Thursday, December 11, 2008

No. 4: Bayern Munich

Bayern has lost just twice in 16 Bundesliga games, sitting second in the table behind upstart Hoffenheim. Bayern beat Hoffenheim 2-1 at home a week ago, however. Bayern, the four-time champions of Europe, have a +15 goal differential in the Bundesliga - tied for second with Bayer Leverkusen behind Hoffenheim (+19).

Italian international Luca Toni leads Bayern with eight goals, including one in the win over Hoffenheim. German star Miroslav Klose scored two goals for Bayern in its 3-2 win over Lyon in Matchday 6 of the Champions League Group Stage. That win clinched one of the eight top spots for Bayern. German outside fullback Phil Lahm is one of the best in the world.

Why they are here: Bayern appear to have one of the most balanced sides in Europe. Klose and Toni are a dangerous combination up top, while Frenchman Franck Ribery, German Bastian Schweinsteiger, Holland's Mark van Bommel, Turkey's Hamit Altintop and Brazil's Ze Roberto give Bayern both a steady and dynamic midfield.

Why they might not be here in May: Germany striker Lukas Podolski looks like a breakout star waiting to happen, but injuries have hampered him this year. New coach Jurgen Klinsmann is coaching at the club level for the first time, but of course he's no stranger to the big stage as a former star striker at the club and country level.

1. Manchester United
2. Barcelona
3. Liverpool
4. Bayern Munich

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