In comparison to previous campaigns, this season’s Champions League tournament would normally be considered a disaster to England fans. Just two English teams qualified from the group stage and barely one English team, Chelsea, made it into the Quarter Finals.
While Roberto Di Matteo’s rejuvenated Chelsea provided some solace for Premier League fans, winning the Champions League by beating Bayern Munich 4-3 on penalties at the Allianz Arena, next season should be very interesting for English clubs.
After successfully winning their first league title in 44 years, Roberto Mancini has promised Man City fans that they will be launching a strong campaign in the Champions League run next season. And who would vote against them the newly crowned domestic champions? Even La Liga champions and Champions League giants Real Madrid are after their star striker, Kun Aguero, for £40+ million deal, which has of course been turned down.
Man Utd will be next on the list, with Sir Alex now being given the backing to find replacements for Scholes and Giggs, and potentially replace Anderson and Berbatov too. 21-year old attacking midfielder Eden Hazard, who has been voted Lige 1 Player of the Year for two consecutive season, has already stated that Utd his preferred destination, while many of Utd’s younger players such as Jones, Evans, Smalling, De Gea, Wellbeck and Cleverley will have built on their experience from this season and the Euros.
Chelsea’s spectacular Champions League win could be the catalyst for a sea of change at the club. Drogba (34) is already set to leave the club for Shanghai Shenhua, and new manager Roberto Di Matteo, on his rolling 1 year contract, will probable be given £50-£100 million to replenish the squad. Malouda and Kalou are very likely to leave the club this summer, which could open up the door for another £20 million spending on transfers. With guaranteed Champions League qualification for next season, Chelsea could easily attract world-class players to the capital, including injured Barcelona striker and Torres’s Spanish teammate David Villa (30).
Finally, while Arsenal have been worse for wear this season, the resurgence of their younger players such as Wilshere (injured all season), Ramsey, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, newly recruited German International winger/striker Lukas Podolski (26) combined with the added experience of players such as Van Persie, Benayoun and Vermalen could make them a very tough team next season. A couple more inspired by Wenger and Arsenal could be a serious contender for the Premier league and Champions League in 2012/13.
Predictions for the Euros this Summer
While Spain and Germany are still undoubtly the best teams to beat this summer, I think this season’s Champions League campaign has shown that even the most technically gifted team doesn’t always win in major tournaments. Instead, you need to look at squad depth, discipline, coaching experience and energy levels. Chelsea’s European victory should give a lot of confidence to smaller, more resolute teams such as England, Sweden, Croatia and Portugal, which I’ll blog about at my sports picks site OddsWinner.com.
At 17:2 or 8:1 at Bet365, the Netherlands are 3rd favorites and look the best value in my opinion. Runners-up at the last World Cup campaign, they have an extremely well balanced team with the likes of Robben, Sneijder, Kuyt, Huntlaar and Premier League top scorer Van Persie upfront. 22-year old PSV captain Kevin Strooman could become their secret weapon this year.
After Chelsea’s European winning season, many fans will be putting their money behind England (25:2), who have a vastly experienced International manager, a very flexible squad and tons of experience to call upon. Champions League winners Terry, Cahill, Cole and Lampard will all be in contention the first XI, while world-class players such as Joe Hart, Rooney, Gerrard, Parker and Young will play their part no doubt. Their bench is also filled with hungry, fresh players such as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, James Milner, Carroll and Wellbeck.
Personally, I believe either England or Germany will be winners at the Euros in June. It has nothing to do with bias. I just think the Spanish players will be exhausted from a tough La Liga season (Barcelona vs. Real Madrid) and they have a very tough group. On the other hand, England and Germany have a combination of youth, experience and energy levels that previous squads would have lacked, not to mention many of England’s players will be full of confidence following a record Premier League and Champions League victory.