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With the ’20 / ’21 UCL group stage draw having taken place, it’s time to look at the hottest fixtures and matchups happening in this season’s Champions League.
Chelsea have come off a historic summer spending spree, as they brought in high-class players in Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, Hakim Ziyech, Thiago Silva, Ben Chilwell, and several others. Spending over 200 million to improve their team, which already had American superstar Christian Pulisic and World-Cup winning defensive-mid N’Golo Kanté, Chelsea will be hoping to move past the 7-1 aggregate loss to Bayern Munich in last season’s UCL. Having had a shaky start to their Prem season, with draws against West Brom and Brighton, along with a resounding 2-0 loss against Liverpool, Lampard’s Chelsea is looking to emerge stronger than before in Europe.
Sevilla has just come off a Europa League-winning campaign, (once again!) and pose a threat to any team. They are currently undefeated in their three games played in La Liga. This matchup will be crucial for both teams as both teams will look to top the group. The positional matchup to watch out in this matchup will be Sevilla’s wingers – Lucas Ocampos, Suso, and Munir – against Chelsea’s fullbacks – Reece James and Ben Chilwell. Sevilla’s wingers have caused many fullbacks troubles, and Chelsea’s fullbacks will hope to limit the number of crosses from the wings and long balls directed towards the flanks.
This will be a redraw of the ’18/’19 UCL round of 16 matchup, where Man U came back late in the second leg to advance, leaving PSG with another disappointing UCL campaign. PSG who were semi-finalists in last season’s final loss, to a worthy Bayern team have shown that with their players fit, they are one of the best in Europe. With Neymar, Di Maria, and Mbappe forming a formidable front three, Man U’s defense will be in for many surprises in the matchup. Currently, Man U is having many defensive problems and goalkeeper David De Gea is not the best form either, so we can expect PSG to go full-attack mode and score goals.
However, Man U does have a star-studded front three with Greenwood, Martial, and Rashford, along with their Portuguese-star Bruno Fernandes. Presnel Kimpembe to lead the defense and create a stable defense. The key positional matchup will be Kylian Mbappe against Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka. Mbappe’s speed and finishing ability are second to none and will cause problems whether he is situated in the center or he is coming in from the far left. Solskjaer will have to start Fred and/or McTominay to create a block and avoid a frontal assault from PSG’s talisman Neymar and midfielders Paredes and Veratti.
This is the most crucial and important matchup to watch out for in this season’s UCL and is one all soccer fans cannot wait for. Everyone will be watching Ronaldo v. Messi. It is important to remember that soccer is a team game. And there is no better team matchup than Juventus v. Barcelona in this year’s UCL. Juventus are looking for their 10th consecutive Scudetto and have had an average start to the Serie A season. With additions of Kulusevski and Arthur, along with Demiral and Chiellini returning from injury, Juventus continue to boast a strong XI. Ronaldo has continued where he left off last season, and as everyone knows there is no one better in the UCL than CR7. Pirlo has brought a new dynamic to Juve’s game, especially their defense, which had its problems last year under Sarri. Their midfield has also gotten a boost, now that Pirlo is the manager. Barcelona on the other hand, have added Pjanic and Dest this summer along with returning UCL winner Coutinho, Barcá can also field a strong XI.
Their main man so far has been 17-year old Ansu Fati, while Coutinho has had excellent outings. With the burden on Messi lowered from last season, Koeman has effectively made Barcelona a much stronger team. The key positional matchup besides Ronaldo v. Messi will be Barca’s forwards – Griezmann, Messi, and Fati – against Juve’s defense. Pirlo will have a tough task choosing a CB duo of either experienced Chiellini and Bonucci, or youngsters Demiral and De Ligt (currently injured), or even a combination like we saw last season.
With the season set to begin on October 20, it will be fascinating to watch the players and teams try and win the most prestigious trophy in club football.
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