In the midst of the outbreak of coronavirus cases, a new edition of the maximum continental competition at club level in Europe begins. The candidates.
The anthem created by Tony Britten that bristles the skin of all football fans in the world will sound again this Tuesday when 58 days after the final that crowned Bayern Munich over Paris Saint-Germain in Lisbon the group stage of a new edition is activated of the Champions League, number 66 in its history and 29 since its current name.
There are 32 teams, 26 of which qualified directly, while the remaining six did so through the playoffs, those who will seek glory and a ticket to the FIFA Club World Cup in a Cup that distributes in total among its participants over 2 billion euros in prizes and that due to the pandemic begins a month later than expected. Likewise, the final is held on May 29, 2021 at the Atatürk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul.
By provision of UEFA, up to 30 percent of the local public will be allowed in the stadiums as long as they have the approval of the health organization of each place. The Super Cup test between Bayern Munich and Seville, in Budapest on September 24, was satisfactory and there will be encouragement in the stands.
The eyes of all will return to rest on the maximum European competition, which brings together the most powerful and that for Lionel Messi will have a special flavor since it could be the last one to dispute with the Barcelona shirt.
The best player in the world has less than a year left on his contract and everything can happen with his football future since after the 2-8 suffered against the Germans he wanted to leave arguing a wear with the leadership and the lack of an ambitious project to seriously aspire to keep this trophy that Leo He was able to lift four times: 2006, 2009, 2011 and 2015.
Will he renew or will he leave when at the end of this season he is no longer tied by any legal bond with the institution he loves but no longer fulfills him? The only answer is 10 Rosario and maybe even he doesn’t know what he will do. Getting his fifth Orejona from Ronald Koeman could change everything. Or not. For now, the Catalan leadership did not make a large investment to strengthen the squad in order to fight the competition that has eluded it for 5 years.
With this uncertainty, Barcelona and Messi will face this Champions League, whose main attraction in the group stage is the crossing between the Argentine and Cristiano Ronaldo, who with Paulo Dybala’s Juventus fell in Zone G where the Barça team is also and that they complete Dynamo Kiev from Ukraine and Ferencvaros from Hungary.
Lionel and Cristiano will meet again for the first time after the Portuguese left Real Madrid. That will happen on the second date, October 28 in Turin. The return will be on December 8 in Spain, on the last day of this stage.
For the third time these two stars will meet in the Champions League, always with Ronaldo wearing different jackets: in 2009 it was in the final between Barcelona and Manchester United and in 2011 it was in the semifinals in the Spanish derby. Messi was the winner both times. One fact: every time he ran into Cristiano, Leo raised the Cup …
But there are other contenders for the title who seem to be better prepared from football and who will go for their own thing. Undoubtedly, the great candidate is the last champion: Bayern Munich, who will try to get the two-time championship with a very similar squad. He is part of Group A, with Atlético de Madrid, Salzburg of Austria and Lokomotiv of Moscow. He Tool of the Cholo Simeone is recharged with the incorporation of Luis Suárez and will try that that scoring card makes him go very far.
The one who got the thorn stuck is PSG of the Argentines Angel Di María and Leandro Paredes and Mauro Icardi, Neymar and Mbappé. The final lost against the Bavarians was a hard blow, although they are now ready for a rematch. It will not be easy at all since they had one of the most competitive groups, H, along with Manchester United, Basaksehir of Turkey and Leipzig, who hit the ball last season by reaching the semifinals.
But the call group of death It could undoubtedly be the D, which contains Liverpool, champion in 2018-19, Ajax that of Nicolás Tagliafico, the Atalanta of Alejandro Gómez who has been going strong with his game in Calcio and Midtjylland, Denmark’s debut team.
Real Madrid, for its part, wants to regain supremacy on the continent in the last two years. He is the head of Zone B that has Inter from Lautaro Martínez, Shakhtar and Borussia Mönchengladbach.
Pep Guardiola does not lower his arms and will once again put all the focus on the Champions League with his Manchester City, which already has Sergio Agüero recovered. It integrates Zone C with Porto, Olympiacos and Olympique de Marseille. And to think that at one point City was not going to be able to participate since it received a sanction on February 14 for having gone against UEFA’s licensing regulations and financial fair play. But in July came the ruling of the TAS that lifted the punishment of two years without competing in Cups.
The latest Europa League winner Seville is in Group E and competing with Chelsea, another powerful Englishman, Russian rookie Krasnodar and Stade Rennes. Meanwhile, Group F has Zenit, Dortmund, Lazio and Bruges.
The first day already delivers hot duels between this Tuesday and Wednesday. It will be a sample of what this compelling European event promises. The matches in Argentina will be seen in the time slots of 1:55 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.