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The Libero - Chelsea and Barcelona will be kings of 2010

Published: 13 Jan 2010 - 09:01:43

Admittedly this is a little late to be classed as a proper New Year list, but considering how badly the football programme has been hit by the recent inclement weather, a spot of tardy blogging amid the cancelled games, trains and planes can surely be forgiven.

So here we go with a look at what 2010 holds for the beautiful game, with few disturbances to the balance of power envisaged at international, domestic and European levels.

Spain's world beating form to continue

European champions Spain are in a fantastic position to build on their success in Austria and Switzerland in 2008 with victory in South Africa. Gone are the days of serial Spanish underachievement and there are now few, if any, weaknesses in Vicente Del Bosque's polished side.

Players of the calibre of Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Fernando Torres and David Villa are in the form of their lives and, with the possible exception of Brazil on a good day, there is no team on the planet who can match them at the moment.

And that means no fairytale for Fabio Capello's England

Under the Italian, the Three Lions' qualifying campaign was undoubtedly impressive and the improvement since their last, failed campaign has been marked. Capello has managed do achieve what Steve McClaren could not - he has earned the respect of his players.

England's so-called 'golden generation' finally look like they want to play for their coach and so far he has reaped the benefits of that. But his side are still not a patch on Spain, and they will likely struggle should they meet Brazil in South Africa.

The hype in the build-up to the tournament will be unbearable, but a third-place finish is probably the best England fans can expect.

Chelsea will win the Premier League

Domestically, it has been a rather topsy-turvy season so far - and all the better for it. All the top teams have showed a worrying, yet thrilling tendency to drop points when least expected, meaning a tight finish to the race can be expected, with both Chelsea and Manchester United sure to be involved.

Despite their blips, under Carlo Ancelotti Chelsea look a far better side than last season, and with United failing to convince on a regular basis, the Italian is in a great position to emulate Jose Mourinho in becoming a title winner in his first season in England.

The Big Four to remain intact

Despite the best efforts of Manchester City, Aston Villa and Tottenham to break up the top four cartel - and Liverpool's apparent attempts to break out of it - it is entirely conceivable the status quo will remain at the top of the Premier League table once the writing is on the wall in May.

Liverpool's early season form is no longer quite so dismal and with just five points between them and fourth place at the writing, Benitez's promise of Champions League football next season does not seem quite so outrageous.

Barcelona to win back-to-back Champions League titles

It's another non-controversial call to make but really, who else can match Pep Guardiola's slick outfit? They won everything there was to win in 2009 and it would take a brave man to bet against them retaining their Liga and Champions League crowns this time around.

Real Madrid will run them close in both competitions while the English contingent will do so in Europe, but Barca have the class and strength in depth to hold off their rivals and make it another year to remember in Catalonia.

READ THE LIBERO EXCLUSIVELY AT FOOTBALL.CO.UK EVERY WEDNESDAY

DSG


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FOOTBALL.CO.UK BLOGGER:the libero
Libero (noun): 1. Versatile, ball-playing defender given licence to roam. Expected to break up opposition attacks while instigating counters. Role patented by German legend Franz Beckenbauer. 2. Versatile weekly football columnist, aka journalist Mike Hytner, given licence to write what he likes. Expected to file every Wednesday. Not nearly as talented as his boyhood hero Der Kaiser.

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