With the World Cup closed out and champions Spain still enjoying the afterglow of their glory, a new season of football dawns upon Europe.
While our main focus is on the English Premier League, this is a brief look at what the rest of Europe has to offer this year to the footballing world so without further ado we’ll start with the World Champions, Spain.
After a summer spending spree rivaling that of Paris Hilton Real Madrid were tipped to win La Liga comfortable last season, however newly crowned treble winners Barcelona managed to pull a victory over the Galacticos dos (2) and forced Madrid to sign a new manager in Jose Mourinho (formerly of Chelsea and Inter Milan) however as of yet – no high-profile signings however with the departure of legends Raul and Guti, new signings are sure to come before the transfer window shuts. Meanwhile Barca’s reaction was to sign the most wanted hit-man outside of Chev Chelios, DAVID ‘don’t call me Aston’ VILLA – not a bad signing to replace Thierry ‘all hands on deck’ Henry.
Winning Prediction: Barcelona – I’m of the mindset that unless Madrid are whipped into a team that isn’t playing for the money which might be harder without Guti and Raul it’ll be another disappointing year for Ronaldo and co.
Surprise of the Season: Valencia – after selling their two best players in David Villa (Barca) and David Silva (Man City) and reports of HUGE debt Valencia are in a make or break season; either they make it into Europe and the money that follows or be forced to sell more stars which can only head downwards…
After almost reaching the promised land, Bayern Munich look likely to storm to the title again with talk of Ribery moving to Madrid or Chelsea proven to be nothing but scuttlebutt, Bayern again look to be the clear favorites – however with Steve McClaren in charge of FC Wolfsburg, could he be the first Englishman to conquer Germany since 1945?? And bigger news former Chelsea player Michael Ballack is back playing in his home country.
Winning Prediction: Bayern Munich – Can’t really see anyone else taking it if Bayern can hold to their best players and sign one or two more to hold out for injuries I can see them working through Europe as well.
Surprise of the Season: FC Wolfsburg – Steve McClaren might be able to do a good job with FC Twente but whether he can do the same with Die Wolfe is an interesting test which might rely on being able to keep Edin Drazo with Man City and a host of other clubs wanting his signature times are interesting…
After a season of pretty much nothing Celtic fans need their team to do well – with fan’s favorite Neil Lennon at the helm maybe this time they’ll be able to compete. However Rangers under Walter Smith will be looking to keep the title and progress further in Europe, however a few departures which may hurt the team in the long run shouldn’t affect the team that badly this year, whilst Celtic are strengthening in every department, in signing of Joe Ledley, Celtic have a good young player who will add something different to the side. Hopefully a team such as Hearts or Hibernian will FINALLY break in……..
Winning Prediction: Celtic – I dunno but I’m a hoops fan and I feel that this year Neil Lennon is going to have the right attitude towards the team and the fans.
Surprise of the Season – Any team other than Rangers and Celtic who finish in the top two will be a joy to watch.
With Holland reaching the World Cup finals this year, it should more draw attention to the Eredivse, however with Steve ‘wally with a brolly’ McClaren escaping to Germany, FC Twente’s hopes of securing back to back titles are incredibly slim. Ajax with there 104 goals last year should be contenders, led by World Cup surprise Luis Suarez, and despite strong interest from Fulham they managed to keep manager Martin Jol, however the they face tough competition. Meanwhile, former champions PSV look a shadow of their former selves and are outsiders to win the league title back.
Winning Prediction: Ajax, I can’t really see anyone else unless Suarez leaves and PSV sign one or three good players. FC Twente will be focused on Europe next year and the financial gains that it brings.
Surprise of the Season: This one is tough, but FC Twente are the ones to watch to, if only to see whether the work by Steve McClaren falls apart or is built upon.
With Inter Milan strolling through Serie A last season, one might think that a continued pattern could occur, however with local rivals AC Milan improving towards the end of the year, one might hope a closer race occurs this year. Juventus has shown a strong resurgence and Roma are always looking to crash a party. Combined with the national side’s poor showing at the world cup expect many players to be proving a point this year.
Winning Prediction: Inter Milan: Always been a fan of AC but I still feel the squad is too old to win major titles so my faith is going the blue half (never thought I’d say that) of Milan.
Surprise of The Season: Juventus: The old lady is coming back and she has a point to prove watch out for her to upset the title race and almost definitely have a final say in its outcome.
Tom Dobbyne is a contributor to “Sports With Henry” and throw’s his own spin and insight onto the world of Football. Follow him @TomDobbyne or on Facebook as English Tom.