The UEFA Champions League, 2017/ 18 season starts properly tomorrow as the giants of Europe lock horns at the group stages.
Kick Off for all matches – 6:45 pm GMT.
The competition began in June when clubs with low coefficient had to play the preliminary knockout stages after which the others who placed third and fourth respectively in their leagues had to also join to book their places.
Clubs like Liverpool, Seville, SS Napoli and new entrant Qarabag Agdam FKhad go through the preliminary knockout phase before getting here.
The Return of the English Giants
England would present five teams in this years Champions league.
Chelsea FC, Manchester United and Liverpool return into the elite club competition after missing out for sometime.
They are expected to light up the competition with some of the best coaches handling them; Antonio Conte, Jose Mourihno and Jurgen Klopp respectively.
Manchester United qualified as Europa League Champions after beating Ajax Amasterdam 2-0 in the finals. Romero Lukaku who came into the Red Devils to replace legend Wayne Rooney, who went the other way to join Everton. Luka has been in fine form scoring from day one to date and so would be called upon to exhibit his fine scoring form as Unite host FC Basel at the Old Trafford.
Chelsea won the English Premier League in a fantastic manner and would be watched with interesting eyes as they take on new entrant Qarabag Agdam FK from Azerbaijan.
Though Diego Costa has decided not to be part of Conte’s plans for the new season as the coach also wanted it to be, Alvaro Morata has filled in so well and has been scoring some fantastic goals for the Blues in the Premiership, as a tried and tested striker in the UEFA Champions League, the Spanish striker would be watched with eagle’s eyes to deliver for his new club.
Liverpool had to go through the preliminary knock phase by beating TSG Hoffeinham before getting the chance to be here. The coach of the Reds, Jurgen Klopp insisted on having a good squad for the season hence his reluctance to allow Brazilian play maker Philippe Coutinho to join FC Barcelona. Though they were battered by Manchester City by 5-0 on Saturday, they are tipped to bounce back as they face Europa League custodians, FC Seville.
The Revenge or Repeat
To on the bill this mid week will be the FC Barcelona- Juventus clash at the Camp Nou on Tuesday night. They will continue from where they left off last season.
It will be the third consecutive time these two giants are meeting after Juventus eliminated Barcelona at the quarter finals stage of just ended season’s Champions League. The Catalans failed to score in the home and away fixtures as they Italian opponents conquered them with a 3-0 scoreline in the first leg at Turin.
Both teams have undergone some changes when the new transfer window was opened. The home side, Barcelona lost their Prince, Neymar Santos Junior in a controversial transfer to Paris St Germain but were lucky to clinch Ousmane Dembele from Borussia Dortmund. Dembele made his debut in the 5-0 debacle of Espanyol in the Spanish La Liga when he assisted Luis Suarez for the fifth goal. He came to replace La Masia graduate Gerard Deolofeu who came back after series of loans in England and Italy. Brazilian midfielder Paulinho was also brought in from China with Nelson Semedo coming in to solve their right back problems.
Juventus were also strong enough to hold unto their play maker Paolo Dybala as most big clubs in Europe came chasing him, but unfortunately they lost their defensive pivot Leonardo Bonucci to their rivals AC Milan. Brazilian full back Dani Alves who excelled so much in his first stint with the Italia club also left for PSG. Meanwhile the Bianconneris secured the services of Douglas Costa from Bayern Munich, German Benedikt Howdes and Blaise Matuidi to fill the vacuum created.
With six key players ( Khedira, Howedes, Mario Manzukich and Chellini ) out because of injury, Juventus is likely to suffer at the hands of the Catalan Giants who seem to have rediscovered their confidence and playing so well as well as dealing with their defensive problems. They have managed nine goals in three matches in the La Liga with none conceded, with danger man Lionel Messi leading with five goals.
The Expectations from PSG
French overlords, PSG have done some marvelous signings this season and have increased in confidence as they start their campaign at the Celtic Park in Scotland. With the purchase of Neymar from Barcelona and Mppabe from AS Monaco, as well as Dani Alves from Juventus, the French side is now tagged as one of the fearsome sides for this years competition and so cannot disappoint as they face the Scotish Champions. Their bad record of allowing FC Barcelona to overturn a 4-0 lead in the knock out stage of last season’s competition should be over ridden by the level of expectations from their front three; Neymar, Cavani, Mbbape as Thiago Silva and Marquinhos provide a solid base at the back.