Who wins big in Europe this year?
With the World Cup ambience beginning to take centre stage, the European football season is at a crescendo. Success and failure have been experienced by a plethora of European clubs during the season. There’s room for some more. Save for the Serie A, the League title has already been decided in all Europe’s big five leagues. Cup tournaments have either been completed or in its final stage. That includes the European Cup – or what you’ll prefer to call the Champions League.
Now, I’m a fan who sits glued to his TV and enjoys the excitement as European clubs squabble for any remaining piece of silverware Santa football has to give this season. Of course, some aren’t even fighting for a title. I’m well aware. My interest is on teams who will reminisce about the season and be reminded of the shiny gold medals they racked up.
In England, Manchester City has won every domestic title bar the FA Cup. That could go to their cross-city rivals if Chelsea put up a feeble fight.
Barcelona is the Spanish speaking Manchester City. The Blaugrana has won the King’s Cup and could end their successful Liga campaign invincible.
Le Parisiens have conquered France and beaten everyone into submission. No French side matched Paris Saint-Germain for money, nor will any for titles at season’s end.
The Serie A fought back against the Old Lady this season but it looks like Juventus will still take it hostage for the Seventh consecutive time. AC Milan can mount a roadblock for Juve in the Coppa.
There’s nothing new in Germany. The Bundesliga has been scooped by the usual winners. Underdog supporters like myself are hoping that Eintracht Frankfurt stops the Bavarians from winning the domestic double on May 19.
For teams who spend ear-tingling sums on transfers yearly, the measure of success has moved from winning the domestic League to winning the Champions League. Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain were both league-winners but look ripped off, having failed to lay their hands on the giant trophy.
The winners of the major trophy that eluded the rich boys can smile home as Europe’s big winners this term. Hey, we’ll save a seat for the Europa League winners too. The competition has become more interesting and rewarding.
Los Merengues will end the season with no trophy if they fail to win one in the Kyiv final on 26th May. It’s useless trying to overemphasise the humongous nature of the Champions League. Barcelona holds La Liga and the King’s Cup but the Catalans will exchange both for Europe’s biggest chalice in a heartbeat.
Real is on course to make history. Their gluey grip on the Champions League makes them Europe’s most successful club in the last few years.
It’s fathomable how Liverpool reached the Champions League final with such an average defence that concede at least one goal per game. Their secret is in their attack. With a tournament-high 40 goals, the Reds are scoring 3.3 goals per match in European competition.
Real Madrid must be at its defensive A-game to escape a catastrophic score-line. Even then, who can stop the Red’s attacking triumvirate?
The reigning European kings have not failed to score a goal in the Champions League match this season. Liverpool won’t stop them from doing so in the final. Still, I expect Jurgen Klopp’s men to expose Madrid’s frailties and win the trophy.
Dimitri Payet has carried OM since he moved from England. The Olympians will surely be hoping that their inspirational captain can carry them a step further. Again, there’s no hope for a domestic trophy for OM this season so the Europa League presents an opportunity for Marseille to win their first title since 2002. Success in Europe will mean the world to Marseille.
Getting knocked out of the Champions League at the group stage isn’t such a bad idea. Especially when you can make it all the way to the Europa League final. La Rojiblancos stand a big chance of ending their topsy-turvy campaign on a high if they can better Marseille on16th May. They’ll have to do that without their controversial gaffer barking orders from the touchline. Diego Simeone is serving a four-game touchline ban.
Marseille will put up a staunch fight but they’ll ultimately collapse to the more experienced, ruthless and clinical Atleti.