September saw the return of Europe’s top club competition, the Champions League and with it the speculation over who will lift the coveted trophy come May. Defending champions Real Madrid find themselves in a fairly easy group along with Swiss champions FC Basle, EPL runners up Liverpool and newcomer’s Bulgarian champions Ludogorets Razgrad. A comfortable 5-1 win on week one against Basle has lifted their spirits as they travel to Bulgaria tonight to face Ludogorets. Whether Ancelotti can guide Madrid to back to back trophies is still to be seen, with a lot of games still to be played. Last year’s runners up Atletico Madrid didn’t have the best of starts in week one with a narrow 3-2 defeat at the hands of Olympiakos. The Spanish champions now entertain Juventus at home before facing Malmo in week three. Failure to get three points against Juventus tonight doesn’t necessarily mean disaster but it will make it harder for them to qualify for the knock out stages as the week’s progress. After last year’s trophy less campaign, Barcelona are pinning hopes on new boss Luis Enrique and his ability to transform the clubs fortunes. Despite being placed in a fairly easy group, Barcelona started with a nervous 1-0 win over Cyprus side Apoel Nicosia only to then stumble in Paris yesterday to PSG. The French champions, who have started their new league campaign poorly, showed grit and determination as they dispatched their Spanish opposition by 3 goals to 2. Barcelona face Dutch champions Ajax next in a must win game.
Seen as many as a contender for this year’s title, Bayern Munich have once again started strongly in what has been called the toughest group. Successive 1-0 wins over Manchester City and CSKA Moscow have helped Bayern to the top of their group with the full six points, two points ahead of Roma. The Italian side started strongly with an impressive 5-1 demolition of CSKA in week one followed by a hard fought 1-1 draw in week two against Manchester City. Manuel Pellegrini’s men knew that the challenge would be hard for them in such a tough group but are failing to ignite in Europe this season with some blaming the lack of atmosphere at the Ethiad as a key factor. Only 37,509 turned up to see City face Roma, much to the amusement of former Manchester United duo Paul Scholes and Rio Ferdinand.
Down in London, Chelsea and Arsenal have had different starts to this year’s tournament with Jose Mourinho’s men quick out the blocks securing a valuable point at home to Schalke followed by three points away to Sporting Lisbon. Arsenal on the other hand find themselves bottom of group D after their week one 2-0 defeat to Borussia Dortmund. Arsene Wenger has midfielder concerns going into tonight’s crunch match against Galatasaray. Jurgen Klopp’s Dortmund on the other hand are near to full strength as they look to extend their lead at the top with a trip to Belgium to face Anderlecht. Finally in group H, Porto lead the way after a stunning 6-0 thrashing of Belarusian champions BATE Borisov followed by a stunning point against Shaktar Donetsk last night who lead by 2-0 up until the 89th minute before Porto replied with a brace from Jackson Martinez to snatch a draw. Elsewhere in the group Athletico Bilbao have it all to do after losing away from home to BATE in week two and drawing against Shaktar in week one. They entertain Porto next in a few weeks time.
With several players in the running for the trophy, who will actually come out on top? Now is your time to tell us in our monthly poll – Who will be victorious come May and lift the Champions League Trophy? Vote below.