Real Madrid and Barcelona at the top also for the habit of success. Liverpool and Seville the most affordable. How much is Bayern?
Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and then all the others, starting from the City. The Martians and the Terrans. They are no longer very young, but the heirs, from Neymar to Dybala, have yet to prove themselves. The performance of power and class in the second round, the decisive goals, the impressive superiority, as if their teams played in twelve, obliged to consider Real Madrid and Barcelona, once again, the very favorite (they also won the last 4 finals ). The others can only wish a Spanish derby, out of one, but could be affected by the same syndrome: possible Juve-Roma and City-Liverpool in a draw of the quarters with no more constraints. Everyone against everyone. The City offers an uncomfortable third after a spectacular season and without rivals in the Premier, even if Europe is another story. But how to neglect the ruthless and solid Juventus of Champions? And Bayern is always there and, last year, could (deserved to) eliminate the Real?
the Italians – Two Italians in the quarters did not happen since 2007. At the usual Juventus Roma has added that seems to have finally found a balance between the original philosophy of Di Francesco and a less «sacchiano» but more reliable structure, with Dzeko centering modern and Alisson who is perhaps the best goalkeeper in the circuit. Objective: to surprise. No surprise for Juve: the comeback on
Tottenham is scary to rivals, nobody wants a team that does not play, in defense has an unsurpassable bunker since Benatia (but disqualified a round, like Pjanic, severe absences) and a tactical and psychological maturity with few equals. The work of Allegri is extraordinary, to imagine losing a third final seems like a nightmare.
real madrid – More or less strong last year? These days, after eliminating Napoli, Real was not the number one threat. He has not stopped anymore, overcoming Bayern in dubious circumstances and overwhelming Juventus in the craziest shooting in the world. Zidane, the first to break down the taboo of the two consecutive Champions won, has found balance with Isco for Bale, one more man in the middle and Casemiro central dam. But it’s poised: o Champions or goodbye. Independent variable CR7 that has humiliated an immature and inferior Psg in the technical guide. Excluded finals, Juve is almost always the best, but we will not challenge tradition.
Barcelona – Evaluating from the point of view of La Liga there would be no doubt: Barça is stronger than Real. It is not said that this is the case in Europe. Valverde is doing a great job of adaptation, having to manage also the new Dembélé and Paulinho who have enriched a team last year suffering in spare parts. Said of the sublime Messi, what impressed is the defensive solidity: the growth of Umtiti, the lower propensity to risky experiments compared to the time of Luis Enrique, a 4-4-2 that protects better than 4-3-3 with Neymar. Less pressing, more waiting. In the group, at Camp Nou, he outclassed Juventus, but they were other times. To be avoided anyway.
Manchester City – Guardiola has almost two teams, can afford Fernandinho, Sterling and Gabriel Jesus on the bench, has the best percentage of achievement (25%) and the best possession (66%, like Barça). It offers the most spectacular and fast football, and seems less inclined to offer the other cheek (last year he played the Monaco game by offering himself on the counterattack and taking 6 goals). More solid defense, with a rediscovered Gundogan and a De Bruyne on levels never seen before: for now we can offer a formula with five really offensive elements. But in the Champions League there are other factors, including the habit of commitments that make the legs shake. Beyond the interpreters in the field, we believe that it will be the interpretation of Guardiola to give the exact figure of this City. Potentially very strong.
Bayern – Usual (and solid), compact, German, Bayern post-Ancelotti has found safety and results: Lewandowski is the Django of the area, the 4-2-3-1 can become 4-3-3 with James Rodriguez mezzala and Ribery for Robben, defense is reliable. Neuer, however, has not recovered. At this point, the unknown value is the actual value: after the PSG in the groups, in fact, Heynckes’s breakthrough came, but in Germany there was not an opponent at the height. And also in Europe the draw of the second round (Besiktas) was friendly. He has a crazy desire to “take revenge” of Real. Some big seems preferable. It seems.
Liverpool – If the championship classification means something, the 21 points between Liverpool (4th) and City are a ruthless x-ray. Better the Reds, clear. But Klopp knows how to do it in Europe, Salah on the counterattack is irresistible, Mané an arrow, Firmino makes those around him play well. And Can the desire of Juve. In defense he can dance. Both Juventus and Rome have memories for a thousand painful reasons in two Champions League finals, but on the field it seems affordable.
Seville – The big surprise of the quarters with the new technician, Montella, the third Italian in contention, which led him to the quarterfinals. Di Francesco and Montella are true friends, Monchi would return home: a thousand meanings around the weaker Spanish, perhaps magnified by United. From Vazquez to Banega to Kjaer, many “ex”, plus a former object of the Juventus desire (N’Zonzi). Good feet in the middle, no absolute champion, the psychological charge of the two goals by Ben Yedder not to be overlooked.