Monday, 12 September 2011

Champions League 11/12 Preview - Group F

Group F

Arsenal FC

Last season:

4th Premiership
Champions League, round of 16
Carling Cup runners-up

Manager: Arsene Wenger

Key Man: Robin Van Persie

Stadium: Emirates, capacity 60,361

Arsenal has finally put a summer of turmoil behind them, which saw them lose their talismanic captain Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona. Arsene Wenger responded by spending £50 million on nine new players this summer to add depth to his squad. It’ll be interesting to see how they respond, and whether the staggering amount of injuries could make the group difficult to navigate. Arsenal overcame Udinese in a tricky two-legged tie in the qualifying round.

I had Jack Wilshere at the club’s key player, but due to his ankle injury, he won’t feature in any of the group matches, a big miss. New signings Mikel Arteta and Yossi Benayoun will look to impress for their new club at the highest level.

Best Starting XI:

Olympiacos FC

Last season:

1st Greek Super League
Europa League third qualifying round

Manager: Ernesto Valverde

Key Man: Kevin Miralles

Stadium: Karaiskakis, capacity 33,334

In a same group as Arsenal two years ago, Olympicos qualified ahead of AZ Alkmaar and Standard Liege, and also beat Arsenal 1-0 on their way. The Greek side are coming off a successful league campaign last season where they won the title by 13 clear points, and conceded 18 goals in 30 matches.

Best Starting XI:

Olympique de Marseille

Last season:

2nd Ligue 1
Coupe de la Ligue winners
Trophee des Champions winners
Champions League, round of 16

Manager: Didier Deschamps

Key Man: Loic Remy

Stadium: Stade Velodrome, capacity 60,031

Didier Deschamps’ side has an array of attacking individuals in his starting line up, and young exciting players from the bench. It would seem Marseille are strong in knockout matches, collecting two domestic trophies last season. They’ll look to improve on their round of 16 finish, losing to eventual finalists Manchester United last year.

Best Starting XI:

Borussia Dortmund

Last season:

1st Bundesliga
Europa League group stage

Manager: Jurgen Klopp

Key Man: Mario Gotze

Stadium: Signal Iduna Park, capacity 80,720

Dortmund returned to the summit of German football, winning their first domestic title for nine years. Manager Jurgen Klopp had the Black and Yellows playing some sensational attacking football which blew their opponents away. Not to discredit their defence either, the likes of Neven Subotic and Mats Hummels saw them only concede 22 goals, the best defensive record in the league.

They’ve lost one of their best players; Nuri Sahin to Real Madrid, but still has undoubtedly quality in Mario Gotze and Shinji Kagawa in midfield, and Lucas Barrios up front. A tough team, and could run out group winners.

Best Starting XI:

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