bristol-iain's Heineken Cup Preview

Discussion in 'European Champions & Challenge Cup' started by bristol-iain, Oct 6, 2009.

  1. bristol-iain

    bristol-iain Guest

    Europe's premier club competition is here again for it's 15th incarnation. 24 clubs from 6 different countries will all hope that this year will be the year for them to lift the trophy in Paris next May.

    The action kicks off this coming Friday with Ulster, who won the tournament in 1999, hosting Bath who put their name on the cup the previous season at Ravenhill, the game will be the firs of 9 potential games for the teams to play if they are going to reach the final.

    So, which sides are likley to make it to the Final, which sides will spring a surprise and which sides will flatter to decieve in the next few months. I will put forward my thoughts on the tournament and you can agree or, more likley disagree.

    Pool 1:

    Treviso, Munster, Northampton, Perpingan


    At first glance this Pool looks a two horse race with Northampton and Munster the obvious favourites to challenge for the top spot. Treviso won't pose a threat and will enjoy the experience but should look to impress while playing. Don't rule out Perpingan who, like all the French teams, will be a difficult prospect, especially in the South of France. Momentum is key and the first fixture between Northampton and Munster could be the key to who tops the pool.

    Pool Winner- Northampton
    Runners Up - Munster

    Pool 2:

    Biarittz, Glasgow, Gloucester, NG Dragons


    This pool will spring the first surprise. Glasgow will have a lot of confidence after an impressive showing in both the Magners League and in last years Heineken Cup and can, and probably should look for a runners up spot as a minimum. Biarittz and Gloucester will fight it out over top spot but, if Glasgow do spring the shock I do think that Gloucester, who have had an indifferent start to the Guiness Premiership, could find themselves out of the tournament in the group stage.

    Winner- Biarittz
    Runners Up- Glasgow

    Pool 3:

    Ospreys, Clermont Auvergne, Leicester, Viadana


    Poor Viadana. Being put in this pool is like being dropped into shark infested water with a 20oz sirlion strapped to your head. If they manage even a bonus point I shall be surprised. As for the pool winners it's a tough call, each one of the other 3 sides has the ability to beat each other and it will boil down to their home games and invairably the points difference so the Viadana games become as crucial.

    Winners- Leicester
    Runners Up- Ospreys

    Pool 4:

    Bath, Stade Francias, Edinburgh, Uslter


    Another tough pool to call, four teams that, on their day can beat most teams in Europe. Stade Francais and Bath look to be the favourites to compete for top spot in the foursome but like Glasgow, Edinburgh will look to spring an upset or two. Ulster too will be underestimated at their oppositions peril. In the end though I see the overall strength in depth and pure indiviual talent winning through

    Winners- Stade Francais
    Runners Up- Bath (qualify as best runner up)

    Pool 5:

    Cardiff, Harlequins, Sale, Toulouse

    All eyes will be on Harlequins this year and not for the best of reasons. After the summer revalations over the "Bloodgate" scandal Quins are looking to rebuild their reputation and will look to prove it infront of Europes best. The other sides in the group should beware of that especially Toulouse as Quins have a habit of shocking the "bigger" teams. After losing some of their big names Sale are, on paper, probably the weaker sides of the group and I doubt they will make an impact in this pool.

    Winner- Toulouse
    Runners Up- Harlequins

    Pool 6:

    Brive, Leinster. London Irish, Scarlets


    London Irish could be the most improved side in Europe within the last 12 months. They were close to winning the Premiership playoff final last year and are unbeaten so far in 2009/10. Leinster are defending their crown that they won last year which, as history proves, is a difficult task to achieve. They shouldn't have a problem with that this year. Brive have had a dramatic fall from grace when they were one of, if not the, best side in France a few years ago. The Scarlets are struggling in the Magners Laegue and it won't get easier in this competition.

    Winners- Leinster
    Runners Up- London Irish (qualify as best runner up)


    So there we have it, my look at the pools. Let the arguements begin.
     
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  3. Bullitt

    Bullitt Guest

    I hope you're right about Pool 1, but I think Perpingan will win it.
     
  4. Juan VdS

    Juan VdS Guest

    Great post. I somehow sense Stade Français will be one of the upsets of the Cup (with Bath taking the top spot).

    Pool 1 looks destined to be dominated by either Munster or the Saints, but if Perpignan manages to fix their line out, they might stand a chance.

    Pool 3 looks like a very interesting one, I'm expecting Clermont to come through on top of the Ospreys -- it's ironic how Viadana, being such a limited team, will play a key role in this pool.

    Pool 6 looks like a polarized struggle between London Irish and Leinster. The opening game will be critical. If BOD's side manages to maintain their level they will win this pool without sweating too much.
     
  5. Bullitt

    Bullitt Guest

    Good thread, featured on the portal.
     
  6. <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE (Juan VdS @ Oct 6 2009, 08:03 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}></div>
    Finally someone talking sense! Bath have the squad to really cause problems in this Heineken Cup, signings like Salvi, Little and Carraro really settling in nicely (Skirving not so much...thats a conversation for another day). With Luke Watson (top scorer in Currie Cup so far - 11 tries in 13 games), Dave Wilson (most promising young prop in England) Butch James (World Cup winner), Olly Barkley (Bath's record points scorer) we're looking at potentially one of the best teams in Europe. With players like Flatman, Mears, Wilson, Grewcock, Salvi, Watson, Claassens, James, Barkley, Hape and Banahan we can beat any team on our day and once we learn to close out games we should be up and firing! I have a feeling (as i always do) that this may be Bath's year.
     
  7. Sir Speedy

    Sir Speedy Guest

    Northampton to win Pool One? Oh Christ, now you've done it.

    And too many of them are very too close to call.

    Pool Three for instance. Leicester have been average in the Premiership. Ospreys have been crap also, but have found form in their last two games. I have no idea how Clermont are getting on in the T14, but they always pose some enormous threat. I'd imagine the Ospreys and Clermont will both escape this group.

    Haven't Stade been poor in the T14 aswell? I could see Edinburgh causing a few upsets. In fact, they're good enough to win that pool. Bath are too variable; and when they play bad, they really are balls.

    Toulouse should easily take Pool 5. Harlequins are not good, and Cardiff are in an awful state at the moment.

    Pool 2 could also be very close. Glasgow will definitely upset one of the sides; as will Newport. Biarritz aren't particularly classy, or good, at all. Gloucester will most likely take it though.

    Leinster will win their pool, with LI getting through as a best runner up.
     
  8. Juan VdS

    Juan VdS Guest

    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE (ali12 @ Oct 6 2009, 04:19 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}></div>
    Finally someone talking sense! Bath have the squad to really cause problems in this Heineken Cup, signings like Salvi, Little and Carraro really settling in nicely (Skirving not so much...thats a conversation for another day). With Luke Watson (top scorer in Currie Cup so far - 11 tries in 13 games), Dave Wilson (most promising young prop in England) Butch James (World Cup winner), Olly Barkley (Bath's record points scorer) we're looking at potentially one of the best teams in Europe. With players like Flatman, Mears, Wilson, Grewcock, Salvi, Watson, Claassens, James, Barkley, Hape and Banahan we can beat any team on our day and once we learn to close out games we should be up and firing! I have a feeling (as i always do) that this may be Bath's year.
    [/b][/quote]

    Thanks mate! Bath does have a solid group of players now, and if they are on song they are more than capable of beating any other team. In addition to that, Stade Français are not performing well whatsoever. Their forward pack is fine, but since Hernandez left their backline looks weak and runs dry of ideas too quickly. Brian Liebenberg is no JMH, and Bousses is not a fullback.

    That aside, I will keep an eye on Banahan. He is a very interesting winger.
     
  9. Think pool 1 all wrong in your eyes it a 3 horse race and I'd have Munster as favourite as they team who know how to grind out wins and bonus points (winning & loosing)
    but the pool will be decided by:
    - Bonus Points (Away BP's will be vital if game lost)
    - Will Perpignan be serious
    - Score difference against Treviso

    But really think prediction aint correct mp pool Winner's & Runner-Up's are:

    1. Munster & Perpignan (If they take it serious)
    2. Biarittz & Glasgow
    3. Ospreys & Clermont (Again if serious)
    4. Bath & Edinburgh
    5. Toulouse & Cardiff if ok at 10
    6. Leinster & L.Irish

    L.Irish and Glasgow I think have best chance of gaining most point as runner-ups
     
  10. O'Rothlain

    O'Rothlain Guest

    I hate that Ulster and Stade Francais are in the same pool. Two of my fabourite teams are going to have to battle it out early. Great post. Week 1 should be interesting...I hope we see some brilliant rugby and maybe a few upsets.
     
  11. dullonien

    dullonien Guest

    Great post bristol iain, obviously alot of time gone into creating a quality thread.

    I haven't got much time so I'll just discuss the Welsh regions chances for now.

    In pool 2, the Dragon's have nothing to loose. The way they've started the season I'm sure we'll see some big wins from them. However their squad just isn't big enough to seriously consider toping the pool. They'll be looking to win all their home games, but can see them loosing one or two. I can't see them winning away (unless they turn up against Glasgow), which will mean they won't advance from the pool.

    Onto pool 3. The Ospreys have probably had a perfect start to the season. That may seem like a weird thing to say, as they were abysmal for the forst 3 games. This has however obviously prompted some changes and improved work-rate. After such a poor start they are still 3rd in the Magners League, and look to be hitting good form running into the HC. An on form Ospreys team usually wins, so I'm backing them to top the group. I think two teams will get to the q/f from this group, and I feel Clermont don't travel as well as Leicester and Ospreys. Therefore O's and Leicester to progress.

    Pool 5: Here the Blues are going to struggle. Their one saving grace is that there isn't really an in form team there. Harlequins have had a terrible start to the season (like the Blues), Sale have sold all their stars and are struggling and Tolouse have also started averagely in the Top14. This pool is up for grabs by the first team who regainst some kinda form. First match is vital for the Blues, if they beat Harlequins, some confidence could return. A good game for SKN wouldn't go amiss.

    Finally, Pool 6. This is a shocker of a pool for all concerned. It's even gonna be tough for Leinster, as London Irish are the form team of the GP, and Brive are always capable of winning (maybe not so much away). The Scarlets will struggle I feel. They've been performing well this season (apart from against Glasgow), but they're not getting the results. I wonder how much this has taken out of such a young squad? If the Scarlets can get a platform up front in their games, they could cause an upset, as their backs can score tries for fun. Can't see that happening against LI or Leinster.

    Just ordered Sky Sports package for the month (£26 for the month from Virgin, quite alot, but the pubs don't show any games in Lincoln), so I'm gonna be able to watch lots of games. My uni work's gonna suffer though.
     
  12. MunsterMan

    MunsterMan Guest

    I think you are a bit mad Bristol-Iain!

    Predicting Perpignan not to get out of the group is very risky given the way they have been playing lately, the only game I saw was the demolition of Clermont but they are very impressive, the group is theirs to win if they want it.
     
  13. <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE (MunsterMan @ Oct 7 2009, 09:09 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}></div>
    Exactly like Perpignan in their home ground is hostile and hard.
    But will they be serious or in away games have 12/13 changes.
     
  14. bristol-iain

    bristol-iain Guest

    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE (bristol-iain @ Oct 6 2009, 06:46 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}></div>
     
  15. Sir Speedy

    Sir Speedy Guest

    Pool 2 was disappointing from the Dragons' perspective... Massive letdown.
     
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