10)

Bayern are through to the last-16 and top on head-to-head record ahead of Valencia. The Germans will win the group if they beat BATE or secure as many points as Valencia.

Valencia are through but must pick up more points than Bayern to finish first in the group.

BATE will finish third and enter the Europa League as their head-to-head record is superior to Lille’s.

Lille are out of Europe.

GROUP G

Barcelona (12pts) v Benfica (7), Celtic (7) v Spartak Moscow (3)

Barcelona are through as group winners

Benfica will be through with a win in Spain, or as long as they pick up the same number of points as Celtic, as they have the head-to-head superiority over the Scottish champions.

Celtic must pick up more points than Benfica to overtake them and make in through to the last-16.

Spartak are out of Europe.

GROUP H

Manchester United (12pts) v CFR Cluj (7), SC (3) v Galatasaray (7)

Manchester United are through as group winners.

Galatasaray are second ahead of Cluj on head-to-head record. They will qualify with a win in Portugal or as long as they pick up as many points as the Romanians.

Cluj must secure more points than Galatasaray to qualify for the Round of 16.

Braga are out of Europe.

Champions League 2012/13 Contenders

We are in the final hours before Europe’s elite club competition – the UEFA Champions League 2012/13 kicks-off and it has the potential to be the most open competition since Porto won it in 2004. 

Barcelona and Real Madrid are once again the overwhelming favourites, but there are a number of other clubs, aside from the usual candidates, with genuine reason to believe they can be in contention when the tournament reaches its climax in May. Manchester City, Juventus, Zenit St Petersburg, Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint Germain are five sides who could surprise their European rivals, and have the potential to beat any other club in the field on their day.

In our today’s Picture Special, we have a look at the fifteen top contenders for the Champions League this season..

1. Barcelona (Semi-Finals | Spain) 

2. Real Madrid (Semi-Finals | Spain)

3. Manchester United (Group Stage | England)

4. Manchester City (Group Stage | England)

5. Bayern Munich (Final | Germany)

6. Chelsea (Winners | England)

7. Juventus (Did Not Play | Italy)

8. Paris Saint-Germain (Did Not Play | France)

9. Arsenal (Round of 16 | England)

10. AC Milan (Quarter-Finals | Italy)

11. Borussia Dortmund (Group Stage | Germany)

12. FC Porto (Group Stage | Portugal)

13. Valencia  (Group Stage | Spain)

14. Zenit St Petersburg (Round Of 16 | Russia)

15. Schalke (Did Not Play | Germany) 

A Complete Guide To The UEFA Champions League Group Stage Draw

The draw for the UEFA Champions League 2012/13 group stage takes place today in Monaco, with 32 teams set to discover their fate in the world’s elite club competition.

Last season’s winners Chelsea will be hoping to become the first team to defend their European crown this season in London, since AC Milan in 1989 and 1990, back in the old format of the European Cup. Standing in their way are the usual pre-tournament favourites Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United and Bayern Munich, while big-spending Paris Saint-Germain and the reigning Premier League champions Manchester City are being tipped by many as serious contenders.

The draw will start at 16:45 BST and you can follow it LIVE on Sky Sports and BBC. In the meantime, here is a complete guide which will help you know everything you need to know.

WHERE WILL THE DRAW TAKE PLACE?

The UEFA Champions League group stage draw will take place at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco. It will also host the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year award ceremony, along with the UEFA Europa League group stage draw which will take place tomorrow.

Champions League winners Chelsea and Europa League winners Atletico Madrid are already in town for their UEFA Super Cup match tomorrow night at the Stade Louis II, and both will give a pre-match press conferences today at the venue before the draw.

The draw will begin at 17:45 local time, which translates to 11:45 Eastern time and 21:15 Indian time.

UEFA president Michel Platini is sure to be present along with General Secretary Gianni Infantino (who will do the draw), the usual array of esteemed former players, an ambassador for the 2013 Wembley final and the representatives from all the 32 clubs in the draw.

WHAT ARE THE SEEDINGS?

The lineup and seedings are complete for today’s UEFA Champions League group stage draw. The 32 qualifiers have been divided into four pots based on the UEFA coefficients, which are in turn determined by a mixture of the team’s own performance in Europe over the past five seasons, as well as the strength of their country’s league. Here are the seeding for all the 32 teams:

POT 1
Chelsea, Barcelona, Manchester United, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Arsenal, Porto, AC Milan

POT 2
Valencia, Benfica, Shakhtar Donetsk, Zenit St. Petersburg, Schalke, Manchester City, Braga, Dynamo Kiev

POT 3
Olympiacos, Anderlecht, Ajax, Juventus, Spartak Moscow, Paris Saint-Germain, Galatasaray, Lille

POT 4
Celtic, Borussia Dortmund, BATE Borisov, Dinamo Zagreb, CFR Cluj, Montpellier, Malaga, Nordsjaelland

HOW DOES THE DRAW WORK?

The Champions League group stage comprises eight groups of four teams. A team from each pot is drawn and placed into one of the eight groups available. This is done by pot and not “one at a time”. That is to say, all the teams from pot one will be placed into a group, and then pot two, and so on down to the fourth and final pot.

There are some restrictions, though. Teams from the same country cannot be drawn together, and even prior to that there will be two ‘sets’ of groups decided for the purpose of television rights. For example, the four teams from England cannot all be drawn in the same set.

Potential Group of Death – The champions of Spain, England, Italy and Germany could all be drawn in the same group. That means, Real Madrid, Manchester City, Juventus and Borussia Dortmund could all end up in the same group.

WHAT IS THE FORMAT AND THE SCHEDULE?

The four teams in each group will face each other home and away. This means there will be a total of six “matchdays” in each group spread across a Tuesday and Wednesday. The top two teams from each group advance to the first knockout round (Round of 16). The third-place finishers in each group enter the UEFA Europa League round of 32.

From the last 16 untill the semi-finals, clubs play two matches against each other on a home-and-away basis with the club scoring the greater aggregate of goals qualifing for the next round. Away goals and then penalties will be used to determine the winner if there is a draw. In the last 16, group winners play runners-up other than teams from their own group or country, while from the quarter-finals on the draw is free.

The final is decided by a single match, which this season will be played at the Wembley Stadium on Saturday, 25th May 2013.

Group Stage, Matchday 1 – 18/19 Sep
Group Stage, Matchday 2 – 02/03 Oct
Group Stage, Matchday 3 – 23/24 Oct
Group Stage, Matchday 4 – 06/07 Nov
Group Stage, Matchday 5 – 20/21 Nov
Group Stage, Matchday 6 – 04/05 Dec

Round of 16, 1st Leg – 12/13 Feb & 19/20 Feb
Round of 16, 2nd Leg – 05/06 Mar & 12/13 Mar
Quarter-Finals, 1st Leg – 02/03 Apr
Quarter-Finals, 2nd Leg – 09/10 Apr
Semi-Finals, 1st Leg – 23/24 Apr
Semi-Finals, 2nd Leg – 01/02 May

Final (Wembley Stadium) – 25 May

WHO ARE THE FAVOURITES?

Barcelone finished trophyless last season as they lost their League title to Real Madrid and were knocked out in the semi-finals of the Champions League by eventual winners Chelsea. But as always, they are the favourites with most bookmakers to win the Champions League this season under new boss Tito Vilanova.

Real Madrid are a close second, with Jose Mourinho hoping to win his first Champions League title with the Whites, while Manchester United and Manchester City are next in the line. Holders Chelsea are placed at 14/1 odds to defend their crown along with runners-up Bayern Munich.

Moneybags Paris Saint-Germain and Italian champions Juventus are priced as high as 18/1 by the bookies, while Arsenal, AC Milan and Borussia Dortmund are in the next group back.

Arsenal’s Potential Summer 2012 Transfer Targets

Arsenal had a strong end to the season after having started it with one of the worst starts in their history. The Gunners finished third behind the two Manchester clubs, but had to rely heavily on Robin van Persie’s goals.

This summer, Arsenal have already strengthen their attack by signing the likes of Lukas Podolshi & Oliver Giroud from FC Koln and Montpellier respectively, but they are set to lose their talismanic skipper after he announced yesterday that he has decided against signing a new contract. Arsene Wenger will have to dip in the transfer market and buy some players not only to replace Van Persie but also Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, who left the club last summer. Here are Arsenal’s potential summer transfer targets..

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 Wojciech Szczesny highly inconsistent and a bit less experienced, Lloris would be a great signing for the Gunners but they face some competition from a host of European clubs like Tottenham, Liverpool and AC Milan.

EMILIANO VIVIANO – PALERMO (GOALKEEPER)

With Manuel Almunia having left the Emirates and Lukasz Fabianski not interested in staying Szczesny’s deputy, Wenger has targeted the 26-year-old Palermo stopper Emiliano Viviano – who is co-owned by Inter Milan – as a possible cover. Neither club view him as a potential first choice for the new season, so his agent has been told he can negotiate a transfer. Fiorentina have also expressed a firm interest in Viviano along with some other Serie A clubs.

MAPOU YANGA-MBIWA – MONTPELLIER (DEFENDER)

The 23-year-old is another defender from Ligue 1 linked with the Gunners this season. Yanga-Mbiwa captained Montpellier to the title this season and was their stalwart in defence. The Montpellier skipper would be a very useful signing for Arsenal as they lack some strong backup for Thomas Vermaelen and Laurent Koscielny. It has been suggested the player would cost in the region of £13m.

ABDOU KADER MANGANE – RENNES (DEFENDER)

Abou Kader Mangane, the 29-year-old Senegalese defender who Wenger has previously shown interest in, is another potential transfer target for the Gunners. The 6ft 4in Rennes centre-back will be a major physical presence at the back and will cost around £4-5m. He has also been linked with the likes of Sunderland and Everton in the past.

YANN M’VILA – RENNES (MIDFIELDER)

The 21-year-old will be a perfect signing for the Gunners and will be a rock alongside Alex Song in the midfield. With Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri having left last summer, the Gunners need some quality players in the midfield and M’Vila is surely one of those. Arsenal were once reported to be in ‘advanced negotiations’ with Rennes for the defensive midfielder’s services but nothing has progressed since then. The French international who has been capped 22 times would cost in the region of £20m.

LUCAS BIGLIA – ANDERLECHT (MIDFIELDER)

The experience midfielder is a second choice option for Arsene Wenger behind M’Vila. The 26-year-old Argentine international, who has 6 caps to his name, guided Anderlecht to their second consecutive Belgium league title this season. At just £8m asking price, Wenger may go for the cheaper option.

YOUNES BELHANDA – MONTPELLIER (MIDFIELDER)

The 22-year-old Moroccan is one of the upcoming stars in European football having helped Montpellier win their first ever Ligue 1 title. Belhanda was the standout performer scoring 12 goals and assisting 4 times in 28 matches. Wenger has expressed his interest in the versatile winger, who is rated in the region of £15m, but will face some competition from the likes of Manchester City and Real Madrid.

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.

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 Van Persie expected to leave, Wenger might try and sign the 22-year-old pacey forward – who can also play on the wings – but will face some tough competition for his signature from Tottenham, who have also expressed their interest in him.

SALOMON KALOU – FREE AGENT (STRIKER)

According to some reports in the England, Arsenal are interested in the former Chelsea forward who has a lot of Premier League experience and a Champions League winners medal to his name. Kalou is for free but will demand high wages and regular first team football. The Gunners will also face some stiff competition for his services from the likes of Lille, Schalke and Premier League rivals Liverpool.

KLAAS-JAN HUNTELAAR – SCHALKE (STRIKER)

The 28-year-old Dutchman, who has a €20m release clause in his contract, will be a ready-made replacement for his fellow Dutch teammate Robin van Persie at Arsenal. The Schalke hitman who has been on Arsenal’s radar for quite some time now, scored 29 times in 32 Bundesliga matches last season as his club finished third. The former Ajax striker is back to his best following disappointing spells at Real Madrid and AC Milan and will be hoping to try his trade in the Premier League.

SALOMON RANDON – MALAGA (STRIKER)

Randon 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, Arsenal are preparing a £10m bid for him as they look to replace Robin van Persie, but at the same time Chelsea are also interested in him and want him as a cover for Fernando Torres.