Betfred Sport

Europe – A new season to look forward to with anticipation

Whilst transfer speculation is higher than ever after a memorable season of football across Europe, there is a lot you can already start preparing for next season.

Paris Saint Germain and Malaga have both succeeded where Manchester City failed by achieving Champions League qualification in their first full season following significant investment from new owners.

As soon as Manchester City managed that, a new breed of players could be attracted - the likes of Sergio Aguero suddenly had an added incentive to live in England.

It’s believed PSG and Malaga are even richer than Manchester City - so think what they could achieve.

I expect Malaga to be challenging Barcelona and Real Madrid for the title next season, something which could add a new dimension to La Liga.

PSG let their Ligue One title slip away. It was in their hands, but like Manchester United they failed in the vital weeks.

However, both PSG and Malaga can attract players already being linked with them such as Kaka from Real Madrid, and both can go on to build really exciting squads now.

I'd be rude not to mention Montpellier, who will embrace the Champions League along with PSG.

Montpellier remain to be an enigma - they have John Utaka as a key player, who was let go by Portsmouth having failed to succeed at either the Premier League nor Championship level.


Other players are likely to be poached from bigger clubs offering much bigger salaries.

It will be interesting to see what their new-found success brings in terms of the next phase of players in the south of France.

What a season Juventus have had, and what a rise to power they have had again.

It is less than a decade since the shambolic match-fixing scandal which saw them relegated and shamed around the globe.

Unbeaten all season in Serie A, Juventus did not have the distraction of playing in European competitions - which suggests they need to add significantly to the squad, and the wheel is already turning.

They have spending power, something not always associated with Italian football.

They have already let Alessandro Del Piero say his goodbyes, whilst Marco Boriello was only on loan from Roma.

There are spaces freeing up, particularly upfront as they will seek a world-class striker who can get them a 30 goals a season - something their top scorer Alessandro Matri, failed to do, only managing 10.

Juventus will be a force to be reckoned with in Europe next season.

Continued growth 

Borussia Dortmund continue to grow - they won the Bundesliga for a second season and thrashed Bayern Munich 5-2 to win the German Cup.

Jurgen Klopp wants to stay on for bigger and better things, and having tasted the Champions League for the first time in well over a decade last season, he will want to get through the group stage and make a statement.

Whilst their team could be picked apart by the big spenders across Europe, they will still be able to invest that money elsewhere and attract big talents.

Anzhi Makhachkala are a team always in the transfer speculation columns of newspapers, but finally you will be able to see them in action should they get through a Europa League qualifier.

They are supposedly the world's richest club in terms of their ownership, with Samuel Eto'o their most notable coup so far.

They have Europa League ambitions and high salaries available, so maybe a few high profile names will head over there.

They will surely be seen in the Europa League next season, and if you are Tottenham or Newcastle, you don't fancy a trip there.

Galatasaray are a side to keep an eye on. In a time where Turkish football has struggled because of match-fixing scandals and violence, Galatasaray have been a breath of fresh air.

They are well backed by the owners who have helped them regain the Turkish League title.

The return of Galatasaray 

Make no mistake about it, Galatasaray are back. Last season’s investment took a few known players from the Premier League.

They removed the old guard such as Harry Kewell, and brought in fresh faces such as Emmanuel Eboue and Johan Elmander.

Put it this way, you still do not want an away trip to Galatasaray.

Just imagine your side’s Champions League group next season - PSG and Malaga could buy anyone, yet they are unlikely to be seeded.

There would be no reason why you could not end up with Real Madrid, Arsenal, PSG and Malaga or Barcelona, Juventus, Galatasaray, Chelsea - and so on.

It is getting that competitive now, and depends on the qualifiers and seedings, particularly with the likes of Arsenal finishing third or fourth each season, and Chelsea qualifying as champions.

With Borussia Dortmund now joined by Juventus, PSG, Malaga and Galatasaray in returning to the big time next season, every Champions League game will be a six-pointer and potential knock-out match.

There are so many teams competing to win titles in their respective countries now.

Bring on the 2012/2013 season now!

By James Townsend

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