With football kicking off this week, albeit without fans, I thought I would take the time to express some of my predictions for the upcoming season.
Top Four: Man City, Chelsea and Arsenal
Relegation: Sheffield United, WBA, and Fulham
Team to Watch: Newcastle Utd
After Liverpool’s long-awaited success, and a short break due to Covid-19, the Champions were back in action. However, it is the blue side of Manchester who are strong favourites to take the spoils come, well…whenever the season ends. It is understandable for Man City to be favourites, but Liverpool will still be the team to beat. Personally, It would have been nice to see if Pep Guardiola is ever able to coach himself to a successful league win, rather than buy himself glory. The gap will be closer, but Liverpool still have enough quality, and are more of a team than what Man City seems to be.
Arsenal and Chelsea will likely make up the rest of the top four after improving their squads. A year since selling Hazard, Chelsea have finally cashed in the money they had made by bringing in Werner and Kravetz, both of which are amazing talents. Arsenal managed to keep all of their main stars, and brought in a favourite of mine, Willian. Both the aforementioned teams have better managers than that of Man Utd, and a better team than Tottenham.
As for relegation, Fulham and West Bromwich Albion are just not good enough to be in the Premier League. As for Sheffield United, they could have done with a longer break to help their players recover from what was a magnificent season. I suspect they will pay for that, this year.Championship
Champion: Norwich City The most difficult league in the world! Which is why Norwich have the quality in its ranks to rise above the rest. In Teemo Pukki, they will have one of the league’s best players, with the ability to win games by himself. Unlike the other two teams that dropped out the Premier League, they kept the majority of their star players, whereas Watford sold Doucoure, and Bournemouth let Callum Wilson and Fraser go to Newcastle, Ake to Man City, and Ramsdale to Sheffield Utd. The latter of the three will likely struggle a lot to make up for the goals, and creativity they have sold, unless they use the 80 million they now have in the bank.
Playoffs: Swansea, Stoke, Bristol City, and Brentford
Relegation: Rotherham, Wycombe, and Coventry
One team that doesn’t have the luxury of being active in the transfer market is Sheffield Wednesday. They were hit with a 12-point deduction, which they have reduced to nine after beating Cardiff. Normally, such a points deduction would be crippling, but I expect them to claw back the deficit, and hang on for safety come the end of the season.
Spanish La Liga I am sure that this will not be a popular opinion, but I find La Liga to be incredibly dull! I used to tune-in to watch El Classico, but even that has lost its charm. You have a league that gives more than 50% of the TV money to Barcelona and Real Madrid, and then is shocked to see them both fight for the league. In fact, describing the Spanish League teams are easy…
Champion: Real Madrid
Real Madrid, spends and spends until it can win, and doesn’t care about it’s players.Barcelona, a place where average players are made to look like super stars. Pedro looked amazing, came to Chelsea, and was turd, and don’t even get me started on Busquets – my most hatred player of all time, which I will explain more about in a future post.
Atletico Madrid…a team where I am sure that 90% of their training sessions doesn’t even require a ball.Sevilla…make sure you know how to dive well…be more convincing.
Valencia, a team that tries to play in the right way, but lacks the money to ever get back to the successes of yesteryear!
On a Side Note: Why Did Leo Want To Leave Barcelona?
When it comes to Spanish football, the authority on the topic is Guillem Ballague. According to him, Messi wants to win things, and he doesn’t see that happening at Barcelona anymore. That pessimism only worsened Messi’s feeling regarding the doings of Barcelona president, Josep Maria Bartomeu. Messi wanted Ernesto Valverde (ex-Barcelona coach) to stay, but Bartomeu sacked him. Messi also insisted that Barca re-sign Neymar from Paris St. Germain (PSG), and not to sign Antoine Griezzman from rivals Atletico. Neymar is still at PSG, and Griezmann has been at Barca for a year.
Messi’s feelings only worsened after seeing Real Madrid lift the La Liga title, and then get hammered by Bayern Munich, 8-2, in the Champions League. With everything that has gone on, Messi, by fax, stressed his desire to leave on a free. Basically, there is a clause that states he could leave for free if he put in a request before a certain date, however, that date had passed. Legally, Barcelona did not have to let him leave, and Bartomeu exercised that right, even threatening a legal case that would drag any team that was willing to take Messi on.
My personal feeling is that Messi wanted to send a message to the footballing world that he is finally allowing himself the opportunity to play in another league, something that no one ever thought would happen. I believe that he knew he wouldn’t be allowed to go, and you can’t blame the Barcelona management for exercising their legal rights. The declaration by Messi was to put pressure on Bartomeu – who he dislikes – and allow teams like Man City, Man Utd, PSG and the rest to come up with a contract for next year, when he will be free to leave. Ideally, he joins up with Ronaldo, and we see how the two of them play together. Would be a treat, even if they’re not at the peak of their powers anymore.
Going to be interesting to see how Messi conducts himself this season.
Champion: Inter Milan
Top Four: Juventus, Atalanta and Lazio
Juventus are one title win away from making it 10 wins in a row, which makes my prediction a little surprising, I am sure. However, last year, Inter Milan, under the guidance of Antonio Conte, pushed Juventus all the way, and I expect them to do one better this year. With rumours that Luis Suarez is about to join the likes of Dybala and Ronaldo at Juve, it should make them even more formidable, but personally, I am looking at the man in charge, and thinking that it’s not going to be as successful a year for them. I just find it difficult to believe that there was no one better equipped to take on the job than Andrea Pirlo. I get that he was an incredible player, but so was Ronaldinho, and yet he couldn’t even manage his finances. Not for a second am I saying that Andrea Pirlo will end up in a Brazilian prison, but he definitely shouldn’t be at the helm.
If Juve do win the title, then it will be one of the most closely fought out wins you will have seen in a while, especially with the likes of Atalanta, Roma, Napoli, AC Milan, and Lazio not being far off the pace, of which, AC Milan will be my outsiders to break into the top four, instead of Lazio or Atalanta.
Germany and France
Champions: Bayern Munich and PSG
They buy their rivals’ best players… enough said.
Champion: Istanbul BB
Istanbul BB, a government-run team, have been consistent for a number of years, before breaking their duck last year and taking the title they had been threatening to take for a while. They are very likely to be thereabouts again, which can’t be said for runners-up Trabzonspor, who can’t seem to get hold of striker Alexander Sorloth, who they had on loan last season. Galatasaray, on the other hand, can’t seem to get rid of some of the deadwood occupying its roster. Falcao spent most of last season injured, but has started this one with a double, Arda Turan is back as captain, and the general atmosphere around the club is positive. Will be interesting to see how long that lasts. Probably not as long as Younes Belhanda, who refuses to leave the club, despite no one wanting him to stay for almost three years now.
Well, there you have it…Online proof of my predictions, which may backfire come the end of the season. After all, two years ago, my pick for the English League Two title, Notts County, ended up being relegated.
Who are your selected winners and losers?
Note: I will cover the International competitions, as well as the Champions League, Europa League, and various leagues from around the globe at a later time…