Analysis the Champions League Draw

Here are the Groups:

Group A: Benfica, Manchester United, FC Basel, CSKA Moscow.
Group B: Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain, Anderlecht, Celtic.
Group C: Chelsea, Atletico Madrid, Roma, FK Qarabag.
Group D: Juventus, Barcelona, Olympiakos, Sporting CP.
Group E: Spartak Moscow, Sevilla, Liverpool, NK Maribor.
Group F: Shakhtar Donetsk, Manchester City, Napoli, Feyenoord.
Group G: Monaco, FC Porto, Besiktas, RB Leipzig.
Group H: Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Tottenham, APOEL Nicosia.

 

Real Madrid in the Group of Death

Two-time defending champions get drawn in the Group of Death. (Image by Getty Images)

Group H is clearly the group to watch as the two-time defending champions Real Madrid have drawn Borussia Dortmund and Tottenham in their group alongside Cyprus side Apoel.

Real Madrid will have to continue the high form they are in if they want to survive. The Spanish side is still favorite to come out of the group, but they can’t afford to have slip-ups. Unless they are the top team in the world, they might not survive.

Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid are in a group again after being grouped together last year. Borussia Dortmund will look at the same challenge as last year when they also had a tough group with the defending champs, and they found some success winning the group.

Both games between the clubs ended in 2-2 draws, so it looks like things will be settled this year. The rematches should be fun to watch.

The addition of the Spurs drama is extra to the group this year. Spurs completely underwhelmed in last year’s competition, losing three games and two at Wembley. Many believe Spurs can’t fill and play well there.

Spurs will have to put the Wembley curse behind them with the difficult group. (Image by Getty Images)

Well, this year all their games are at Wembley because of the new stadium being built. If the Wembley form continues, or if the curse is true, it will be a tough year for Spurs, who will have to host the two-time champions and the high attacking Dortmund side.

Still, this group will feature six games of high-quality football in three cathedrals of the sports. The Bernabeu, Westfalenstadion and Wembley are world-class places. Every match between the clubs will be a spectacle to watch. This group will showcase the beauty of European club football.

Rounding out the group is Apoel, who will be the underdog in every match in the group. Not much is expected from them.

The Cyprus team does have some experience in the competition from 2012 when the team surprisingly got to the quarterfinals. The club will be looking to replicate the run they had, but it will be difficult with the group they were drawn in.

The Group of Life is Group G

Group G has Monaco, Porto, Besiktas and Red Bull Leipzig. It is the group where everyone seems to have a genuine chance of winning it.

There are no favorites in the group. Monaco is the champions in the group, but they have sold many of their stars from the semifinal side last year. With even more sales to come, it will difficult for the club to bring back the form they were in.

Monaco was given a lifeline with the difficult group, but none of the true football giants are in it. It will be challenging for the French Ligue side. Depending how they use the huge amount of funds that are coming in, they might be alright.

Porto, on the other hand, has been accustomed to making the second round of the tournament and will like their chances against teams who don’t really have experience. Porto has the side full of veterans that look poised to take control of the group. The Portuguese side will have the tough test, but with most of the squad at Monaco being sold, they seem destined to win the group.

Besiktas is the other team that will fancy their chances of coming through. They see the lowering of the level at Monaco and want to break  the bad streak Turkish football has had in Europe.

The Turkish league has risen in funding in recent year, but it has yet to have translated to Europe. Now Besiktas has the opening of making some noise with this group. They have a big fanbase and the funding to really make noise. Don’t be surprised if you see Besiktas in the second round.

Red Bull Leipzig is the last team and really makes the group interesting. The German side finished second in the Bundesliga and will make their European debut with this group. The German side hasn’t really made the addition of the squad, but have been keeping many of the players in the team from the surprise year, something Monaco hasn’t been able to do.

With this draw, the Leipzig side will definitely fancy their chances of going through. Expect a young high-pressure side that attacks anytime they can.

This group seems the most entertaining on paper from the point of view that every team will believe they are the better side. This will give us a group full of open matches.

Liverpool, Manchester United and Manchester city get favorable groups

All three teams came into the draw with nightmare possibilities and left with scenarios they will like.

Manchester United gets an easy favorite and becomes a contender to win it all. (Image by Getty Images)

United got drawn in group A alongside Benfica, Basel and Cska Moscow. All are games where the Red Devils will be favorites to win.

Manchester United may have gotten in the tournament through the back door of the Europa league, but now the three-time winners look poised for a deep run this year. They have started the league with two 4-0 thrashings. Things are looking bright for the English giants and Jose Mourinho.

If United can get one or two more players, they could be serious contenders to win the champions this year. It wouldn’t have been the first time Mourinho has won the Europa League and then the Champions League the following year.

Liverpool is the middle of the Coutinho drama, but there is good news. The Reds got drawn into Group E with Spartak Moscow, Sevilla and Maribor. They got one of the best options they had as their group’s champions with Spartak Moscow from Russia, a side Liverpool could get a win against.

Liverpool gets some much needed good news in the draw (Images : Getty Images )

They also get a win over Sevilla, which is the most favorable Spanish side they could have gotten and gives them the chance to avenge the loss they had in the Europa league final two years ago.

The last side Maribor is the Slovenian side that is among of the worst teams in the 32. They will look to shock the world, trying to get results with clubs much bigger in fan base and funding.

The Reds now look to be in a good place to make a run. Maybe this news makes them a little more willing to sell Coutinho. Liverpool could sell a couple players and still make it into the second round of the competition.

Man City ended up with the toughest group out of the three, but one that the club should handle. Group F is Shakhtar Donetsk, Napoli and Feyenoord, along with the Manchester club.

Man City should be favorite, but face a very good Napoli side, who could easily get a result. Napoli returns a very cohesive squad that will challenge any team. A Shakhtar side that is a veteran of the competition and seems to be in final 16 every year. Feyenoord is a young side that will surprise this year.

Man city is favorited, but if Pep doesn’t get the squad focused, things could go wrong fast in this group. Compared to Liverpool’s and United’s group, it’s hard, but Manchester City should have the squad to go through easily.

Chelsea dealt with tough group

Chelsea have tough test as they come back to the competition (image: Getty Images )

The blues are in a group that will test how deep the squad is as they will have no easy games.

Chelsea is in Group C alongside recent finalist Atletico Madrid, Roma and debutant Qarabag. Chelsea is coming from missing the Champions League last year and want to be among the leaders in the competition again.

Atletico Madrid is among the favorites to win it all, losing two recent finals, but face the unique challenge of being transfer banned. For the group stage, the club will be without reinforcement which might make it tough for the Spanish side.

Roma will look to take control from Chelsea with locker room troubles and an Atletico side that can’t improve themselves. They have brought in some talent and brought in a young Italian manager Eusebio Di Francesco.

Qarabag is the side in trouble. The side is the first club from Azerbaijan to ever make the Champions League group stage and will prove to be a long trip for the three big European clubs. Besides the Group of Death with the defending champions, this seems to be the toughest group on paper.

Big matches you won’t want to miss

Bayern Munich vs PSG – September 27 at Parc des Princes and December 5 at Allianz Arena
Atletico Madrid vs Roma – September 12 at Stadio Olimpico and November 22 at Wanda Metropolitano
Roma vs Chelsea – October 18 at Stamford Bridge and October 31 at Stadio Olimpico

Chelsea vs Atletico Madrid – September 27 at Wanda Metropolitano and December 5 at Stamford Bridge
Juventus vs Barcelona – September 12 at Camp Nou and November 22 at Juventus Stadium
Sevilla vs Liverpool – September 13 at Anfield and November 21 at Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan
Manchester City vs Napoli – September 26 at City of Manchester Stadium and November 1 at Stadio San Paolo
Real Madrid vs Borussia Dortmund – September 26 at Westfalenstadion and December 6 at Santiago Bernabeu
Borussia Dortmund vs Tottenham – September 13 at Wembley and November 21 at Westfalenstadion
Tottenham vs Real Madrid – October 17 at Santiago Bernabeu and November 1 at Wembley

 

Featured Image from Full Matches and Shows

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Top 5 Current Transfer Stories

Alexis Sanchez leaving Arsenal

 http://thegamehaus.com/2017/07/13/34028/

Alexis Sanchez,who has yet to sign an extension and would be free to go next summer (Image:Getty Images)

Alexis Sanchez is on the last year of his current contract and there has still been no announcement of him signing an extension. This means even thou Arsenal has started preseason with him in the squad if no contract is signed they will be forced to sell the player or face the fear he leaves on a free transfer next summer(which Arsenal will never let happen). Currently Manchester City and Bayern Munich are looking for the Chilean signature and if Alexis Sanchez doesn’t sign a contract it  might just force Arsenal to sell there main man. While Arsenal will demand a lot of money for the Chilean, teams know the situation and low ball their offers. Sanchez score 24 goals and gave 10 assists for the Gunners last season. What also adds stress to the situation is Arsenal missed out on Champions League Football and it would be very hard to find a proper replacement for the Chilean. They may have the money but Emirates Stadium is not that attractive without Champions League Football. It is essential for Arsenal to try to keep Alexis.

To understand how essential it is for Arsenal I posted a link HERE of Sanchez highlights last season.

Ivan Perisic To Manchester United

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Inter Milan are asking £50 million for Perisic. Who scored 11 and had 8 assist last season.(Image: Getty Images)

This transfer negotiation has been going on back and worth for a while now. The sides are supposedly only £9 million apart with pricing. Ivan Perisic is coming off one of his most productive season with Inter Milan netting 11 goals and creating eight assists, dominating the left-wing. The Croatian is a quick player who is also big and great in the air, things that are usually needed to succeed in the physical English premier league. Manchester United look to bring in the player to bolster their attack, which only scored 53 goals last season. Perisic’s play style also fits the Mourinho classic counter attack style and fits well with United latest signing Romelu LukaKu. From the Inter Milan point of view their isn’t much to do except try to get a much as you can for him. Inter want to keep Perisic but he his trying to force the move and its never smart to try to keep a player if they want to leave.

Highlights explaining his £50 million price can be seen HERE.

Kylian Mbappe to Real Madrid or Arsenal

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Where will he be “the main man” next season? (Image: REUTERS)

The Mbappe saga has been the longest of the summer since it started before the summer had arrived. Kylian Mbappe broke into the scene last season as an 18-year-old earning his spot in Monaco’s starting XI. With that spot he became the best player on the side scoring 15 and totaling eight assists in Ligue 1 and netting six goals in Champions League play. He led the team that won the French league and reached the Semifinal of the biggest tournament in Europe at such a young age. It is no wonder why the 18-year-old kid is rumored to be going for the biggest transfer fee in history, or close to it. Real Madrid seem to be the front-runners but they still haven’t sold Alvaro Morata to make the money and clear the space for French International to come. Arsenal on the other hand can’t offer him Champions League play, a tournament he would be able to participate if he doesn’t move. No deal is close, leaving Monaco worried it all might come down to the deadline. Monaco is trying to convince the youngster to stay one more year in the French league before moving to one of the big teams in Europe.This would give Monaco more time to get the right deal. Ultimately Mbappe has said to press he wants to play for Madrid and it is only a matter of time until the Spanish giants get the financial and squad space together.

Highlights of the wunderkind can be seen HERE.

Nelson Semedo to Barcelona

 http://thegamehaus.com/2017/07/13/34028/

After missing out on Bellerin,Semedo has become Barcelona’s main right back target (Image: NurPhoto/Getty Images)

Barcelona has been desperate in their look for a right back. Most of last season they played with Sergi Roberto at the position, a natural midfield player. Their long transfer target for the position. Hector Bellerin, has officially ruled out the move and Barcelona in recent weeks have changed their focus to the Portuguese international Nelson Semedo. The 23-year-old right back started 31 of the 34 games for the Portuguese champions, Benfica, and created seven assists coming from the back. Semedo also has great passing and dribbling skills which goes hand in hand with Barcelona’s system. The negotiations have been slow but expect them to speed up quickly now that it’s official Bellerin is not coming and preseason is starting.

Highlight of the player you might be seeing in every Classico next season HERE

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to Chelsea

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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is the last proven striker left in the market, Where will he land? (Image:Getty Images)

Chelsea is desperate to get a world-class striker into the building after missing out on Romelu lukaku and telling Diego Costa he is not wanted. They don’t have a proven goal scoring threat up top. While Pierre-Emerick Aubemeyang is not the greatest fit to Antonio Conte’s style, the other strikers Chelsea are looking at are to overpriced. Morata and Andrea Belotti are more ideal targets for Conte but both are priced slightly lower than Aubameyang and are not as proven. The Gabon striker scored 31 goals in 32 appearances and Borussia Dortmund seem to want to cash in on the striker. Chelsea made an 70 million offer for the forward late Thursday night and negotiations are starting to begin. Aubemeyang has become Chelsea’s main target for the position. If the Costa situation isn’t resolved then don’t be surprised if the Blues go a spend as much as they can on Aubameyang, as he really is the last proven world-class striker left in the market.

HERE are highlights of all the goals Aubameyang scored in this year’s Bundesliga.

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Three Reasons Why Real Madrid will Win the Champions League Final

The world’s most watched sporting event, the Champions League final in Cardiff, Wales, is quickly approaching. Two of the best teams in Europe, Real Madrid and Juventus have survived to this point of competition. The flashy dynamic Madrid attack against the wall that is the Juve defense. The defending champs come in oozing with confidence and have to be considered favorites on Saturday.

1. They Know How To Get it Done

Last season, the men from Madrid were victorious in penalties over cross town rival Atletico Madrid. Juventus fell to Barcelona in the finals the season before that and have not been crowned champions of Europe since 1996. Despite massive successes domestically, Gianluigi Buffon and Co. have never hoisted a European title. Only Sami Khedira, Dani Alves and Mario Mandzukic have tasted European glory among Juve’s current roster.

Real Madrid on the other hand, are full of winners. With the majority of the team leftover from last years triumph and 2014’s title, experience in big games could be the difference. Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United) and Toni Kroos (Bayern Munich) have each won an additional CL title to the two they have in Madrid.

2. They Have the Reigning Ballon D’Or Winner

Cristiano Ronaldo…while there may be debate to whether he is THE best player on the planet, there is no debate that he will be the nest player out on the pitch in Cardiff on Saturday. Despite not having a great season statistically, nobody has been more clutch in the biggest competition in club football than CR7 himself.

Cristiano Ronaldo has carried Real Madrid through the Champions League this season. (Photo by Sports Illustrated)

After his five goals in two matches helped Real by Bayern Munich in the quarterfinals, Ronaldo scored an astonishing hat trick at the Bernebeau to all but extinguish Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their semifinal. Ronaldo is well rested and his combination of speed, jumping ability, and positioning still makes him the most difficult man to mark on the pitch and will drive Juve defenders crazy.

 

3. They Have Greater Squad Depth

Juventus may in fact have the second best squad depth in all of Europe. With players such as Mandzukic, Juan Cuadrado, Andrea Barzagli and Claudio Marchisio being frequently rested throughout Champions League , Max Allegri will have plenty of options on Saturday.

However, the one team Juve can’t match up to are Los Blancos themselves. With Gareth Bale likely to start the match on the best due to fitness, Zinedine Zidane will have a star studded bench in Cardiff. Joining Bale will likely be Alvaro Morata, Marco Asensio, James Rodriguez, Raphael Varane/Pepe and Lucas Vasquez. All of the aforementioned Real substitutes could start on almost any team in Europe. If Saturday’s match rolls into extra time like last year, Real could have the upper hand.

 

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What Next Season’s Contenders Need to do to Improve in the Summer (Part 2)

Manchester City

Pep Guardiola’s second season in Manchester will be highly anticipated and expectations will be massive. With a year of experience in England under his belt, a title and run in the Champions League (assuming City make top four) will be expected.

City have perhaps the least amount of work to do as far as improving personnel. One storyline will be whether Sergio Aguero departs the club following the emergence of Gabriel Jesus. In Jesus and Kelechi Iheanacho, Guardiola has two young strikers with massive potential to develop. Aguero is nearing the end of his prime and may fancy a move back to Spain or Argentina in order to get more play time.

When City do go shopping in the summer, it will be mostly geared towards their defense. City’s deficiency at full back could be solved by signing Tottenham right back Kyle Walker. At left back, Jose Luis Gaya of Valencia would be a massive improvement over the departing Gael Clichy. Finally at goalkeeper, Guardiola needs to find an alternative to the horror show that has been Claudio Bravo and Willy Caballero this season.

 

Arsenal

The most uncertain future among England’s top clubs is that of Arsenal. The Gunners could very well lose their manager and two best players at the end of the season.

The club has been pretty mum on whether Arsene Wenger will still be at the Emirates next season. A split fanbase has made this story one of the most talked about in recent months. If Wenger ends his 21 year run at the club, two rumored candidates are Borussia Dortmund’s Thomas Tuchel and Monaco’s Leonardo Jardim.

Alexis Sanchez looks to be on his way out of the Emirates this summer. The Chilean leads the club with 25 goals in all competitions this season.

On the field, the team’s leading scorer this season, Alexis Sanchez, is all but guaranteed to be leaving in the summer. His list of possible suitors contain Chelsea, Paris St. Germain, Juventus and Bayern Munich. Midfielder Mesut Ozil also faces an uncertain future.

If either Sanchez or Ozil leave the club, it will leave a massive gap. However, the massive transfer fee Arsenal will collect will give them options in the replacement process. Monaco’s Thomas Lemar and Everton’s Ross Barkley are the latest rumored targets to replace Sanchez and Ozil respectively.

 

Manchester United

Much of what United is able to accomplish in the summer will be dependent on their result in the Europa League final May 24 vs Ajax. A victory would boost the Red Devils into next season’s Champions League, and equally importantly, it would make Old Trafford a very attractive destination in the summer.

Uncertainty over the striker position is first and foremost on Jose Mourinho’s mind. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is 35 and just sustained a serious knee injury. Marcus Rashford, while equipped with serious talent and potential, is still raw. Mourinho could look to the transfer market at that position. Antoine Griezmann has long been linked with a move to Man U and his addition would certainly make United quicker and more creative in the final third, an area they lacked in Mourinho’s first year with the club.

Two familiar faces could potentially depart the club this summer. Wayne Rooney has struggled to break into the first team under Mourinho and has been linked with a move back to his boyhood club Everton after an illustrious 13 year career for United. Goalkeeper David de Gea was close to moving to Real Madrid two summers ago and Los Blancos could come knocking again this season.

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Cristiano Ronaldo Continues To Carry Real Madrid Through The Champions League

Cristiano Ronaldo walked off the pitch Tuesday night at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeau with a wide smile his face. The 32 year old Portuguese superstar scored a hat trick in Real’s 3-0 first leg semifinal win over crosstown rivals Atletico Madrid in the Semifinal.

Despite his age and no longer possessing the athleticism he inched, Ronaldo is scoring big goals in big games and he’s scoring a lot of them. In Real’s last three Champions League matches (@Bayern, vs Bayern, vs Atleti), CR7 has scored an incredible eight goals. He has adjusted his play style and is one of the most lethal headers of the ball today. His attacking positioning is brilliant as well.

On his goal vs Bayern, Ronaldo shows how he has grown as a player. He has intelligent positioning and takes the cross down with class before dispatching it confidently into the net.

Ronaldo’s ability to adapt from a speedy winner to a smart, clinical finisher is the reason why he has been able to sustain his high level of play as long as he has.

In a season in which the fellow members of Real’s BBC (Bale, Benzema, Cristiano) have underwhelmed, Ronaldo has come through repeatedly for Madrid. Bale has missed a majority of the season due to injury and Benzema has been largely ineffective in his striker role. Los Blancos are in pole position to win La Liga in addition to being a step away from a third UCL final in four years.

As shown by his recent form, Ronaldo always seems to show up in the big games. With the comfort of knowing they have someone who can get it done in the clutch, Real Madrid have to like their chances going forward in the Champions League.

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UEFA Champions League Quarter-Finals preview

UEFA Champions League Quarter Final Preview

The draw for the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals took place on March 17th. With some of the best teams in the world entering the draw, the quarter-finals look set to be highly competitive. Let’s take a look at what we can expect in the next round of the competition.

Champions League Quarter-Final Draw

The teams that are in the hat for the quarter-final draw were:

  • Atletico Madrid (Spain)
  • Barcelona (Spain)
  • Real Madrid (Spain)
  • Bayern Munich (Germany)
  • Borussia Dortmund (Germany)
  • Leicester City (England)
  • Monaco (France)
  • Juventus (Italy)

Here is the fixture list for the quarter-final:

  • Atletico Madrid (Spain) v Leicester City (England)
  • Borussia Dortmund (Germany) v Monaco (France)
  • Bayern Munich (Germany) v Real Madrid (Spain)
  • Juventus (Italy) v Barcelona (Spain)

With such strong teams making it through to the latter stages of the competition, there is no such thing as an easy draw. Atletico, however, has the closest thing to an easy matchup against Premier League Champions, Leicester.

Atletico Madrid v Leicester City – Champions League Quarter-Finals #1

Champions League Quarter Final Leicester v Atletico

Image courtesy of twitter.com

Leicester is the team that constantly defies expectations. From surviving relegation in 2015 to winning the Premier League in 2016. They are now trying to defy people even further, by trying to win the UCL. This will not be easy, however, as they are the only team that is outside of the top four in their respective leagues. Standing in their way, however, is a strong and organized Atletico Madrid side.

Under Diego Simone, Atletico has been to two finals in the last three years. They are currently sitting in fourth position in La Liga, and with the likes of Antoine Griezmann, they should have more than enough class to overcome Leicester.

Borussia Dortmund v Monaco – Champions League Quarter Finals #2

Image courtesy of twitter.com

Monaco is coming into the quarter-finals off the back of an amazing 6-6 game with Manchester City in the last round. They are looking strong domestically and currently sit atop Ligue 1, with Falcao finding the form that moved him to the UK. Monaco hope that they can continue their strong push in the tournament.

Dortmund had a slight scare in the first leg of their round of 16 tie against Benfica. They did, however, manage to bounce back and win the second leg 4-0. Combine this with decent league form and four wins in their last five games. Dortmund hope they have what it takes to reach the semi-finals.

Bayern Munich v Real Madrid – Champions League Quarter Finals #3

Champions League Quarter Final Bayern v Munich

Image courtesy of twitter.com

Well, this is the game that most people would have been happy to see in the final. Instead, we are treated to this game in the Champion League quarter-finals. This is the opportunity for current Bayern boss Carlo Ancelotti, to go up against his former employers. Bayern is coming into the quarter-finals following the 10-2 demolition of Arsenal. The winner of this game will surely make the final, and should possibly be considered the favorites for the title.

Real are one of the best teams in the world. They are currently two points clear at the top of La Liga, with a game in hand. After defeating Napoli 6-2 on aggregate, Real should be full of confidence heading into the quarter-finals, and look to show once again why many consider them the best side in the world.

Juventus v Barcelona – Champions League Quarter-Finals #4

Champions League Quarter-Finals Juventus v Barceclona

Image courtesy of twitter.com

The quarter-final between Juve and Barca may turn out to be the one to watch, as the best defense faces off against the best attack. Juve comes into the quarter-final having only conceded two goals throughout the competition. Juve is dominating domestically and is likely to take home the Serie A title. They hope that with a strong defense, they can frustrate Barca who looked vulnerable in the last round.

The round of 16 was a time to forget for Barca. Losing 4-0 to PSG in the first leg was something that should never have happened. They managed to turn it around with an emphatic performance at home, but things will not be so easy against Juve. Barca is currently the leading goalscorers in the competition with 26 in total. They hope that the MSN trio can carve Juve open, as they have done with so many other teams this year.

Who do you think will make it through to the next round? Let us know in the comments below.

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Is Wenger’s Arsenal Exit Imminent?

Turbulent 2017

At the beginning of the season, it seemed very difficult to believe that Arsenal fans would be calling for manager Arsene Wenger’s head this season. Following a lackluster start start to 2017, the Frenchman’s future at the club is very much in question.

Following a 3-1 defeat to Liverpool on the weekend, the Gunners were thrashed again by Bayern Munich 5-1 knocking them out of the Champions League. Before Tuesday’s match vs Bayern, fans brought signs to the Emirates stadium which read “Wenger out”. After all of the success he has had at the club, could Arsene Wenger really be sacked?

Bayern Munich embarrassed Arsenal 10-2 on aggregate in their Champions League tie.

Well yes, but its very unlikely. Wenger’s contract expires at the end of the season and there are already rumors of him leaving in the summer. It wouldn’t make sense for Arsenal to sack him mid-season as it would shake the club up even more. Arsenal are out of the title race and European competition. With not much to play for, a sacking of a club legend surely wouldn’t be worth the media backlash.

Wait Until Summer?

Another factor at play is Wenger’s influence on Arsenal’s top players. A respected manager, Wenger helped draw Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil to Arsenal despite both players enjoying massive success at Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively.

Wenger leaving would almost certainly mean the end of Sanchez’s time with the Gunners. The Chilean winger has been rumored to be unsettled and linked with clubs such as Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain. Ozil could also be tempted by a move as he has been somewhat of a scapegoat at Arsenal this season.

Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez could potentially follow their manager out of Arsenal this summer.

While the current results are not acceptable for a club like Arsenal, would a change necessarily improve thing? Wenger is arguably the greatest figure in club history and his departure would be comparable to Sir Alex Ferguson leaving Manchester United in 2013.

Four years later and United are still not the same side they were. It definitely heeds a warning to Arsenal who would almost certainly lose Sanchez and/or Ozil if Wenger leaves in the summer.

It is a difficult decision that may become clearer at the end of the season. However, at the moment, Arsenal are not performing up to standard. But a managerial change would start a rebuilding process they may not want to endure.

 

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Can Guardiola Make the Difference for Manchester City?

Building on Last Year

Manchester City’s run in the Champions League last year was halted by Cristiano Ronaldo & Real Madrid.

 As Manchester City prepare for another run in the knockout stages of the Champions League, the burning question is whether or not the addition of decorated manager Pep Guardiola can push City over the top and into the winner’s circle. Last season, Manuel Pellegrini led City to the semifinals, the furthest they have ever gone in the competition. Guardiola, who won the tournament twice while managing Barcelona in addition to several deep runs in the tournament, knows how to organize his players on the main stage.

While very talented, Manchester City do not have the quality of European giants such as Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid. Striker Sergio Aguero and midfielder Kevin De Bruyne are world class and City have very talented youth. However, if the Champions League trophy makes it’s way to Manchester this season, it will be a result of Guardiola’s tactical genius and his ability to outsmart opposing managers.

No Easy Path

 

Monaco has scored more goals than any other club in Europe’s top five leagues this season.

City’s first test starts this week against French Ligue 1 leaders Monaco. Monaco boast an amazing 76 goals in 26 league games this season and have reignited the career of former Chelsea and Man Utd striker Radamel Falcao. The club from the south coast of France also fields several young talents, many of whom have been linked to major European clubs. Midfielders Thomas Lemar and Fabinho both feature on WhoScored.com’s Ligue XI of the year.

The key for Guardiola and Co. against Monaco is to control the tempo and not get bitten on the counter attack. Monaco don’t play possession, instead the strike quickly and decisively once they gain possession. Manchester City’s questionable defense will be tested and young John Stones will need to step up against the quick strike ability of Monaco. Yaya Toure is another player to watch as he needs to be careful not to get caught creeping to far forward in the midfield.

If Manchester City are precise with the ball and avoid mistakes, they should have enough control of the tempo to get by Monaco, but it isn’t easy to stay mistake free for ninety minutes, and Monaco will certainly put them to the test.

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Can Arsenal Break Round of 16 Curse?

As the match-ups for the Round of 16 were announced in December, Arsenal fans saw a picture that is all too familiar for them. Six consecutive seasons and six consecutive exits in the Round of 16 have shown Arsenal’s consistency, but also their underwhelming tendencies on the big stage.

The opponent this season is Bayern Munich. The Bavarian giants have twice been responsible for the Gunners’ early exits in recent years. This season, it will once again be a tall task to get by. Arsene Wenger will return to the touchline for Wednesday’s first leg and Munich and that is some rare good news for the Gunners.

Arsene Wenger will hope to end a run of six consecutive Round of 16 exits for the Gunners.

Midfielder Mesut Ozil will need to be in top form if Arsenal are going to keep up with Bayern’s scoring prowess. Ozil is one of the few players on Wenger’s squad who’s talent is equal to his Bayern opponents. It will be paramount for Ozil and Prem top scorer Alexis Sanchez to show up. Defensively, Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi are a quality centre back pairing, but they don’t face strikers the quality of Robert Lewandowski week in and week out in England. For Wenger and Co. it will be important to keep themselves in the tie on Wednesday so they have a shot when these two sides meet again at the Emirates in March.

Bayern are yet to recapture the magic they had in 2013, winning the tournament over arch rivals Borussia Dortmund. Carlo Ancelotti’s first season with the club has seen the look underwhelming at times in the Bundesliga. Nevertheless, the former Madrid manager has Bayern seven points atop the table and his European successes make him a dangerous opponent in this tournament.

Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski will be a handful for the Arsenal defense.

Lewandowski has as strong a case as any for world’s best striker. With him and an attack that also includes Arjen Robben, Thomas Muller and Douglas Costa among others, Bayern are always a threat to put up goals. And defensively, Sanchez and Co. will have their hands full on the attack against arguably the best back four in the tournament, and the world’s best goalkeeper, Manuel Neuer. Many would say Bayern have the most complete side in the world and that is why they are among the favorites to lift the trophy in Cardiff this spring.

If Bayern avoid mistakes and play to the level we have accustomed them to playing, it will take something pretty special from Arsenal to advance. A good result on Wednesday could shift momentum in the Gunners’ favor, but they are clearly over-matched here. Arsenal do not have the talent at fullback and on the wing to compete with Bayern’s outside talent and that will turn out to be the Gunners downfall in a seventh consecutive Round of 16 exit.

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Champions League Prospects for City, Arsenal, Leicester

 

The Premier League has the world wide reputation for being the “best league in the world”. It is by far the most widely covered and pulls in the highest television and media revenue. But year in and your out in the past five years, Premier League teams have consistently disappointed on the big stage of European football. This year, the usual four English teams have already been cut to three after Tottenham failed to qualify for the knockout round. This leaves Manchester City, Arsenal and reigning Premier League Champs Leicester City as the three remaining hopes among English clubs.

Manchester City: Rd of 16 match-up vs Monaco

Sergio Aguero will look to lead Manchester City on a deep run in the Champions League

The Good:

City have been wildly inconsistent in all competitions in its first year under Pep Guardiola. However, they have shown they can beat anyone when playing well. They took down Barcelona 3-1 in the group stages. Guardiola is one of the most highly regarded managers in the world. It is difficult to imagine a Guardiola led side exiting Champions League in the Round of 16. City also have supreme talent on the pitch. Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero are two of the premier players on the planet. Raheem Sterling has had a bit of a resurgence under Guardiola.

The Bad:

The inconsistencies previously mentioned that have plagued City this season could very well be their downfall in the Champions League. One bad game and they could be in a hole that they cannot escape. Another concern for City is injuries. Particularly at the back where Captain Vincent Kompany is regularly injured and they have lost Ilkay Gundogan for the season. Monaco leads Ligue 1 in scoring by a large margin and will exploit any City holes at the back.

Arsenal: Rd of 16 match-up vs Bayern Munich

 

Mesut Ozil and Co. face a tough opponent in Bayern Munich.

The Good:

The Gunners have no shortage of talent. Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez are good enough to play anywhere. Petr Cech is still a top goalkeeper and Laurent Koscielny heads a strong back line. Like City, Arsenal clearly have upside and can have runs of brilliant play. In a brutally difficult Round of 16 match-up vs Bayern, they will need to be near perfect. But if Sanchez is finishing well and Ozil is given the ball in space, Arsenal could surprise.

The Bad:

Most of the bad for Arsenal comes from their opponent. For all of their talent, they are still severely outmatched by Bayern. It will very difficult for Arsenal to gain possession against the midfield prowess of Xabi Alonso, Arturo Vidal and Thiago. Arsenal will likely have to resort to striking off the counter attack. This is not something that possession minded manager Arsene Wenger likes to deal with. Wenger also does not have a great track record in knockout stages of the Champions League. Arsenal have been eliminated in the Round of 16 every year since 2010.

Leicester City: Rd of 16 match-up vs Sevilla

 

Riyad Mahrez will play a critical role in Leicester’s Champions League exploits.

The Good:

Well, the tale of two Leicester’s in this hangover season for the Foxes continues into the Champions League Round of 16. Claudio Ranieri’s side has looked anemic at times in its quest to defend its Premier League crown. However, in its first Champions League appearance ever, Leicester won their group to qualify for the knockout stage. Riyad Mahrez has looked significantly better in European competition and is the type of player who can single-handedly win you a game. Strikers Jamie Vardy and Islam Slimani also looked impressive in group stages. Leicester are also fortunate to not have drawn a tougher opponent in the Round of 16.

The Bad:

Quick, decisive counter attacking is the trademark style which the Foxes used to stun the world in 2016. However, in European competitions against top opponents, it can be difficult to win using such tactics. Sevilla is a very possession oriented side which will undoubtedly control the matches against Leicester. Can the Foxes find a way to strike swiftly when given a chance? It won’t be easy at this stage in the tournament.

 

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