With none of the big clubs looking self assured or dominant in their CL campaign so far, this could be the year of Les Girondins. They have dispatched Bayern and Juventus convincingly in a tough group. And they have done it with their set pieces and inventive midfield play led by Jaroslav Plaisil and Yoann Gourcuff.
Sure, Barca toyed with Inter in their destruction but Inter preserved their historic record of making everyone look good in the CL even as they pulverize the Serie competition. Chelsea seems to have no problems dispatching their opposition but when its Atletico who are permanent wastrels of talent and a toothless Porto without Lisandro Lopez it is easy pickings. Plus, there always seems to be that crucial slip up on the road to the title.
Arsenal look good but when the opposition is Standard Liege, AZ Alkmaar, and Olympiakos then it is prudent to hold off on predictions. As an Arsenal fan, our inconsistencies and defensive limitations continue to be a thorn as the stakes get bigger.
Real might pick up with Cristiano Ronaldo back in the squad but he also happens to be the reason why Man Utd will not challenge for this year's CL. Not to mention that Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic's defensive steel seems to be the lore of yesteryears. And Liverpool is out, a victim of Rafa's haphazard signings, bewildering squad rotations, and injury to key players. Milan seems to be overcompensating right now but one has to seriously doubt the viability of a group of older stars as the season wears on.
Bordeaux have a young side, naturally mobile and hungry. What makes it different is their organization and self awareness which I think comes from having a coach like Laurent Blanc.
Even with Gourcuff missing, the midfield driven by Jaroslav Plaisil, Wendel, and Gouffran were everywhere as they made inroads into Juve's vaunted defense led by Chiellini and Grosso. All held together admirably by Alou Diarra, whose muscular performance was one of the highlights. Maroaune Chamakh was a force as the Italians targeted him in a series of fouls, one which proved costly as Plaisil floated in a free kick that Fernando was able to head home before the half. Chamakh added to their tally in stoppage time as he took advantage of Juve's slack defending to buy his header. Their phenomenal success on set pieces has broken the back of the big two teams in their group.
Bordeaux remain the best team on display in these group stages. And if they can keep up the level of performance seen against Juve, their entry into the CL finals should not be a surprise.