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Friday, September 12, 2003
ESPNsoccernet: September 14, 5:47 PM UK
Team-by-team guide

Group A: Anderlecht | Bayern Munich | Celtic | Lyon
Group B | Group C | Group D | Group E | Group F | Group G | Group H


Anderlecht

Star Turn: Seol Ki-hyeon

The South Korean striker-cum-attacking midfielder was anything but an instant success at Anderlecht following a move from Antwerp in the summer of 2001, often cutting the figure of a lost soul during his first season with the Brussels club. But it was a completely different story last term, with Seol terrorising defences with his marksmanship, strength and speed.

Seol Ki-hyeon (AdamDavy/Empics)

Clearly, his confidence had been boosted by his part in South Korea's fairy tale 2002 World Cup. The 24-year-old was an ever-present as his nation surprisingly progessed all the way to the semi-finals, his finest moment coming when scoring in the second round victory over against Italy.

Amazingly he has never played in the South Korean League, joining Antwerp after completing his studies at from Kwangwoon University.

New Face: Par Zetterberg

After three largely unhappy years in Greece with Olympiakos, the skilful little Swedish playmaker jumped at the chance to return this summer to Anderlecht, the club where he started his professional career.

For most of the 1990s, Zetterberg was Anderlecht's main man, leading them to four domestic League titles and twice being named Footballer of the Year. It was at this time that he also earned himself a reputation for fair play, going eight seasons without a single booking.

A football purist, he refused to play for Sweden at Euro 2000 because of his distaste for the team's long-ball tactics.

One to Watch: Aruna Dindane

Runner-up in the Belgian Footballer of the Year poll for 2002, the Ivory Coast frontrunner is one of the most exciting young African prospects, constituting a major threat with his ability on the ball, speed, and willingness to take on defenders.

Another asset is his versatility. Anderlecht coach Hugo Broos has used him as an out-and-out striker, behind the front-two and as a right-winger. His one failing is a lack of discipline. He has a habit of retaliating and has subsequently become a marked man by referees in Belgium.

Tactics:

Coach Hugo Broos made a wise decision when he opted to ditch his 4-3-3 system in favour of 4-4-2 last season. The team looks much better balanced and they are not nearly so vulnerable to counter-attacks.

The form of twin-midfield creators Walter Bassegio and Par Zetterberg will be vital for Anderlecht, while Broos will be looking for major contributions from his trio of attacking-third stars, Nenad Jestrovic, Seol Ki-hyeon and Aruna Dindane, one of whom plays in a slightly withdrawn position.

Verdict: The days when Anderlecht were a force in Europe are long gone. An early bath awaits.


  • Bayern Munich
  • Star Turn: Michael Ballack

    Bought from Bayer Leverkusen in the summer of 2002 for a ridiculously low 4million fee, the midfield ace could do nothing to prevent his new club exiting the Champions League at the first hurdle last season but he did not allow the disappointment to weigh too heavily on him, subsequently inspiring Bayern to a Bundesliga and domestic Cup double.

    Recently voted the German Player of the Year for the second year in succession, he gives another dimension to both Bayern and the national team, one moment elegantly directing the midfield traffic, the next, stealing into goalscoring positions and finishing adroitly with either head or foot.

    He complained last term that Bayern were using him too deep and was fined for his trouble. But there can be little doubt that he has become a better all-round player since arriving at the Olympiastadion, adding discipline and consistency to his game and maturing into a real leader.

    New Face: Roy Makaay

    After close to three months of tough negotiations with Deportivo La Coruna, Bayern finally got their man in early August, agreeing to pay a club record 13.5million for the Dutch striker, who at the age of 28 is at the peak of his powers.
    Roy Makaay (StuartFranklin/GettyImages)

    The winner of the European Golden Boot last season thanks to 29 Spanish championship goals for Depor, the 28-year-old is the complete frontrunner: pacy, an intelligent mover off the ball and an explosive finisher with either foot. No wonder Bayern general manager Uli Hoeness said that the only thing he expected from Makaay was goals. Whether in the colours of first club Vitesse Arhem or Spanish sides Tenerife and Deportivo, he has never been off the score-sheet for long.

    Would have won many more than 23 caps for Holland if he had not been around at the same time as Bergkamp, Van Nistelrooy, Kluivert and Hasselbaink.

    One to Watch: Claudio Pizarro

    The Peruvian striker has hit the net regularly in the Bundesliga ever since parachuting in from Alianza Lima four years ago, first starrring for Werder Bremen and them moving to Bayern in a 6million deal in 2001.

    But these days there is so much more to him than cooly converting chances. Told in no uncertain terms by coach Ottmar Hitzfeld to up his work rate or face the axe, he has blossomed into a fine all-round attacker, one who tracks back tirelessly and is wholly involved in the team's approach play.

    Excellent in the air and boasting a fearsome right-foot shot, he scored one of the most memorable goals of last season, a brilliant solo effort in Bayern's Cup Final victory over Kaiserslautern.

    Tactics:

    An advocate of 4-4-2, boss Ottmar Hitzfeld says he has learnt the lesson of his team's early exit from last season's Champions League. He came to the conclusion that his team's approach was too adventurous and is now much more conservative in his thinking, making defensive solidity a priority, playing Michael Ballack deeper in central midfield and demanding that the second striker works back into midfield.

    Width is crucial to the Bayern scheme of things and they have it in spades: Bixente Lizarauzu and Ze Roberto on the left and Willy Sagnol and Hasan Salihamidzic on the right.

    Verdict: Anything less than a place in the last-four will be considred failure by the Bavarians.


  • Celtic
  • Star Turn: Henrik Larsson

    With 141 Scottish League goals to his credit since arriving at Parkhead in 1997 from Feyenoord, the prolific Swedish marksman is nothing less than a Hoops legend and in his last season in the green-and-white, he will be aiming to go out with a bang.
    Henrik Larsson (CliveBrunskill/GettyImages)

    The winner of the 2001 European Golden Boot courtesy of 35 strikes in 37 SPL games, he is a finisher of the highest order, a natural marksman who scores all manner of goals: tap-ins, blistering shots, chips, headers and the inavariably succesful one-on ones with the keeper.

    He is a gutsy individual too, as proved by the way he quickly battled back to full fitness following a horrific double leg break sustained in a UEFA Cup tie against Lyon in the 1999-00 season.

    New Face: Michael Gray

    Out of favour at relegated Sunderland, the left-back or left-sided midfielder recently agreed a four-month loan deal with Celtic.

    Sunderland-born, he made his first team debut for his hometown club back in November 1992 and in 11 seasons racked up more than 400 apperances, also serving as skipper.

    Won three caps for England in the late 1990s, but will always be remembered as the man who missed the decisive spot kick in Sunderland's penalty shoot-out loss to Charlton in the 1998 First Division play-off Final.

    One to Watch: Shaun Maloney

    Brilliant young striker who is the most exciting talent to emerge in Scotland for many a long year, earning comparisons with all-time Celtic great Kenny Dalglish.

    Technically outstanding, an excellent purveyor of free-kicks and deadly in front of goal, the diminutive 20-year-old oozes quality and is combative and determined into the bargain.

    Because he was born in Malaysia to English and Scottish parents and has a Welsh grandpaarent, he was eligible to play for four countries but opted to nail his colours to the Scotland mast. Berti Vogts can only thank his lucky stars.

    Tactics:

    Celtic boss Martin O'Neil favours a 3-5-2 formation. The considerable physical presence of Johan Mjallby, Bobo Balde and Joos Valgaeren make for a solid back-line; Paul Lambert and Neil Lennon provide the stability in the middle of the park; while the craft of the left-footed Alan Thompson and right-wing flyer Didier Agathe add a more expansive touch to the midfield.

    Up front, the Hoops rely on the time-honoured little and large combination: the power and aerial threat of Chris Sutton or John Hartson dovetailing with the electrifying bursts of Henrik Larsson. Stationed in the "hole" behind the strikers is highly-influential Bulgarian Stilian Petrov.

    Verdict: With their massive suport and die-hard attitude, the Bhoys can never be written off. Take them to go through with Bayern.


  • Lyon
  • Star Turn: Vikash Dhorasoo

    The 29-year-old midfielder was, in the eyes of many observers, the best player in the French League last season and without his sterling efforts, it is debatable whether the "Lyonnais" would have sealed their second straight title.

    Nimble on the ball, energetic and very quick over the first few yards, he is also versatility personified, equally comfortable as a defensive midfielder, out wide on either flank or as a central playmaker.

    Strangely, he has not played for France since 1999 and he is unlikely to be called up by national coach Jacques Santini in the near future. He and Santini had a bust-up at Lyon some three years ago and fences have yet to be mended.

    New Face: Giovane Elber

    There is no sentiment in football. Despite notching 21 goals last season for Bayern Munich and jointly-topping the German scoring charts, the veteran Brazilian found himself surplus to requirements following the arrival of Dutch hit-man Roy Makaay and after toying with the idea of joining Monaco, finally teamed up with Lyon in a 1.5million deal.
    Giovane Elber (StuForster/GettyImages)

    Elber certainly enjoyed his nine years in the Bundesliga, scoring 132 goals for Stuttgart and Bayern, whom he joined in 1997. But despite his ability as a predator and flair for the acrobatic finish, he was not always appreciated by his coaches who often bemoaned his inconsistency and lack of industry.

    No doubt that he will be out for revenge when Lyon come face-to-face with Bayern in the Champions League. His parting shot was that Bayern treated players like robots.

    One to Watch: Mickael Essien

    Coveted by a clutch of French and Premiership outfits, the highly-rated young Ghanaian midfielder seemed set to leave Corsican club Bastia for Paris Saint-Germain this summer, only to turn down them down at the last-minute and instead throw in his lot with Lyon.

    Reports that he is the "new Vieira" are not exaggerated. Though nominally a midfield enforcer, he has much more to his game. His distribution is excellent, his surging forward runs can switch defence into attack in a moment and he can shoot powerfully as well.

    First came to prominence as a member of the Ghana side which came runners-up to Argentina at the World Youth Cup in 2001.

    Tactics:

    Although Lyon have at times lined up in a 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 under coach Paul Le Guen, they are at their most effective in a 4-5-1. The system is not nearly as negative as it might seem. Wide men (Florent Malouda on the left and Sidney Govou on the right) closely support lone striker Giovane Elber, as does the advanced playmaker Eric Carriere. Even Lyon's two supposed defensive midfielders, Mickael Essien and Vikash Dhorasoo gallop forward whenever they have the chance.

    The big question concerning the back-four is whether Brazilian World Cup winner Edmilson can regain his place in central defence after being dropped in the latter part of last season. Le Guen thinks the ball-playing Edmilson takes too many risks and may continue to put his faith in the Swiss international Patrick Muller.

    Verdict: In each of the last two seasons, Lyon have failed to reach the Champions League second round. They could make it a hat-trick.


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