New season, new hopes as contender’s line-up in the various leagues around Europe.
In the English Premier League three is the magic number. Manchester City are going for their third consecutive EPL title and still look the goods. They made history last season by becoming the first team in England to win a domestic treble – the League, FA Cup and League Cup. Their stylish brand of attacking football will continue under Pep Guardiola, but the focus must now shift to success in Europe.
Meanwhile Liverpool are aiming for their third consecutive Champions League Final appearance, and with their quick forward line and pressing game, you wouldn’t back against them.
Amongst the chasers, Manchester United are hoping their three new signings rejuvenate their style and propel them back into the automatic qualification spots for the main European competition where their fans feel they belong. Chelsea finished third last season, although with a new Manager, a young squad and a transfer ban they have the challenge in front of them to push for honours this year.
Arsenal have missed the qualification spots for the Champions League for the last three seasons, although they did win the FA Cup Final three years ago.
In addition to this, three teams changed their Manager prior to the season starting, Chelsea, Newcastle and Brighton.
The odd ones out are Tottenham. Spurs will be looking to continue their momentum, having finished within the top 4 for the last four years. Their Champions League Final appearance shows they are getting closer, but the sobering fact is the last time they won a trophy was back in 2008, when they beat Chelsea to win the League Cup.
Meanwhile it’s situation normal in Italy. Juventus have won Serie A for the last eight seasons, and after strengthening their team they look the obvious choices. They have brought in a new, more attack-minded Manager, Maurizio Sarri, to strengthen their push for European glory. Can you see Cristiano Ronaldo lifting the UEFA trophy this season? Their main domestic rivals should again be Napoli and Inter Milan.
German champions Bayern Munich have freshened up their squad and look certain to add to their seven consecutive Bundesliga wins. This is a club that has made the semi-finals of the Champions League five times in the last seven seasons, so I wouldn’t be betting against them. However, Borussia Dortmund have an exciting young team and must fancy their chances, after coming so close last season, while RB Leipzig are about to reap the benefits of a great scouting set up.
Spain is getting interesting. Barcelona, renowned for their style of football, almost won the treble last season, and of course have won La Liga eight times in the last eleven seasons. Can Messi continue to perform at the elite level? Are the additions of Greizmann and de Jong enough to push them on? Last season’s runners-up, Athletico Madrid, again look likely to be the main challenger. Young sensation Joao Felix and Saul Niguez have real pedigree to push their cause. Real Madrid, more a cup contender in recent seasons, will always be considered challengers, particularly with Zidane back in charge.
It’s going to be interesting.