Monday, 12 September 2011

Champions League 11/12 Preview - Group C

Group C

Manchester United FC

Last season:

1st Premiership

Champions League runners-up

Manager: Sir Alex Ferguson

Key Man: Wayne Rooney

Stadium: Old Trafford, Capacity 75,975

Manchester United continued their domination of English football by winning their 19th league title, and progressing to their third Champions League final in four years. Sir Alex Ferguson finally has his United challenging for major European honours on a yearly basis, with nothing less expected than reaching the latter stages of the Champions League.

Man United have replaced outgoing experienced, established stars, with energetic, exciting and enthusiastic youth. De Gea has replaced Van Der Sar in goal, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones in defence, Tom Cleverly and Ashley Young in midfield, and Danny Welbeck with Javier Hernandez up front.

Expected United to be challenging once again.

Best Starting XI:

FC Basel 1893

Last season:

1st Swiss Super League

Europa League, round of 32

Uhren Cup

Manager: Thorsten Fink

Key Man: Yann Sommer

Stadium: St. Jacob Park, Capacity 38,500

The 14 times Swiss Super League winners make their return to the Champions’ League group stages after gaining automatic qualification thanks to their Super League title. This Basel side boast five full Swiss national first team players (more than any other club), as well of two of the most promising players in Europe; midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri and goalkeeper Yann Sommer. Also keep an eye on Swiss legend and goal machine Alexander Frei, who has 46 goals in 61 appearances for the club.

Best Starting XI:

FC Otelul Galati

Last season:

1st Romanian Liga I

Supercupa Romaniei

Manager: Dorinel Munteanu

Key Man: Sergiu Costin

Stadium: Otelul, 13,500

Champions League new boys, Galati is a town on the west coast of Romania, Otelul is the main football club and last year’s Romanian league champions (the first time in their history). Similar to many other football fans, I don’t know too much about the Romanian side, but there are two web pages with have a little more details on the obscurely known club.

Best Starting XI:

SL Benfica

Last season:

2nd Primeira Liga

League Cup

Champions League, Group stage

Europa League, Semi-finals

Manager: Jorge Jesus

Key Man: Oscar Cardozo

Stadium: Estadio de Luiz, Capacity 65,647

Benfica had a frustrating season last year, falling short on both the domestic and European front. They finished miles behind Andres Villas-Boas’ Porto side in the league and they lost to eventual Europa League finalists SC Braga in the semi-finals last season, beating Paris Saint Germain, PSV and Stuttgart en route.

They’ve lost one of their best players in Fabio Coentrao to Real Madrid, but signed midfielder Axel Witsel, left backs Emerson and Joan Capdevila, centre-back Ezequiel Garay and winger Enzo Perez to add to a very good squad. Benfica beat FC Twente 5-3 on aggregate in the Champions League play-offs.

Best Starting XI:

Arthur – Emerson, Luisao, Garay, Maxi Pereira – Javi Garcia, Witsel, Aimar – Gaita, Nolito, Cardozo

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