Saturday, 3 September 2011

Champions League 11/12 Preview - Group B

Group B

Trabzonspor AS

Last season:
2nd Super Liga
Europa League play-offs

Manager: Senol Gunes

Key Man: Alanzinho

Stadium: Huseyin Avni Aker, Capacity 28,169

Installed into the Champions League in dramatic fashion, replacing Turkish “champions” Fenerbahce, who were removed from the Champions League by the Turkish Football Federation after being instigated in a match fixing scandal.

They were in the Europa League playoffs last season, crashing out 3-1 on aggregate to Liverpool, and finished second in the Turkish Super Liga, missing out on the title on the head to head ruling in favour of Fenerbahce.

Well known names that play for the Turkish club include Marek Cech who signed from West Brom on deadline day, former Spurs midfielder Didier Zokora, and former Schalke winger Halil Altintop. Less familiar names, but a player to look out for is Burak Yilmaz, who is a 26 year old Turkish international striker, who has scored 23 goals in 41 games for Trabzonspor.

Best Starting XI:

LOSC Lille Metropole

Last Season:
1st Ligue 1
Coupe de France
Europa League round of 32

Manager: Rudi Garcia

Key Man: Eden Hazard

Stadium: Stade Lille-Metropole, Capacity 17,754

All conquering Lille had their best season in history, collecting the Ligue 1 for the first time in over 50 years, as well as winning the French Cup to complete a domestic double.

This summer, the success of the 10/11 season saw the clubs star performers become the interest of side all over Europe, as forward Gervinho left to join Arsenal, Yohann Cabaye joined Newcastle and Pierre-Alain Frau left also. Undeterred, Lille spent wisely strengthening by signing central midfielder Benoit Pedretti from Auxerre, winger Dimirti Payet from St. Etienne and most intriguingly Joe Cole on loan from Liverpool.

Best Starting XI:


Last season:

2nd Russian Premier League
Russian Cup
Europa League, round of 16

Manager: Leonid Slutsky

Key Man: Zoran Tosic

Stadium: Luzhniki Stadium, Capacity 78,360 (artificial turf)

The Russian side are regulars in the Champions League, but missed out last season and took part in the Europa League last season, losing to eventual winners Porto. This time round, they make their fifth appearance in the Champions League in the last seven years. With long term injuries to key players Igor Akinfeev and Keisuke Honda, CSKA have a tougher task than usual.

Look out for fomer Manchester United winger Zoran Tosic, ex-Liverpool midfielder Mark Gonzales, and with the injury to Honda, Alan Dzagoev will have a bigger part to play for CSKA.

Best Starting XI:

FC Internazionale Milan

Last season:

2nd Serie A
Coppa Italia
Champions League, quarter-finals

Manager: Gian Piero Gasperini

Key Man: Wesley Sneijder

Stadium: San Siro, Capacity 80,074

After securing a sensational treble from the 2009/10 season, and losing manager Jose Mourinho to Real Madrid, Inter Milan struggled to match those heights last season. First in charge was former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez, whose reign at the top was extremely short due to severe injuries which caused poor results on the pitch, saw him replaced by the turn of the year. Leonardo took over, and guided Inter to second place in the league, and the Coppa Italia trophy.

Inter only had one major exit, and that was talismanic striker Samuel Eto’o to Russian billionaires Anzhi. They reinvested heavily signing experienced forward Diego Forlan from Athletico, winger Ricardo Alvarez, midfielder Andrea Poli from Sampdoria, Luc Castaignos from Feyenoord and Mauro Zarate from Lazio. Firepower to replace Eto’o, while their experienced midfield and defence will need to adapt to Gasperini’s expected formation alteration from 4-3-3 to 3-4-1-2 fast in order to steer clear of any potential upsets.

Best Starting XI:

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