Don’t miss the excitement with Brazil’s Atletico Mineiro and Germany’s Bayern Munich among other confederations champions fighting for the right to officially be crowned as the world’s best team. It is happening in Morocco with the show starting on Wednesday, December 11, 2013 and ending on Saturday, December 21, 2013.
There will be a host of stars to looking forward to. This includes Ronaldinho who has set his mind on making Brazil’s World Cup 2014 squad. The former Barcelona midfielder will be looking to win over the confidence of coach Luiz Felipe Scolari as well as supporters worldwide by putting up a great show in Morocco.
Preview: Depleted Bayern taking on Robin Dutt’s incompetent Bremen
Bayern lost Arjen Robben to injury for six weeks against Augsburg in midweek in the DFB Pokal. Franck Ribery however returned and is set to play again. Philipp Lahm jogged this week while Claudio Pizarro and Xherdan Shaqiri seem prepared to come back onto the pitch as well.
Bremen fans may long for the days of Johann Micoud and later Miroslav Klose but those days are firmly in the past. Thomas Schaaf’s quiet exit last season was almost a mirror of the situation of the club itself. Quietly, Bremen has slipped down the table season after season and is now a relegation contender. They were humiliated by Bayern in their previous meeting; the Bavarians laughed their way to a 6-1 win. It is easy to forget that a Bremen side spearheaded by Mesut Özil had humiliated Bayern 2-5 in 2008.
Preview: Is another tense derby on the horizon?
Bayern has put away most opponents with little trouble this season. Their results have progressively improved against Augsburg. In their final meeting in the 2010-11 season, Bayern beat Augsburg 2-1. The first meeting of the 2011-12 season finished 2-1 as well in favor of the European Champions. They went on to beat Augsburg 0-2 in the DFB Pokal and won their next meeting in the league 0-2.Both meetings in the current calendar years concluded with 3-0 home wins at the Allianz Arena.
In the most recent meeting, Jerome Boateng opened the scoring with a superb goal from a very narrow angle. Franck Ribery added the second from a free-kick. Thomas Müller added a gloss on the score when he converted a penalty in the 90th minute. One of the scorers from that day, Ribery's availability will depend on a late fitness test. Bastian Schweinsteiger, captain Philipp Lahm, Claudio Pizarro, Xherdan Shaqiri and Holger Badstuber will all be unavailable though. For Augsburg, Panagiotis Vlachodimos is starting to recover from tendon problems. Dominik Reinhardt has a hand injury. Jan-Ingwer Callsen Bracken and Jan Moravek are doubtful for the match.
Preview: Pep Guardiola wary of a Bayern upset
FC Bayern barely have enough players to compete for spots in the lineup. Bastian Schweinsteiger, Claudio Pizarro, Xherdan Shaqiri, Franck Ribery and Holger Badstuber are out for this one. In midweek, Philipp Lahm added himself to the injury list when he hurt his thigh. He has been ruled out for the next two matches at least. Bayern made little work of CSKA Moskva in midweek.
They put three past the Russians in a clinical display. The defense did not have a good day but Manuel Neuer did. Keisuke Honda had a few chances to score but did not take them. Eventually, a handball by Dante resulted in a rather harsh penalty decision. Honda halved the deficit from the spot; Arjen Robben and Mario Götze had earlier given Bayern a 0-2 lead. A few minutes after Honda’s penalty, Robben earned Bayern a penalty at the opposite end which Thomas Müller converted.
Preview: A Rather Arduous Task for the holders in the Arena Khimki
Russia, as most football viewers and most weather personnel are aware of, is most unwelcoming at this time of the year. The snow is as frequent as Dortmund’s counterattacks. Pep Guardiola cancelled his side’s final training session due to an attack by snow on their training ground. Nonetheless, Bayern does not want the snow and the freezing temperatures to hamper their ambitions. If they win in Russia, they will break a record they themselves and Barcelona host jointly – most consecutive wins in the Champions League. Currently, the record stands on nine wins.
Preview: A case of "Bayern Dusel"?
Jürgen Klopp’s grey hairs are at an all-time high. Tactics are perhaps not exactly his concern at this point. He has to find a back line to field first. Lukasz Piszczek is only starting to regain match fitness following hip surgery after the Champions League finale. Marcel Schmelzer succumbed to injury in his country’s friendly against England and is set to miss out along with Mats Hummels, who is set to be out for the rest of the year. Neven Subotic is out for the entire season.
As far as the midfield is concerned, Ilkay Gündogan, who was also injured in a friendly, is still out. Returning to the defense, the injuries prompted Klopp to sign the former Leverkusen defender, Manuel Friedrich for the whole season. Friedrich has not played competitively this season. Whether he is match fit is a big question.
Preview: Bayern primed to take the honors and keep Bundesliga table top spot
FC Bayern München has not lost a Bavarian derby in almost even years now. The final derby of the past season is a memory which the Bavarians surely store with plenty of fondness. Bayern was presented the shield they longed for that day. They struggled to get out of the blocks on Match-day 33 in the midst of May. It took a Bayern side filled with confidence 69 minutes to finally find the back of the net. Rather unsurprisingly, it was Thomas Müller who did so in classic Raumdeuter fashion.
Ahead of this meeting, question marks remain over whether Müller will start; this is down to his poor form of late rather than injuries. The department of health (and injuries) at Bayern has been inundated this season. Bastian Schweinsteiger joined in recently; he is set to have ankle surgery to be able to play “completely free of pain” by his own admission.
Preview: Bayern to secure qualification with a win over Czech side
The Bavarians will make a huge step in sealing qualification to the Round of 16 if they manage to win their next match against Viktoria Plzen. The German outfit are six points clear of third placed CSKA Moscow and can stretch the difference even further if Manchester City deny the Russian side of any points on Tuesday.
Pep Guardiola will be looking for a better performance from his side after being put to test by ninth placed Hoffenheim in their last league outing. 18 year old Niklas Sule opened the scoring for the hosts, before a Franck Ribery free kick equalised the scores.
Preview: Bayern look to regain one point lead at the top of the Bundesliga table
FC Bayern München will look to bring down Hoffenheim when they travel to the Rhein Neckar Arena for a Saturday afternoon duel. Pep Guardiola will be without the injured Xherdan Shaqiri and Claudio Pizarro.
In his previous match, he had to make a double substitution in the first half due to suspected injuries. The victims, Toni Kroos and Arjen Robben, are both both deemed doubtful for this encounter. However, Guardiola does not seem convinced enough to risk them in this one.
Preview: Bayern to relish in Hertha Berlin encounter
Defending champions Bayern Munich will be hoping to continue their ravishing start to the season when they take on fourth placed Hertha Berlin. Even though the last year’s treble winners have been nothing short of mesmerising, their Spanish coach Pep Guardiola has insisted that his side can get even better.
"We have to get better at set pieces. We often have many, many players in the middle and none on the sides. We can always get better. It would be boring if everything was perfect now,” said Guardiola after the match against Viktoria Plzen.
Preview: Bavarians poised to make it three wins out of three
The German giants top Group D having won both their matches in a dominant fashion. A 3-0 mauling of CSKA Moscow was followed by a 3-1 drubbing of English side Manchester City. With City and CSKA unable to undermine the supremacy of last year’s treble winners, Viktoria Plzen are expected to be served the same fate.
Dutch star Arjen Robben will be looking for his sixth consecutive goal in Europe, if he succeeds in doing so he will be the fourth player to have achieved the feat, with Marouane Chamakh, Burak Yilmaz and Cristiano Ronaldo having done the same previously.
Preview: Bavarians looking to extend lead at the top
With Borussia Dortmund dropping points before the international week with a loss to Borussia Mönchengladbach, Guardiola’s men pounced at their rivals’ misfortune to go on top of the league with a 1-1 draw against Bayer Leverkusen.
Bayern remain undefeated in the league and their draw against Leverkusen was only the second time Die Roten dropped points in the league this season.
With players returning back from their respective injuries, Pep Guardiola has an almost fully fit squad to his expense with a host of world class players vying for limited positions, something the Spanish tactician is eagerly looking forward to.
Preview: Leverkusen looking to cause an upset at the expense of Bayern Munich
The home side will be aiming to repeat the antics of last season when they defeated Bayern Munich 2-1 at the Allianz Arena courtesy of goals from Stefan Kießling and Sidney Sam both of whom have been in incredible form this season and share 10 goals among each other in the league.
Leverkusen will be brimming with confidence having scored a 2-1 victory over Real Sociedad and will be hoping to translate their midweek performance on Saturday when they meet the German champions.
Preview: City looking to make a statement in Europe with good performance
After two consecutive pre-mature exits from the Champions League which saw them unable to advance through from the group stages, City will be looking to improve their record this time around. With the squad the Citizens have on hand, especially the plethora of attacking talent one must say that Manchester City should cruise their way to the next round.
City now have at helm a proven tactician in Manuel Pellegrini who has reveled in European competitions in the past having done reasonably well with both Villarreal and Malaga during his spells at the Spanish clubs and now the Chilean will be aiming to repeat his antics with Manchester City, whose owners are quite desperate to establish their club as a European powerhouse and have made all sorts of investments for their goals to be achieved.
Preview: Mario Gotze likely to make return for Bavarians
After missing almost a month of action, star summer signing Mario Gotze could finally return to the fold. The young German suffered an ankle injury during the UEFA Super Cup win against Chelsea but returned to full training this week and could feature at some point in the game.
Although he did not feature in Wednesday’s 4-1 thumping in the DFB Pokal of Hannover, the former Borussia Dortmund star might return to the substitutes’ bench.
Preview: Pep Guardiola looking to continue Bayern’s undefeated run
The Bavarians have had a blitzing start to the season and are currently undefeated in the last nine matches in all competitions they have played under new manager Pep Guardiola.
After losing his first competitive match as Bayern coach to title rivals Borussia Dortmund in the DFL-Supercup match, the Spanish tactician has not looked back and has gone on a devastating undefeated run which has seen the Bavarians thrash one opponent after the other.
Preview: Bayern looking to avoid any upsets in away trip to Gelsenkirchen
The defending champions will face a difficult challenge as they face Jens Keller’s men who have not conceded in three consecutive matches. Strengthened by the arrivals of Kevin-Prince Boateng and Ádám Szalai, Die Königsblauen will be looking to put a strong performance against the Bavarians in order to push for a Champions League place this season.
The squad has further benefited from the development of Schalke’s youth product Julian Draxler, who is starting to show why he has been so highly regarded and some fine displays in recent outings has made him one of the most important players in the squad.
Preview: Bayern begin title defence against Russian Champions
The Bayern side led by the legendary Jupp Heynckes won a historical treble last season which they rounded off with a victory over rivals Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League final at Wembley.
Whereas incoming Pep Guardiola will find it difficult to repeat the feat, he will be hoping to make Bayern the only German side to retain the Champions League crown.
English teams to be fierce competitors
After disappointing in the Champions League last season, every English side playing in the competition will be eager to make amends and all of these sides have strengthened their squad very well. It is Manchester City and Chelsea who let their intentions know during the summer transfer window. Both cash-laden sides have brought in players who have all the talent in the world to make sure that their respective sides go far in the competition.
Though they have been miserly this summer, Manchester United and Arsenal will also be eager to avoid ending their European journey early on in the campaign.
Preview: Bayern Munich relishing the prospect of another goal frenzy
After securing their first piece of silverware of the season in the shape of the UEFA Super Cup in which they beat Chelsea, Pep Guardiola’s start to life in Germany has been quite decent to say the least. However, things might not be that easy in the league considering the fact that the reigning German champions dropped valuable points when they were held to a 1-1 draw by Freiburg in their last league outing.
Swiss international, Xherdan Shaqiri had given his team the lead only to see Nicolas Hofler score late on in the game to hand Freiburg their second draw of the season.