Since the UEFA Champions League is basically the NFL/Super Bowl here in the United States, I thought I’d compare the two competitions again this season (I did the same thing last year, which you can find here). 32 teams broken into eight groups, or divisions, culminating in a single game championship, these two events are the most watched sporting events in the world. By the way, these aren’t picks or predictions for the CL, (I’ll have those on Monday), but just a fun comparison.
Group A AFC North
Inter Milan(Italy) Baltimore
Werder Bremen(Germany) Pittsburgh
FC Twente(Holland) Cleveland
Inter Milan are a team built on a tremendous defense, but like the Ravens they also have some exciting options on offense. Werder Bremen will be without their star (Ozil), and while Pittsburgh will only be without Big Ben for a few weeks, both defenses are still top notch. Tottenham and Cincinnati both feature tons of quality players, but casual fans tend to overlook each team. FC Twente and the Browns are teams on the rise, but they have a ways to go to realistically challenge for a group/division title.
Group B AFC South
Olympique Lyon(France) Indianapolis
FC Schalke 04(Germany) Tennessee
Hapoel Tel-Aviv(Israel) Jacksonville
Lyon are still a top team, but like the Colts, the question is whether they can keep up with their sky high expectations? Benfica lost some talent, but as with the Texans their roster still contains some of the game’s best young players. Shalke and Tennessee have nice pieces on offense, but they both rely on stingy defense to win games. Hapoel Tel-Aviv and the Jaguars don’t look likely to challenge in their respective group/division.
Group C NFC West
Manchester United(England) San Francisco
Rangers FC(Scotland) Seattle
Bursaspor(Turkey) St. Louis
Man U is the class of Group C, just as San Fran is the clear top dog in the NFC West. Valencia lost David Villa and David Silva, while Arizona lost Anquan Boldin, Karlos Dansby and Kurt Warner, but each team is plenty talented to challenge. Rangers and Seattle are built on defense, and prefer low-scoring games to shootouts. If Bursaspor and St. Louis are even competitive it will be a shock.
Group D NFC East
FC Copenhagen(Denmark) New York
Rubin Kazan(Russia) Washington
If Dallas is America’s team, according to a recent report Barcelona is the World’s team, and both are star-studded and incredibly talented. Panathinaikos is green, Philadelphia is green, and that’s about it. FC Kobenhaven has good young talent, just like the Giants, but their defense is a question mark. Rubin Kazan and Washington could be surprises, and could both finish second if things go their way.
Group E NFC North
Bayern Munich(Germany) Green Bay
AS Roma(Italy) Minnesota
FC Basel(Switzerland) Chicago
CFR Cluj(Romania) Detroit
Exciting on offense, sometimes suspect on defense, Bayern Munich and Green Bay are a lot of fun to watch. AS Roma is lead by an aging Francisco Totti, while the Vikings are led by old-man Brett Favre. If either team can get enough help from their supporting casts, they could make some noise. FC Basel and Chicago can score, but are they consistent enough to challenge seriously. CFR Cluj and Detroit are just hoping to make some upsets, and they both have the players to do it.
Group F NFC South
Chelsea(England) New Orleans
Olymimpque Marseille(France) Atlanta
Spartak Moscow(Russia) Carolina
MSK Zilina(Slovakia) Tampa Bay
Chelsea may be the best team in the world right now, while you could say the same thing about the Saints. Olympique Marseille and Atlanta are both super talented, but they may not have the depth. Spartak Moscow, like Carolina, aren’t seen as contenders but each have some good players and are no walk-over. MSK Zilina and Tampa Bay won’t give much resistance to their competitors.
Group G AFC East
AC Milan(Italy) New England
Real Madrid(Spain) New York
Ajax Amsterdam(Holland) Miami
This is one of the most balanced groups in both the CL and NFL. AC Milan and New England have some older pieces, and while their defenses aren’t elite their offensive skill players are outstanding. Real Madrid and the Jets and big spenders, and for both fan bases anything less than a CL or Super Bowl appearance is unacceptable. Ajax and Miami are both teams with enough talent to win their group/division, but they are both very young and will need to grow up quickly to battle the big boys. Auxerre and Buffalo aren’t bad, but they aren’t great and they are in a tough situation.
Group H AFC West
Arsenal(England) San Diego
Shaktar Donetsk(Ukraine) Denver
SC Braga(Portugal) Oakland
FK Partizan(Serbia) Kansas City
This is the weakest group in the CL and the weakest divison in the NFL. Arsenal and San Diego are clearly the cream of the crop and should cruise to first place in their respective groups. Shaktar Donetsk and Denver can give opponents trouble, but they don’t have enough overall talent to really make you worry. SC Braga has been a huge surprise in CL qualification, and the Raiders could be a nice surprise in the AFC West if they can figure out their offense. FK Partizan and Kansas City will win a few games, but realistically fourth place is their likely destination.
About the Author
Written by Robert Bode
A sports die-hard through and through. I grew up playing almost every sport possible, and to this day I try to stay as active as possible. However, since I'm not a professional athlete, talking and writing about sports is the next best thing. A University of Florida graduate but living in my hometown of Washington D.C. (well Northern Virginia), my favorite teams are the Florida Gators, Miami Dolphins, Chicago White Sox, Washington Nationals, Real Madrid, good up-tempo NBA teams (so not the Knicks), and Washington Capitals.