time for european football – part three

greatest talent in the europa league? probably this 17-year old man, romelu lukaku, belgian from rsc anderlecht.

here a quick overview of the remaining groups:

el-g: zenit st petersburg is trying to win this group with portuguese veterans bruno alves, fernando meira and danny and some really good russian internationals (malafeev, semak, anyukov). rsc anderlecht will fight it out with aek athens for second place; the czech jan polak is belgian’s biggest foreign star, lukaku, the belgian, has he greatest future.  at age 17, he is the current belgian top scorer and sure will move to a big team after this season. aek has 32-year old world cup 2002 veteran from senegal, papa bouba diop.

cl-h: arsenal fc is the clear cut favorite for the weakest champions league group of all. with fabregas, arshavin, van persie, nasri, vela, walcott, denílson, bendtner: they already showed what they can do on tuesday. the brazilian-croatian eduardo da silva moved from arsenal do shakhtar donetsk – e team with eight more brazilians and srna as a captain. sporting braga and partizan belgrade will fight it out for the europa league qualifying third place. braga has 17 brazilians (!) and only 7 portuguese players in their squad.

greatest goalscorer in this year's europa league? good chances for luis fabiano.

el-j: sevilla fc is the favorite for the europa league group, with their attacking stars kanouté, luis fabiano. ivory coast ‘s zokora will help talented spaniards capel, negredo, navarro and jesus navas. paris sg really wants to bring it this year, and has french veterans coupet, makélélé, giuly and rothen. they still have kezman (ex-chelsea and atletico) on their pay role, but the promise in the attack is hoarau. this group is tough because the third force is borussia dortmund, which have a very strong team this season: turkish midfielder sahin, barrios in the attack, new japanese player nakawa, and some really good young german players, like grosskreutz and hummels. karpaty lviv is dangerous basically because they are from the ukraine.

el-b: atletico madrid have the greatest star of the world cup, diego forlan. fran merida is still a talent, juan antonio reyes still has more promise, and sergio aguero is the ideal partner for forlan up front. bayer leverkusen have michael ballack, who is injured. vidal, helmes, kiessling, castro, adler, hyppiä… pretty good. rosenborg trondheim is no champions league regular any more, and aris saloniki isn’t really a contender… or are they?

diego forlan is the greatest star in the europa league - and the current champion!

in the other groups, here are my picks to go to the next phase:

el-d: villarreal and club brugge

el-k: liverpool and ssc napoli

el-c: sporting lisbon and osc lille

el-a: juventus, manchester city

el-i: psv eindhoven, sampdoria genova

el-e: dynamo kiev, bate borisov

el-f: cska moscow, us palermo

el-h: vfb stuttgart, getafe fc

time for european football – part two

here are the next four groups of the european football action which will start on tuesday.

cl = champions league, el = europa league, (historical rank/current rank)

cl – group b

enyeama was one of this year's world cup stars - and he'll play some serious champions league for hapoel tel aviv.

olympique lyon (37/10), benfica lisbon (8/21), fc schalke 04 (57/39), hapoel tel aviv (201/64)

quite an unpredictable group we have here, and more attractive than in first sight. french goal keeping future hugo lloris will at some point play hapoel, who has no one less than vincent enyeaman, goalie hero from nigeria at this year’s world cup. benfica can count with midfielder javier garcia, young real madrid talent who dreams of a national team career. the brazilian luisão, central defender, was part of he 2010 world cup squad. maxi pereira had a very successful world cup for uruguay, and who doesn’t know argentinian striker saviola, left back fabio coentrão and their captain, nuno gomes. not a bad team from benfica, who had a great season in 2009/10, but lost brazilian midfielder ramires to chelsea.

raul hopes to continue to lead all scoring statistics in the champions league...

it should be quite a battle with the other two favorites. schalke 04 has just bought atletico madrid midfielder jurado, ex-milan and ex-real madrid striker huntelaar (who just scored 5 goals in the first two euro qualifiers for the netherlands) – and, of course, real madrid legend raul. none of these were actually starters for their respective teams, but maybe they will find their football luck in germany. metzelder, 3 years at real madrid, is another one of those. peruvian farfan, future german full back höwedes, and american national jones are not well known in europe, but this might change. lyon’s captain is the brazilian cris, who didn’t make it in germany (leverkusen); the brazilians michel bastos and ederson, and the argentinians delgado and mostly lisandro lópez. the newest star is courcuff, who just ame from girondins bordeaux and is france’s rising star. striker gomis has a great future, toulalan is already very successful.

cl – group e

bayern munich (3/5), as roma (23/12), fc basel (96/57), cfr cluj (374/89)

ribery wants to finally become a world star this season...

bayern are the german powerhouse, roma is only second to inter in italy; at least has been for the last four or five years, where milan has been passing through a crsis. it seems like a run for first position in this group. bayern has world stars like robben (who will not play the group stage, since he player the world cup with an incredible injury), ribéry, lahm, schweinsteiger, müller and klose, and future stars like badstuber, contento and kroos. to put people like turkish star hamit altintop, ukraine captain tymoschuk, german national striker mario gomez and argentinian full back martin demichelis on the bench is a sign of quality. roma has quite a lot of quality, too: eight brazilians are there, the most famous being striker adriano, who is still looking for his physical form. juan is a world class defender, doni is a good goalkeeper, and julio baptista hopes to play more often this year. but it is totti’s team, and he is the star. de rossi is also very important for the team, which has played together for quite some years now. it seems that fc basel (most famous player is the swiss striker alex frei) and cfr cluj (captain cadu played for his native boavista porto) will be playing for the europa league, which is the third place.

cl – group d

fc barcelona (2/2), panathinaikos athens (26/32), fc copenhagen (103/50), rubin kazan (323/73)

carlos eduardo dreams of being brazil's next midfield star in the national team - and hopes to show his from for russian champs rubin kazan.

ok, i guess we agree that barcelona is through; the question will be if xavi, iniesta, messi, villa, puyol & co. will manage 18 points out of six matches. the run is for the second position, and my bet is on rubin kazan, even if the russians have much less experience than panathinaikos. rubin has been great in their home league, as current champions they have a chance to defend the title. adding to an already good team, the russians bought obefami martins (nigeria) and carlos eduardo (brazil), both from the bundesliga and both currently in their national squads. panathinaikos has some international stars, too: cissé, french striker, and gilberto silva, brazilian central midfielder, were both in south africa. but both of them are older, just like gouvou, who just joined the team after a decade of success at olympique lyon (and also played the world cup). other international veterans include spaniard luis garcia (ex-barcelona, atletico madrid and liverpool) and the greek european champion karagounis. a veteran team with the bigger names – will they reach the second round for the third time in a row? copenhagen would love to continue in european football after december and would be happy about a third place. veteran jesper gronkjaer will try to help his team get there.

el – group l

fc porto (12/13), besiktas istanbul (81/62), cska sofia (43/116), rapid vienna (39/111)

after playing for real madrid since teenager years, guti will now defend besiktas in the europa league.

this is by far the most interesting froup in the europa league, even more interesting than a champions league group. this is quite obvious, since porto has played champions league almost every year since the beginning of the tournament, and besiktas saw themselves in the cl, too. rapid vienna and cska sofica are both very traditional clubs, both are well within the best 50 in european history. and quite a few stars will play in this group. porto counts on uruguain internationals álvaro pereira and jorge fucile, who had a great world cup. otamendi played for argentina, and joão moutinho is a veteran for portugal; brazilian goalie helton is their captain. besiktas has famous goalkeeper rüstü (world cup 2002 star), the portuguese defensive winger quaresma, brazilians bobô and tabata, germans ernst and hilbert (both ex-national players) – and their newest star, real madrid’s guti. nihat is the most famous turkish player. cska sofia has michel platini – but don’t worry, he’s just an unknown brazilian player! at rapid, at least a known name: jan vennegoor of hesselink has had quite a successful career at psv eindhoven and celtic (including 17 matches for holland).