Bet UEFA Champions League Group B
UEFA Champions League - Group B
|UEFA Champions League Groups|
|Group A||Group B|
|Group C||Group D|
The 2013/14 UEFA Champions League will be the 58th season of Europe's premier club football tournament and the 21st season in its current UEFA Champions League format. The Final of the 2014 UEFA Champions League will be played on -- May at the --- in ---, the home ground of ---- at --- local time.Group B: Real Madrid : Roma : Dynamo Kiev : Bayer Leverkusen
· Fourth in Spanish league
· Champions League pedigree: Winners 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1966, 1998, 2000, 2002
The Star Man - Ronaldo
Question marks remain over his weight and commitment to the cause yet this great Brazilian has enough ability to remain among the world's greatest strikers for a few years yet. Top scorer in the Spanish league last season with 24 goals, his pace and power makes him a potent weapon in this Madrid line-up and it says much about his importance to this side that his place is rarely under threat. The summer arrival of Michael Owen left the pundits wondering whether Ronaldo was on the way out, but Raul is more likely to make way than the Real No.9. That despite the fact the Spanish forward is still treated as deity at the Bernabeu.
The Weak Link - Defending
The summer signings of defenders Jonathan Woodgate and Walter Samuel confirmed a change in transfer policy from Real, as all their focus has been on snapping up star forwards in the past.
The thumping Champions League quarter-final reverse against Monaco last season may have forced Real President Florentino Perez, to concede his team needed to build a team and not just add a Galactico to his ranks every summer - conceding 54 league goals was an alarming statistic.
Both of the new boys were injured for the La Liga kick-off and stand-ins Raul Bravo and Pavon looked woeful, so Jose Antonio Camacho is putting plenty of faith in the Walter and Woody show.
The New Face - Michael Owen
Whether he was bought to sell a few extra shirts in Japan or to score goals for Real Madrid remains to be seen, but the England striker has his chance to prove he can be a hit on the pitch in Spain .
His close friend David Beckham, overcome similarly cynical publicity to make an instant impact after his arrival in Madrid during the summer of 2003 and Owen will be hoping he can follow in his footsteps.
The little forward has a prolific record in the English Premiership and at international level and if he can shake off the hamstring problems that have dogged him since the 1998 World Cup finals, Owen could be a success in Spain .
The Coach - Jose Antonio Camacho
A demanding coach who will not be willing to entertain too many over inflated egos among his Galactico, Camacho was a popular choice to replace the fumbling Carlos Queiroz.
Back at the club for another spell at the helm, the former Spanish national team boss is said to have put pressure on Real President Perez to give him the finances to strengthen his defence after a policy of buying attacking stars left the door blatantly open at the back. The arrivals of Woodgate and Samuel had Camacho's stamp all over them.
Employing a 4-4-2 formation with a fluid midfield and featuring the floating Zinedine Zidane, his primary selection dilemma will be settling on a chosen front two between Morientes, Owen, Raul and Ronaldo.
Verdict: Only a tenth Champions League crown will do, but they may be undone by a side with real attacking flair - Arsenal would fancy their chances against Real.
· Serie A runners-up
· Champions League pedigree: Runners-up 1984
The Star Man - Francesco Totti
Totti has much to prove after his disastrous Euro 2004 showing, when he sat out most of the tournament serving a three game ban for spitting at Denmark 's Christian Poulsen. His shaming at international level was tough to take for Roma's golden boy and he will be desperate to rebuild his reputation in the colours of his beloved club side this season. No one doubts that this glamorous attacking star has great natural ability, but at the age of 28, time is running out for him to achieve all he should in the game. Some have suggested that a move away from Roma would benefit his career, but the club's hierarchy dare not sell the long-term idol of the Giallorossi fanatics.
The Weak Link - The bank balance
Rudi Voller may be walking into a mine field at Roma as their well documented financial problems means they are a selling club just now.
The summer departures of key players Walter Samuel and Emerson was due, in part, to their desperation to raise finances and while they have managed to cling on to Totti and Antonio Cassano, their future is less than clear. If Voller needs to strengthen his squad during the January transfer window, he may struggle to get the financial backing he needs and by then, his Champions League campaign may already be over.
The New Face - Simone Perotta
A first choice for Italy during their doomed Euro 2004 effort, he scored in the Azzurri's final game against Bulgaria , but it was to count for little as the team returned home with their heads hanging low.
After that setback, Perrotta will be keen to make an instant impact at Roma after his ¬7.2m transfer from Chievo during the summer and Rudi Voller should warm to a character who always gives total commitment to the cause. The sort of battler any manager would want in his side.
The Coach - Rudi Voller
After Cesare Prandelli's shock decision to walk away from Roma before he took charge of a first team game, the return of Voller to Rome was greeted with delight by supporters who idolised him as a player and it will be fascinating to see how he manages to drain the best out of the players he has inherited.
Voller deserves his chance to take the reins of a major name in the game after an impressive spell in charge of his national team came to an end after Euro 2004. He worked a minor miracle in guiding a weak Germany side to the 2002 World Cup finals and his shrewd tactical acumen served him well in his first coaching role.
Employing a 4-4-2 formation for much of his reign as Germany manager, his coaching skills will be tested to the full as he tries his hand at club coaching.
Verdict: The last 16, but not much more.
· Ukraine champions
· Champions League pedigree: Semi-finalists: 1977, 1987, 1999
The Star Man - Maris Verpakovskis
Speedy, skilful, very aware striker largely responsible for Latvia 's qualification for Euro 2004, notching six vital goals, including the winner in Sweden and a brace in the 3-2 aggregate victory over Turkey in the play-offs. A potent threat on the counter-attack and a tireless worker for the team. The scorer of 22 Latvian League goals for Skonto Riga last season, he was linked with a move to Arsenal or Greek side Olympiakos, only to sign for Kiev in the January 2004 transfer window, agreeing to a five-year contract with the Ukraine champions.
Don't mention the name Verpakovskis to Wolves. They had him on loan in the summer of 2003 but opted not to offer him a deal.
The Weak Link - The Midfield
In Kiev 's usual 4-5-1 system, the midfield is crammed with silky technique and versatility, with players interchanging positions at will. However, an often heard criticism of this part of the Kiev side is that they do not hurt opponents, that they are not direct enough.
A multi-national quintet featuring the Belarussian Valentin Belkevich, the Croat Jerko Leko, Romanians Tiberiu Ghioane and Florin Cernat and Diogo Rincon from Brazil weave pretty patterns. But do not play the killer through ball too often. Attacks flow nicely until they reach the opposition penalty area, then all tends to break down.
Another complaint is that the Kiev midfield is short on muscle and resistance, that they can be easily outfought. The incorporation of the experienced Andrii Husin would go along way to beef up this sector but he cannot do it alone.
The New Face - Rodolfo
Extremely talented young Braziilan central defender bought this summer from Rio de Janeiro outfit Fluminense. The smart money had been on the 21-year-old moving to Champions League holders FC Porto but Kiev emerged from nowhere to snap him up.
It is easy to see why the youngster has been receiving rave reviews for his performances in the Brazilian championship. Not only is he a very efficient defender, strong in the air, a fierce tackler and with great powers of recovery; he is also polished technically and accomplished at bringing the ball out of defence.
Considered a certainty to be called up by the senior Brazilan side in a not-too distant future, he has experience playing in midfied too and can dribble, shoot and cross with best. A potential superstar.
The Coach - Joszef Szabo
Veteran boss recalled for a second spell in charge of Kiev after Olexiy Mikhailichenko was fired folowing defeat by Trabzonspor in the first-leg of the final qualifying round. Szabo knows how to bring success to Dynamo, winning four Ukraine league titles and a domestic Cup in the mid-1990s.
Of Hungarian stock, Szabo began his coaching carer in the early 1970s at Zorya Lugansk, and has also taken charge of SKA Kiev, Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk and the Ukraine national team.
An outstanding midfielder during his playing days, he spent eleven season at Dynamo Kiev (1959-1969) and also played for Zorya Lugansk and Dynamo Moscow. A key man in the USSR side which came fourth at the 1966 World Cup finals in England .
Verdict: Will need to improve considerably to survive in the competition until the New Year.
· Third in the Bundesliga.
· Champions League Pedigree: Runners-up 2002.
The Star Man - Dimitar Berbatov
The Bulgarian striker was once infamous for blowing hot and cold, for missing as many chances as he converted. But last season all that changed, with Berbatov suddenly losing the tendency to fluff his lines in the box. Forms a lethal partnership up front with the Brazilian Franca. A frontrunner of pace and good movement, he left first club Pirin Blagoyevgrad for CSKA Sofia for a laughable £12 in 1997; three years and a string of exceptional displays later, Leverkusen paid £1.7 million for him.
Made his full international debut as an 18-year-old against Greece in November 1999 and to date has scored 18 goals in 33 national team appearances. The reigning Bulgarian Footballer of the Year.
The Weak Link - Defence and Keeper
How Leverkusen could use the sort of hard-as-nails libero that their coach Klaus Augenthaler used to be in his playing days. The sale of Lucio to Bayern Munich has left the Rhinelanders with a large hole in their back-line and it is a matter of debate whether new Brazilian central defender Roque Junior - hardly the most convincing during recent spells at AC Milan, Leeds United and Siena - is the man to fill it.
Leverkusen also have a problem with central defensive organiser and captain Jens Nowotny. He has been plagued by knee ligament trouble in the last couple of years and many wonder if he wil soon call time on his career. While Brazilian centre-back Juan is from the top-drawer, Argentine left-back Diego Placente is not the most reliable defensively. The broken leg suffered by young left-back Clemens Fritz represented another setback.
The days when keeper Hans-Jorg Butt was regularly in the German squad have long gone and it is not hard to see why. His concentration can wander and though his reactions are fine, some hesitancy has crept into his game.
The New Face - Paul Freier
German national team right-winger bought for £1.8 million from Bundesliga rivals Bochum . He is in many respects an old-fashioned flank operator, fast, cunning and direct. Likes to cut inside on occasion and strike at goal. Tracks back well too.
Made his international debut against Kuwait in May 2002 but was not selected for that summer's World Cup. Would have been included in the squad for Euro 2004 but again his luck was out, straining knee ligaments in a pre-tournament friendly and forced to pull out.
Now in his fourth season as a professional, he joined Bochum from BSV Menden in 1996. Of Polish origin.
The Coach - Klaus Augenthaler
The 46-year-old former German international sweeper knows all about life at the top in German football. After all, he played in over four hundred Bundesliga games for Bayern Munich over 14 years, helping the Bavarian club claim seven League titles.
An uncompromising, blunt character, who will never use several sentences if a single word will do, he began his managerial career with Bayern's youth team and went on to serve as an assistant coach with the first team. Later took charge of Grazer AK in Austria and Nurnberg before moving to Leverkusen late in the 2002-03 season, pulling them out of the relegation mire.
Won 27 caps for West Germany and the reunified nation, notably featuring in their World Cup-wining team of 1990.
Verdict: Will do well to qualify from a group which also contains Real Madrid and Roma.
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