11 - 02
By Guillaume Mahot
We have been waiting for nearly two months but next week will be both relief and liberation. At least for football fans!
The Champions’ League returns, and what a way to be back: with four games planned in the first week (first leg games of 8th finals, the last four being played the week after), the European competition will give us a few answers since many questions were raised this winter.
Is Real Madrid still sick? Overtaken by Barcelona in Spanish league, the Merengues will defy Paris Saint-Germain on Valentine’s day. Neymar, Cavani, Mbappé will have to justify their reputation of best attack line in Europe. An elimination so early in the tournament would be badly felt by the board who invested about 400 million euros last summer. Real Madrid, double European champion in title, does not care and crushed Real Sociedad 5-2 yesterday as a final repetition before the big shock. Maybe, surely the most expected game of this first round.
On Tuesday, Tottenham Hotspurs of Ivorian right back Serge Aurier will be opposed to Juventus Turin of Ghanaian Kwadwo Asamoah. Unfortunate finalists in 2017, the Bianconeri will have a lot to do facing up with Harry Kane, the unstoppable English forward supervised by Real for the next season.
The same day, Basel will try to make impossible possible in front of irresistible Manchester City of Pep Guardiola. The leaders of Premier League, led by Sergio Agüero who scored four goals against Leicester this weekend, are expected to make short work of the Swiss squad. Will Yaya Touré and his teammates impress and confirm before a team that always fought well on the European scene?
At last, Porto and Liverpool will confront each other in this first week where Senegalese Sadio Mané will live his first 8th final of Champions’ League. Egyptian Mohamed Salah will lead the attack of the Reds with Mané and Roberto Firmino on the lands of the European champions 2004.