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"Athletic Bilbao is more than a football club, it is a feeling - and as such its ways of operating often escape rational analysis. We see ourselves as unique in world football and that defines our identity.
Manchester United legend Paul Scholes is of the opinion that Real Madrid has left themselves vulnerable to defend their Champions League title by selling midfielders Xabi Alonso and Angel Di Maria and opened the door to an English winner. Carlo Ancelotti's side are aiming to be the first team for 25 years to retain the European Cup, but Scholes does not think their transfer activity this summer has made them any stronger.
Real Madrid moved straight to the top of Group B with a win over woeful Basle and Cristiano Ronaldo moved to within three goals of Raul's all-time Champions League scoring record. This was not Real Madrid rediscovering the swagger that saw them brush aside Bayern Munich in last season's semi-final and beat Atletico Madrid 4-1 in the final but they still had far too much for last season's Swiss Champions.
Liverpool's return to Champions League action for the first time in five years and Real Madrid's shaky start to the season dominate the start of the new battle for the elite European title on Tuesday. Liverpool take on surprise Bulgarian team Ludogorets Razgrad, while defending champions Real clash with Switzerland's Basel in the key matches of the first day.
The Champions League is back -- but do you know who the rising stars of this year's competition are likely to be? CNN asked one of Europe's leading scouting experts, Tor-Kristian Karlsen, to give us his top five young players to watch out for in this season's competition. "Barcelona's attacking midfielder Halilovic, who made his full international debut Croatia at the age of 16, is currently playing for the Catalan club's B side but is expected to make his way into the first team this season.
In a top ten that is in absolutely no way connected to Diego Costa's formidable start at Chelsea, we look at strikers who began brightly but rapidly faded out... Of course we want to see Messi and Ronaldo, but we're a little more intrigued by the likes of Xabi Alonso and Shinji Kagawa. We have ten reasons to be Euro excited... After breaking through the painfully slow international break, David Bowers has ten reasons to tingle at the return of the Premier League... 10) Collins John Chris Coleman paid 600,000 to bring 18-year-old Dutch striker Collins John to his ambitious Fulham side in January 2004.
The Portuguese, who cost Real Madrid a then world record 80m in 2009, has made no secret of his continued affection for Old Trafford After all the stunning signings made to herald the Louis Van Gaal era, the return of one man would confirm Manchester United really are back. Even during the Dutchman's emphatic first win on Sunday, the Stretford End sang about the superstar they would most like to see at Old Trafford: "Get on the plane, bring him back from Spain, Viva Ronaldo."
Ahead of Tuesday's opening group games in Europe's biggest club competition, we take you through everything you need to know. Can Real Madrid retain its title? Will Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi break the goalscoring record? Can Jose Mourinho win with a third different club? All will be revealed on June 6 in Berlin, but here's the guide to who, what, where and when -- it's the Champions League and it's back.
GUARDING THE NET: Goalkeeper Iker Casillas throws the ball during Real Madrid practice ahead of their Champions League group stage opener against Basel. Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti believes Tuesday's Champions League Group B opener at home to Basel will be a good chance for the holders to put a poor start to their domestic campaign behind them.
Of course we want to see Messi and Ronaldo, but we're a little more intrigued by the likes of Xabi Alonso and Shinji Kagawa. We have ten reasons to be Euro excited... After breaking through the painfully slow international break, David Bowers has ten reasons to tingle at the return of the Premier League... After a long old summer there are plenty of gloomy fans around at the close of the transfer window.
Former Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon has claimed that Cristiano Ronaldo is "fed up" at the club, fuelling rumours that the Portuguese superstar could be on his way out of the Spanish capital. Calderon, who was the club president for two-and-a-half years between 2006 and 2009, has insisted that the Madrid No.
The group stages of the Champions League return to our lives on Tuesday, with plenty of surprises in store in the 2014/15 edition. There are bound to be heroes and villains who will be established over the next eight months in the run-up to the Berlin final, but what about the things that we can predict will happen? After failing to defend their crown last season, a refocused Bayern Munich will emerge better and stronger in the new campaign, and they will win the trophy in the German capital to keep alive the football feel-good factor in the country less than a year after the national side won the World Cup.
The Champions League group stages get underway this week, as 32 teams begin on the long road towards next May's final in Berlin. The usual suspects will have strong ambitions of following in Real Madrid's footsteps and becoming champions of Europe, but there are bound to be a number of surprises and upsets along the way.
New Liverpool star Alberto Moreno has revealed what Xabi Alonso told him before moving to the Reds midway through August. The 22-year-old left-back was heavily linked with a move to Anfield throughout the summer and after more than six weeks of negotiations, signed with the Merseysiders after Sevilla's Super Cup defeat to Real Madrid.
According to a report in Italy, Real Madrid have joined the race to sign alleged Manchester United target Kevin Strootman . The Netherlands international has been widely tipped to be Louis van Gaal's top midfield target, with some reports claiming a January transfer is not beyond the realms of possibility.
Updated: Wed Sep 17, 2014 08:07 am
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