AC Milan, as the winner of the Scudetto, in the first band. Juventus in second, while Inter and Napoli are in the third bracket
The effect Champions, like the butterfly effect? A flutter of wings from the other end of Europe (the draw in Istanbul, which after two postponements due to the pandemic will host the final on 10 June) can unleash a sort of hurricane in these parts: in the last two years the Scudetto was won by a team that finished fourth in the groups, therefore not even destined for the descent into the Europa League and with a clear mind from February onwards, before Conte’s Inter and therefore AC Milan’s Pegs.
Just a case? Maybe, given that the other contenders did not go beyond the second round, playing just two more games. But the change in the landscape – from the Inter treble of 2010 to the current difficulties of managing the double commitment (passing through the Juventus finals of 2015 and 2017) – under the eyes of all. Let’s put it this way: doing better and bringing a team back at least to the quarter-finals (Atalanta last to succeed in 2020) is not an impossible mission, even if in the Champions League it takes a good dose of luck, in addition to the competitive and deep squad.
I wonder if only one draw will be enough – to begin with – tonight in Turkey, because two were needed in December, due to a sensational error in the drawing. So Inter moved from Ajax to Liverpool and Juve from Sporting Lisbon to Villarreal, a surprise of the last edition as they also took out Bayern. Who knows if the venue of the final will resist this time: the Turkish capital has given up twice in a row for Covid (Lisbon and Porto the replacement venues), while the last edition was to be played in St. Petersburg, then replaced by Paris due to Russian invasion of Ukraine (which is why there are no Russian teams at the start). An unfortunate change: how can we forget the absolute chaos of the final at the Stade De France, which began 36 ‘late due to the bad management of UEFA and the French police, with many English fans who did not enter and the stinging spray sprayed on the children too ?
The victory of Ancelotti’s Real over Liverpool and above all his incredible comeback path against Psg, Chelsea and City, made the last edition unforgettable also for the good things. Absolute uncertainty, frenzied rhythms, sublime games: a sport in which the big Italian players want to try to participate, to see the effect it has, to measure themselves, to test themselves. And understand if the distance instead of increasing even more, maybe it is shortened, possibly thanks to the leap in quality of those who in the Champions League have yet to demonstrate, for reasons of curriculum, like Lukaku (who in any case scored 15 goals in 33 matches), but above all d’et, Vlahovic, De Ketelaere and Kvaratskheliathe new golden youth of our football, which is measured against the strongest.
And he will do it right away, because the big challenges are already around the corner (6-7 September the start) and in two months the six group matches will be played. Milan in the first bracket, Juventus in the second, Inter and Napoli are in the third. But no one is quiet. An example? A year ago the Rossoneri were in the fourth pot and drew Liverpool, Atletico and Porto, the toughest group. Now in theory they can find themselves with Liverpool, Dortmund and Marseille. And in any case, as an alternative to the Reds, they risk crossing an opponent between Chelsea, Barcelona, Atletico and Tottenham. Besides Dortmund, the most formidable opponents of the third band are Benfica and Sporting, which can also happen to Juve. Allegri, as well as Inzaghi and Spalletti, fishing a first-tier opponent, an urn that also hosts Ajax, Porto and Eintracht (Europa League holder): with a bit of luck you can hope to dribble Real, City, Bayern and Psg. But to try to get back to what we were, we have to start over somewhere.
The four bands
First band: Real Madrid, Eintracht, Bayern, Psg, Porto, Milan, Manchester City, Ajax.
Second band: Liverpool, Chelsea, Barcelona, Juventus, Atletico Madrid, Seville, Leipzig, Tottenham.
Third band: Borussia Dortmund, Salzburg, Shakhtar, Inter, Napoli, Benfica, Sporting Lisbon, Bayer Leverkusen.
Fourth band: Olympique Marseille, Bruges, Celtic, Viktoria Plzen, Maccabi Haifa, Rangers, Dinamo Zagreb, Copenhagen
August 25, 2022 (change August 25, 2022 | 08:31)
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