The Champions League is about to start in less than a week, and the final 16 teams are gearing up for the much-awaited European showcase.
Liverpool’s repeat bid will be easier said than done since the playing field looks to be tougher according to our Champions League 2020 predictions as pointed out by my fellow writer in his previous post.
Other teams such as Dortmund, PSG, and Barcelona were very active in the transfer market in an attempt to reinforce their respective teams, while underrated teams such as RB Leipzig, Valencia, PSG, and Atalanta will look to make some noise.
Without further ado, SBOTOP gives you a quick preview of what’s ahead.
Liverpool securing their big guns
The defending titlists in the Champions League are on the verge of making history in the Premier League as they’ve been undefeated for quite some time now.
Of course, their success story is due to the fact that Jurgen Klopp’s wards are stepping up to the challenge while playing under a great system.
With so many teams trying to break up the Reds, Liverpool will be prioritising maintaining their key cogs in order to prolong their team success.
Star defender Virgil Van Dijk has been reportedly offered a five-year extension to secure his future with Liverpool. The Netherlands international has been the fulcrum for the Reds on defence and at the attack and he was a lead candidate for last year’s Ballon d’Or award.
Another integral piece that needs to be kept is their midfielder in Roberto Firmino. Firmino was reportedly linked to Bayern Munich, which doesn’t appear to be a suitable destination for him since they already have the likes of Robert Lewandowski and Serge Gnabry to spearhead their attack.
With Gini Wijnaldum’s contract talks with the Reds having reached an impasse, another name that has been floating around is their former player in Philippe Coutinho, but there aren’t any imminent developments yet as of this moment.
Liverpool will be one of the heavy favourites to make a deep run in the Champions League, and only a handful of teams are uniquely qualified to stop them.
Pep Guardiola takes things into perspective
Despite having won five major trophies since arriving at the Etihad in 2016, Pep Guardiola has yet to find success in Europe.
Manchester City had some bad luck over these past few Champions League campaigns as they failed to make it past the quarterfinals, having been dumped out by Liverpool, Monaco, and Tottenham.
This time around, his Sky Blues will get to face the resurgent Los Blancos in the first knockout phase, but the former Barca boss isn’t fazed whatsoever at the possibilities if ever they get eliminated early.
“I accept the challenge. I want to win the Champions League. I dream and will enjoy the games against Real Madrid to see what I can do,” said Guardiola in a recent interview.
“If we don’t beat them, then (people) will come and say ‘It’s not good enough, we want the Champions League. I’m going to sack you.’ Then I’ll say, ‘Ok thank you, it was a pleasure.’” he added.
Manchester City’s recent form has been lacklustre to say the least. They are fresh off losses from Tottenham and Manchester United both in the Premier League and in the Football League Cup while they struggled against Sheffield United and Crystal Palace.
Like City, Real Madrid also have some issues at the backline. And if the likes of Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling, and Riyad Mahrez can take advantage of that, they are giving themselves a great chance to move on to the next round.
Kylian Mbappe has high hopes for PSG
Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain have been in numerous transfer rumours lately, but their focus remains on trying to win their first-ever Champions League title.
“I would be proud to be able to obtain a first big European trophy for Paris, the Champions League, and to continue to win with our country – that’s my dream,” said Kylian Mbappe.
“They say dreams are inaccessible and at the moment, but I will try to accomplish this dream,” he emphasized.
Their chances of making a deep run in the Champions League seem to be slim, especially with Neymar out due to injuries. Kylian Mbappe and Mauro Icardi are expected to carry the load.
PSG will face a dangerous Borussia Dortmund squad who has been hitting their stride as of late. Since acquiring Erling Haaland last January, BVB have scored at least three goals in all of their games in the Bundesliga and in the DFB Pokal. The 19-year-old wunderkind is expected to do more of the same for Dortmund by producing some of the best Champions League 2020 highlights.
The Parisians won the UEFA Winners’ Cup in 1996 but they have yet to win in the Champions League or in the European Cup in their 49-year history. They failed to advance in the quarterfinals last year when they were booted out by Manchester United.