Contrary to expectations, Real Madrid have not started the season as expected – both domestically and the Champions League. Los Blancos are currently sat at 5th place in La Liga at the time of writing and although they’ve won both of their games in Europe, they are a very unstable side at the moment. The absence of main-man Cristiano Ronaldo towards the start of the season was anything but helpful, however anxious performances at the Bernabeu seem to be their biggest problem.
It’s nowhere near catastrophic for Zidane’s men but their recent form is definitely a cause for concern. Real Madrid started the season as firm favourites to win the Champions League and, although their odds of winning the competition still sit at 4/1, teams like Paris Saint Germain have proven themselves to be strong contenders. Madrid really ought to start building up their confidence at home, or else they’ll miss out on becoming the first team to win the Champions League three years in a row (in its current format).
As already mentioned, PSG have had a fantastic start to the season. Having already beaten Celtic and Bayern Munich comfortably, Unai Emery’s side are looking like a force to be reckoned with. Mbappe, Neymar and Cavani have already scored a stunning 22 goals collectively this season. That’s expected, though, considering those three players alone cost PSG’s Qatari owners an estimated €466 million…
The Parisian’s performances have certainly lived up to, and perhaps even exceeded, expectations. The link-up play between their front three has been outstanding and now it seems any ego clashes between Cavani and Neymar have been ironed out, they can really start to kick on. PSG will be one of Europe’s most dominant forces for many years to come, however an important question to ask is whether or not they are good enough to win the Champions League this season. Only time will tell.
For the past few years there’s been a core group of four teams who are a cut above the rest. Real Madrid are part of this group, and they’re joined by Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Juventus. All of these teams (including Real Madrid) have a long list of problems at the moment, though.
Barcelona’s squad has become noticeably weaker since the departure of Neymar and, although they’ve managed to start the season well, this good form will come to and end sooner or later. Like Barcelona, Juventus lost one of their key players, Leonardo Bonucci, during the summer and are definitely worse off because of it. In fact, the Italian side suffered a 3-0 loss to Barcelona earlier on in the Champions League group stages this season – a strong indication that they are not up to scratch. Finally we come to Bayern Munich who endured a sobering loss of their own earlier on this season to PSG, also by a scoreline of 3-0, and have since decided to part ways with their then manager Carlo Ancelotti, which will cause further disturbance to the German side.
As you can see, the majority of Europe’s elite teams have a lot of issues so this season the Champions League shall prove to be a very open competition. Real Madrid and PSG are widely regarded as the two favourites to win it, but other than that, there’s an almost never-ending list of teams with an outside chance. All the teams already mentioned, plus the likes of Chelsea and the two Manchester clubs, have a shot being crowned European Champions next summer.
One thing is for sure; this will be one of the most unpredictable editions of the Champions League in years.
by George (@georjecb on Twitter)
This article is written by George. Check him out on Twitter @georjecb.
Paris Saint Germain broke the bank this summer to sign Barcelona’s Neymar Jr for a staggering world-record fee of £198m. And they didn’t stop there. The Parisians then went on to sign Kylian Mbappe on a season-long loan with an agreement to sign him next summer for £166m. With those two new signings and last season’s Ligue 1 top goal-scorer, Edison Cavani, PSG may well possess the best attack in football.
I’m not definitively saying MCN (Mbappe, Cavani and Neymar) are the best attacking trio in the world, but it’s hard to think of a front line more frightening than those three. Perhaps Barcelona’s Messi, Suarez and Dembele, or Real Madrid’s Ronaldo, Benzema and Bale could rival MCN, but it’s very close. I could write endlessly about Real Madrid and Barcelona’s attacks, but for now I’d like to focus on PSG.
I’m going to start with perhaps the weakest member of PSG’s attack, Edison Cavani. Many have criticised the Uruguayan’s finishing ability, highlighting how wasteful he is in front of goal. I agree he isn’t the most efficient striker out there, but he certainly isn’t as bad as people say. Last season he scored 35 goals in 36 games, which was 7 goals more than what any other player in the French league could manage. That being said, he did finish the season with a relatively mediocre 53% shot accuracy (significantly lower than that most of Europe’s other elite strikers).
Cavani’s finishing ability does need to be worked on, but other than that, he’s a good all-round striker. I’m not going to claim he’s the best striker in the world, but he’s more than capable of leading the line in Paris.
PSG’s latest signing, Kylian Mbappe, only sprung to notoriety last season. The 18-year-old exploded onto the scene for Monaco in the Champions League in Spring 2017, which is when the hype around him started to grow. Truthfully, though, he’d already been tearing it up in Ligue 1 that season – he ended the campaign with 26 goals in 44 matches in all competitions.
£166m is a lot to pay for any player, let alone a teenager with very little experience at the highest level. Signing Mbappe was a huge risk for PSG. This risk, though, looks like it might just pay off – the Frenchman has already scored two goals in three games and hasn’t shown any signs of being a one-season wonder.
It’s hard to describe Kylian Mbappe’s play-style. He’s very quick with his feet and has the confidence to try anything while possessing the ability to pull it off. He’s a sensational player and at the age of just 18, the only way is up.
Last, but certainly not least, we have the world’s most expensive footballer, Neymar Jr. The 25-year-old is one of the greatest players of his generation and I have no doubt that he’ll one day win the Ballon d’Or.
In case you aren’t familiar with Neymar, the Brazilian winger signed for PSG this summer for £198m from FC Barcelona. His Barca career was littered with goals, trophies and a whole host of other accolades. Neymar clearly felt it was time to move on though, and I personally think moving to PSG is the best decision of his career (click here to find out why).
Since moving to PSG, Neymar has scored 5 goals and registered 5 assists in just 6 games. For a winger - in fact, for any player - that’s outstanding.
I’m very excited to see how MCN get on this season in Paris. The trio are terrifying in terms of their individual quality. The one problem I have seen, though, is their inability to get on and work together. We've already seen arguments between Neymar and Edison Cavani on the pitch over set-pieces, and if this continues then PSG will be held back. Stuff like this shouldn't be underestimated - you can have the best team in the world, but if the players don't get on the team won't win anything.
The main question I'm here to answer, though, is: are MCN the best front three in the world? To be completely honest, it’s too early to say. They have the potential to do well, but cracks have already started to show in their relationship. Come back to me in a couple of months’ time and I’ll give you a proper answer.
This article is written by @unitedinsight. Check him out on Instagram.
The UEFA Champions League draw (UCL) took place just a few days ago. Having seen some of the fixtures that will take place in the group stages alone, I think we can all anticipate a very tight contest this year. It looks very exciting and there are more than a few mouthwatering clashes on the cards.
United were drawn into group A and face some fairly tricky opponents. The Reds share a group with SL Benfica, FC Basel and CSKA Moscow. To be brutally honest, United could consider themselves quite fortunate; having avoided the big boys once again. Yes, there will be some tricky games for United but when you look at who teams like Chelsea and Tottenham have in their groups', it's really not that bad.
United can't afford to be complacent, though, and shouldn't underestimate their group-stage opponents. Back in the 2011/12 season, United finished 3rd in their group; finishing behind SL Benfica and FC Basel! They can't let that happen again. Needless to say, United had underestimated their opponents back then. To avoid that this time around, United must be well prepared and wary of their opponents' threats.
Moreover, José will certainly want to make his mark in the UCL once again, having being knocked out in the semi-finals three times in a row with Madrid and in the round-of-16 with Chelsea in his last four encounters. United should be able to get past the group-stages without much hassle, given the quality and depth of their star-studded squad. United should be able to at least reach the quarters or semi-finals if everything goes well. However, with the likes of Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, FC Bayern München, PSG, Atlético Madrid etc. out there as well, it won't be an easy task for the lads.
Do you think Man United can win the Champions League? Let us know on Twitter @socabol.
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This article is written by @mufccontent. Check him out on Instagram.
This is a very exciting season for Manchester United. They are back in the Champions League and have the opportunity to build upon the success of last season with some more trophy wins. The following article is a break-down of the competitions United are entered in.
The Premier League:
The new 2017/18 EPL season has started and Manchester United were off to a great start after beating West Ham United by four goals to nil. This was a great game for United and a brilliant example of what our team can do. It's a good start, but it's only a start. We need to continue this form into the coming games so we can stay on top of the table and have a strong first quarter of the season. Manchester United have had a perfect first game of the season, though, and have carried our top pre-season form into the Premier League.
Europa League Last Season:
Last season Manchester United won the Europa League after giving Ajax a lesson in how to win a football match (the full-time score was 2-0 to the Reds). The goals came from French midfielder Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and overall the team performance was very convincing. As you know, this Europa League win meant that we are now able to play in the Champions League this season and personally I can't wait!
The Champions League This Season:
I think that Man United have a great chance in the Champions League 2017/18 due the changes we've made over the summer transfer window. Our team is experienced and full of talent which will bring us goals and clean sheets. With our new signings Romelu Lukaku, Nemanja Matic and Victor Lindelöf, our team looks ready for the Champions league. Even though we are going to be up against some of Europe's elite clubs, I think we now have what it takes to beat them (as we displayed in our very respectable performance against Real Madrid at the start of the season in the Super Cup).
UEFA Super Cup:
This year Manchester United played against Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup. In this match the winners of the Europa League and Champion League get to fight it out (and usually, the Europa League winners try to prove they are good enough for the UCL). In this match, Real Madrid beat Manchester United 2-1 - as I said earlier, though, Man United did put in a very good shift against a world-class Real Madrid side.
Thank you so much for reading this article. If you have any messages regarding Manchester United in the Premier League or Champion League message me on Instagram @mufccontent!
With the Champions League Final between Real Madrid & Juventus coming up shortly, the guys from Italian Football TV discuss whether or not the nation of Italy should get behind Juve in their latest effort to win Europe's most coveted trophy.
Article by @football_reloaded. Follow him on Instagram here.
Today I'd like to discuss the Champions League Final taking place in Cardiff on the 3rd June between Juventus and Real Madrid. This fixture carries a lot of history - these two sides have been dominant in Europe in the modern era of football, and have played each other quite a lot considering their only opportunity for a face-off is in European competitions. This season both sides have performed fantastically in the Champions League, and were superior to their respective opponents in the semi-finals.
As I said, these two teams have faced each other in the knock-out stages a lot - more times than any other clubs in the history of the Champions League, actually. This year, however, will only be the second time they've actually faced each other in the final - the first time was in 1998 at the Amsterdam Arena, where the two sides were separated only by a goal from Real Madrid's Mijatovic.
Should they win in Cardiff, Real Madrid will be lifting the Champions League trophy for the twelfth time. As for Juventus, they only have two European accolades to their name - they came close to a third in 2015 but fell at the last hurdle against FC Barcelona.
In my opinion it'll be a world class game to watch - top quality football at the highest level. We'll be able to marvel at some of game's greatest ever players. The likes of Gianluigi Buffon and Giorgio Chiellini will be searching for their first ever UCL trophy, while Cristiano Ronaldo will be searching for yet another winner's medal to add to his collection (and the possibility of winning a fifth Ballon d'Or at the end of the year). Cardiff, 3rd June 2017. I can't wait.
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