2019/2020 Champions League Preview

Jacob Sanchez

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The Champions League is an annual competition played in Europe organized by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA). It was originally established in 1955, inspired by the South American Championship of Champions. It is the world’s greatest and most popular club competition.

Statistics:

According to the Official UEFA Champions League website, ever since the start of the Champions League in 1955, there have been 23 different winners, including teams like Real Madrid, A.C Milan, Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Barcelona. Only Real Madrid have been able to win 3 consecutive champion league titles in the Champions League era, from 2016 to 2018. In addition, Madrid also has the all time record for most appearances in the champions league, 44, most matches played, 432, and most wins with 259. 

Cristiano Ronaldo is the current highest goalscorer, assister and with most penalties scored in the Champions league history, with 127 goals scored, 39 assists and 16 penalties scored, respectively. The player with the most matches played is Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas with 181 appearances, 13 more than his former Real Madrid teammate, Ronaldo. (image source: the sun)

How it works:

You may be asking how the champions league works, well this is the format. The best clubs in Europe get drawn into 8 different groups of 4 teams. They play against each other at their arena, and later in their opponents arena. For instance, Real Madrid will play PSG in Paris at the Le Parc des Princes, but will later play them at the Santiago Bernabéu stadium, in Madrid for the reverse fixture. They repeat the same pattern for the two other teams in their group. After six matches, the two teams from all 8 groups who allocated the most points in their respective group, get put into the knockout rounds. 

In the knockout rounds, there are two games, better known as legs, between the teams for each separate fixture. Similar to the Group stage, there is a leg played at one home arena, and the other leg is played at the opponent’s arena. Over two legs, who ever has the more goals goes through to the quarter finals. This system is repeated for the quarter and semi finals. 

The final is decided in an one 90 minute game, with extra time and penalties if needed. 

Key Players:

Europe undoubtedly hosts the finest players in the world, especially those who play in the Champions League. 

Why not start with the greatest player ever to grace the field, Lionel Messi? Messi is really the player that you want to build your attack around. He is magnificent on the ball with his great dribbling, speed, and acceleration. He’s great on both feet to support his superb shooting and passing accuracy. 

The all time leading scorer of the Champions League, Cristiano Ronaldo can carry his team, Juventus to the promised land this season. He is a one of a kind player no one can compare to. The combination of his physicality and strength with his insane speed is simply unstoppable to defend. The striker can change the game in an instant with his clinical and powerful shot, as seen last year against Atletico Madrid in the Round of 16. 

Lastly, Virgil Van Dijk of Liverpool F.C can prove why he is the reigning UEFA player of the year. The 6 foot 4 inch, Dutch center half has the capability to be one of the greatest defenders of all time. His strength and physicality are out of this world, but his defensive awareness and vision he has to the game is what makes him an exceptional defender.

Contending Teams:

There are multiple contending teams to succeed in this year’s competition. Teams like 

Liverpool have the chance to make the Champions League Final for the 3rd time in the last three years. They do not only have one of the best, tactically minded coaches in Jurgen Klopp, the best goalkeeper and defender in Allison Becker and Virgil Van Dijk, but Liverpool undoubtedly has the best front three in Europe. As Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, and Mohammed Salah are creeping more into their prime, the merseyside team do not show any signs of slowing down and challenging for a seventh champions league, the tied second most in history. 

After winning the English treble in 2019, Manchester City are destined to conquer Europe this season. With the experience of two time winner Pep Guardiola, and the great additions of Joao Cancelo and Rodri to their first team, they look ready to contend this year. Their team is also more acknowledged and recognized with each other after multiple years of winning the English Premier League. 

Following an upset defeat to Dutch team Ajax last season, Cristiano Ronaldo and the Italian giants Juventus are looking to win their 3rd champions league, first one since the 1996 final in Rome. With a new philosophy installed by Italian head coach, Maurizio Sarri Juventus, players should be motivated to compete for another trophy. 

The Champions League is looking to have another exhilarating year filled with unthinkable comebacks during the group and knockout rounds, incredible goals and lots of memorable games.

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