Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'Forget the Cream of the Capital, Real Will Rule Europe'; Chelsea Old Boy Marcel Desailly Dismisses Challenge of Former Club and Arsenal as He Tips Spaniards for Glory. EXCLUSIVE

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'Forget the Cream of the Capital, Real Will Rule Europe'; Chelsea Old Boy Marcel Desailly Dismisses Challenge of Former Club and Arsenal as He Tips Spaniards for Glory. EXCLUSIVE

Article excerpt

Byline: Simon Johnson

[bar] ARCEL DESAILLY knows all about the capital's long wait to see one of their teams crowned champions of Europe. Unfortunately, he sees no end to London's frustration this season.

England's only surviving representatives, Chelsea and Arsenal, have been showing the kind of form which means they are looking forward with confidence to the Champions League draw for the last 16 in Nyon tomorrow.

With the pair having finished top of their groups, there is only AC Milan and Napoli to cause them genuine concern in the pot of potential opponents who progressed as runners-up.

Many suspect if they avoid those two, a place in the last eight is virtually assured and then anything is possible. Desailly, however, feels such optimism is misplaced.

The former Chelsea captain is adamant two clubs from the same country will battle it out for the trophy in Munich next May but they will come from Spain.

Despite the presence of sides such as Inter Milan and Bayern Munich, Desailly believes holders Barcelona and their fierce rivals Real Madrid are in a league of their own.

He told Standard Sport: "It's obvious that, for most people, Barcelona are the favourites again and Madrid are up there with them. We have seen how high they can bring the level of play.

"There are no other names in contention. These are the two teams who should win it. If they don't meet before, they will decide the final."

The majority of pundits don't even see it as a two-horse race such is the expertise of Barcelona, who swept Manchester United aside with ease in the final last May. They also appear too strong for Real, having beaten them in the semi-finals in April and secured a convincing 3-1 victory at the Bernabeu in La Liga on Saturday.

Yet Desailly is adamant Jose Mourinho's team will come out on top. He said: "It really is the year of Madrid for me rather than Barcelona. I've followed their play during the season and I just think 'wow'. Tactically, technically it is just amazing. I still rate Barcelona highly but Madrid are at their level, too, despite what happened on Saturday.

"Everyone is used to Barcelona's type of play and Madrid use a different style, they are more direct when attacking the goal -- one, two, three passes with speed and they have young strikers to take advantage up front. The team, the squad are amazing.

"The way the players have the hunger for victory is huge. It is not because of Mourinho, it is coming from within.

"They are top-class players and they are angry because they didn't get anything last season. Now they are really looking forward to trophies."

It was not long ago that UEFA were concerned the Premier League was becoming too dominant in Europe as United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool regularly got to the latter stages of the competition. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.