The Bundesliga is one of the most entertaining and exciting domestic leagues in the world, and with it getting underway this week, fans all around the world will be extremely pleased. The German league has some of the best and most enthralling teams in the world and they have some of the best players on the planet, and like every season, there will be a lot to talk about, discuss and debate as the 2017-18 campaign develops.
Alexis Sanchez is one of the best players in the Premier League and arguably the most important player at Arsenal. The Chile international forward had a very good season on a personal level in 2016-17 despite the Gunners failing to finish in the Champions League places.
Arsenal are one of the biggest clubs in the world and have a global fanbase, but with no Champions League football next season and their chances of winning the Premier League title looking slim, one can understand why Sanchez has been linked with a move away from the Emirates Stadium. Continue reading
Manchester City made their first serious stride forward in the Champions League last season, reaching the semi-finals of the competition. Manuel Pellegrini guided them through a group containing Juventus and Sevilla, finishing top of the table ahead of the Italian giants, despite losing both matches to Massimiliano Allegri’s men.
City scraped into fourth place in the Premier League last season, securing their place in this year’s tournament, although they were forced to see off Steaua Bucharest in their play-off fixture. The draw for the group stage set up a mouth-watering clash between Pep Guardiola and his former team Barcelona in a fierce battle for top spot in Group C, while Borussia Monchengladbach and Celtic will attempt to provide resistance.
With Guardiola at the helm, City will be eyeing a breakthrough on the continent with their first European success, and given the investment poured into the team over the past eight years it is time for the club to become a force alongside Barca, Real and Bayern Munich. The Citizens are backed at 12/1 in the latest Champions League odds to win the crown for the first time, although they will have a major challenge ahead of them to end Spain’s recent dominance.
As expected, City have started strongly under Guardiola’s tenure, winning all three of their Premier League matches thus far this season. However, their victories over Sunderland and West Ham United at the Etihad Stadium were far from convincing. Despite failing to put together a complete performance in the early stages of the campaign, City are top of the table, with Chelsea and bitter rivals Manchester United for company.
Their display in their 5-0 hammering of Steaua was far more straightforward, although the standard of opposition was far below what they can expect for the remainder of the term across all four competitions. Sergio Aguero has hit the ground running in the new season, notching six goals in his opening five matches, including a hat-trick in the away leg in Bucharest. The Argentine holds the key to how far his side will progress in the Champions League this time around.
Should he produce his best form on the continent then City will have a chance to match the firepower of the dominant teams in the competition. The 28-year-old was put under too much pressure last season as Wilfried Bony failed to fire, while Kelechi Iheanacho did not score in his four European matches.New signings Nolito and Leroy Sane will ease the strain on Aguero, while Raheem Sterling and Kevin de Bruyne will have benefited from a year to acclimatise to their new club, building a rapport with the Argentine spearheading the attack.
Guardiola has proven that he is not afraid to make big changes at the club, having removed Joe Hart from between the sticks and sent the England international out on loan to Torino. He has now followed that decision by leaving Yaya Toure out of his squad for the group stage. Toure has been a polarising figure at the Etihad Stadium over recent seasons. The Ivorian has displayed brilliance at times on the pitch, but has also had the propensity to put in a number of sub-standard performances. His attitude has also come into question, and the latest development could see his time at the club come to an end.
The 33-year-old’s absence will make Vincent Kompany’s return to action even more pressing for the Citizens given his leadership qualities. His injury problems have played a huge role in City’s struggles to add further trophies to their collection over the past two years. An extended absence this term could be mitigated by the signing of Jon Stones, while Nicolas Otamendi has appeared more comfortable in his second season. However, City’s success could well hinge on how much playing time their skipper can handle on the continent this term.
Borussia Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke has said that the German national team manager Joachim Loew should be looking at the possibility of using Borussia Dortmund over Bayern Munich players because they have clearly proved over the season that they are much better. Borussia Dortmund managed to trump Bayern Munich to the league title and also to the DFB Polkal cup as well. Bayern Munich then went on to suffer defeat in the final of the Champions League, thus obtaining the unwanted recognition of being the first side since Bayern Leverkusen to finish runners-up in every competition.
Germany have already experienced being the runners-up in the Euro 2008. They finished runners-up to Spain back then, but will be looking to go all the way this time around. Spain certainly were one of the favourites ahead of the tournament, but their stock has decreased slightly following the injuries to David Villa and Carlos Puyol. Further, the poor form of Fernando Torres has not helped matters at all. Germany, on the other hand, will have a number of players in top condition, although Watzke believes that the Borussia Dortmund players have proved over the season that they are extremely good. Five players from the Dortmund squad have been included in the preliminary squad for the Euro 2012.
“I think it is completely impossible that no Dortmund player should stand in the starting line-up at the European Championship. For me, this is not an issue. If you are the German champions and cup winners, then one must assume that this performance is recognised in accordance with the national team. Jogi Low is a great coach and I assume he will make the right decisions in every case. Players such as Hummels, Gundogan, Gotze, Bender and Schmelzer could play for any big club in the world,” he told Bild.
Former Real Madrid manager Bernd Schuster has said that she believes that German club Bayern Munich face a difficult fixture against his former club in the semifinals of the Champions League.
Bayern Munich qualified for the semifinals of the Champions League after beating French club Marseille 4-0 on aggregate. They will be facing their first match against Real Madrid at home, but Bernd Schuster believes that the Spanish opponents are far superior to the German club. Schuster has said that Real Madrid are the favourites in this match due to the fact that they are better in defence.
This has been one of the fixtures that has been played a number of times in the past, but Bayern Munich have emerged as the winners from most of them partly due to their defensive performance. However, Schuster reckons that the defensive performance within the Germans is not on par with those of the Spanish opponents.
The winner from this tie are most likely to face Barcelona in the final of the Champions League, which will be at the Allianz arena– the home of Bayern Munich. Schuster reckons that players like Sergio Ramos and Pepe are of much better quality than Boateng and Badstuber. Bayern have been one of the best attacking teams in Europe alongside Real Madrid.
“Bayern are not quite on par with Real Madrid. Especially in the area of central defence. Sergio Ramos and Pepe hold a huge advantage over Jerome Boateng and Holger Badstuber. So I have my doubts as to whether Bayern can compete. In midfield and attack, I see no difference in quality. The goalkeepers are the same. Iker Casillas and Manuel Neuer are both world class,” the 52-year-old told Kicker. Schuster has also said that former Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso is the man to watch.