The 2009-10 campaign is beginning. Here are your top 10 things to watch this season:
10) Ronaldinho Revival?: AC Milan insist that their club is in no danger following the loss of Kaka to Real Madrid. Rossonerri officials claim that Ronaldinho is due to take over his countryman’s old roles. Ronny has not lost his magic, but rather any desire it seems over the past two years. Could this year be a revival for the two time FIFA World Player of the Year?
9) Testing Year for Managers: This year looks to be a test for several of Europe’s biggest managers. 1) Can Sir Alex, facing his biggest challenge in recent years, overcome the loss of his best player and live up to his status as the world’s best manager? 2) Arsene Wenger finds his depleted club’s Big Four status being challenged, a drop that would be devastating. 3) And while there is a short leash on managers these days, Jose Mourinho faces the task of winning the Champions League with Inter Milan, a trophy he was solely brought in to win.
8) Landon Donovan: Like his Galaxy teammate (see #6), Donovan may be leaving Los Angeles following the MLS season. He has expressed his desire to play with a top club in Europe and if there has ever been a time for him, it is now.
7) Americans Abroad: Onyewu and Altidore: Oguchi Onyewu and Jozy Altidore have been the highlights of American soccer during the summer transfer window. Onyewu has signed on with Italian giant AC Milan, the biggest club for an American field player ever. And Altidore, perhaps America’s most promising talent, hopes to ply his trade in the Premier League as a first team regular with Hull City.
6) David Beckham: Obviously unsatisfied in Los Angeles and keen to represent England in South Africa next summer, David Beckham looks to be returning to Europe following the conclusion of the MLS season. Will he return to AC Milan? He has also been linked with Tottenham and Chelsea.
5) World Cup Draw: On December 4, we will have the draw for the biggest sporting event in the world. This discussion should give me a good six months of material.
4) Ronaldo Re-born: Look for Ronaldo to be better than ever this season. While quite good last year, the Portuguese winger was clearly unhappy in Manchester (as reports now suggest his Madrid transfer was agreed last summer). Finally settled where he wants to be, Ronaldo will be more motivated than ever to shine wearing the kit of his boyhood club.
3) Big Four No More?: It seems preposterous to suggest such a thing, but many argue that if ever, this year is the year. Manchester City have enjoyed an enormous spending spree this summer (which is still not finished may I add), and entering the season they field a scary-good squad. Coincidentally, Arsenal find themselves weak with an injury-prone line-up and no summer reinforcements. England also find themselves with a de-strengthened top four, setting up for a more level table. How opportunistic for City.
2) Lionel Messi vs. Christiano Ronaldo: The two best players in the world are now in the same league on separate teams in football’s biggest rivalry. Brilliant.
1) Barcelona vs. Real Madrid (See Below)