December 13th, 2010
03:36 PM ET

Who will win the Champions League?

Can Barcelona stars Xavi, left, and Carles Puyol lift the Champions League trophy again this season? (Getty Images)
Can Barcelona stars Xavi, left, and Carles Puyol lift the Champions League trophy again this season? (Getty Images)

CNN's World Sport will be broadcasting its predictions for 2011 in upcoming shows between December 31-January 2. First up in a series of preview blogs, Pedro Pinto takes a look at the contenders for this season's Champions League.

As we enter the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League, which is where the competition truly comes to life, it’s time to look at who will be named Europe's best football team come May 28.

In order to lift the trophy you need three key ingredients: talent, desire and luck. You certainly don’t need to have all of them at the same time, but any club aiming to win the world’s top club competition will need to have plenty of each, at one time or another.

In my mind, there is only one club that has what it takes this season: Barcelona.

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December 9th, 2010
11:20 AM ET

It's time for a change in tennis

Novak Djokovic helped Serbia to a thrilling first Davis Cup title, beating France 3-2 in the final. (AFP/Getty Images)
Novak Djokovic helped Serbia to a thrilling first Davis Cup title, beating France 3-2 in the final. (AFP/Getty Images)

Well done Serbia! A great Davis Cup final was just what the doctor ordered for a prestigious tennis event which desperately needed a shot in the arm.

Let’s face it, the Davis Cup has lost much of its luster in recent years. The top players play sporadically in the teams tournament, preferring instead to focus on their individual careers.

But now that the men's ATP Tour has announced it will lengthen the off-season in 2012, the International Tennis Federation should use the moment to also change the format of the Davis Cup or risk it falling further into obscurity.

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December 6th, 2010
02:28 PM ET

Who is the world's best footballer?

Xavi has been a fixture in the Barcelona midfield for the last decade.
Xavi has been a fixture in the Barcelona midfield for the last decade.

The three-man shortlist for the new FIFA Ballon d’Or award has been announced, and in my mind there is no doubt who should be voted the winner – Xavi.

If you look around the world and scan all of the top teams, who can you think of that is more influential during a game of football than the Barcelona and Spain maestro? I can find no-one.

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December 2nd, 2010
05:44 PM ET

Has FIFA gambled with World Cup decisions?

FIFA president Sepp Blatter wants to develop football around the globe. (AFP/Getty Images)
FIFA president Sepp Blatter wants to develop football around the globe. (AFP/Getty Images)

Just when we feared the old boys of FIFA might play it safe after “gambling” on fresh markets in 2010 with South Africa and then a long-awaited return to Brazil in 2014, they throw us for a loop and select two World Cup-hosting novices in Russia and Qatar. Brilliant!

During the months of wrangling over who said what to whom, and who asked who for what, it kind of got lost at times that the World Cup is a symbol of unity rather than an agent of divisiveness. But in choosing two first-timers to host, ruling body FIFA is reasserting the notion that football is a family in which each member at least has the opportunity to be an equal.

Russia’s choice as the host of the 2018 World Cup is perfectly logical. No country from the former Eastern Bloc has ever hosted a World Cup, and, though Russia/USSR has been present on the world football stage for many years, there’s still a feeling that we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg, economically speaking. As a result, FIFA, which takes the bulk of its revenue from the World Cup, was clearly not blind to the potential of another huge untapped market.

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