Talking Soccer: Previewing the Champions League

Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne, right, celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game with teammate Nolito during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester United and Manchester City at Old Trafford, Manchester, England, Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016. (Martin Rickett/PA via AP)

With the first round of the Champions League group stages starting tomorrow, there is tons of speculation over who actually has what it takes to make the finals this year for the coveted title. Looking at all of the teams, the clubs Manchester City and Juventus are my picks for the two that have what it takes to make it to the end of the tournament. They both have made great moves in the transfer market and have already been performing in their respective leagues.

Juventus is an obvious choice this year for a run to the Champions’ League final. After buying superstar Gonzalo Higuan, they are going to put some serious firepower at opposing teams in addition to their stalwart defense. Picking up Dani Alves on a free transfer only goes further to show the allure of the team to world class athletes like Alves who looking to win. Looking at the Italian side’s group, they will probably finish first in the table against weaker sides Sevilla, Lyon and Dinamo Zagreb. Great goal scorers like Higuan are needed to win the tournament, but great goalkeepers can also make the difference in crucial games. Gianluigi Buffon has proven time and time again throughout his career how legendary he is and that he is one of the most experienced in the Champions’ League currently. With Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini and Stephan Lichtsteiner, the defense shines compared to others across the world.  

Manchester City as a pick for the final is a little tricky. On one hand, they have been notorious for crashing and burning out of the international competition in recent years. On the other, the team has upgraded key positions for depth and hired a coach proven in the Champions’ League, Pep Guardiola, who will lift up the team for the games. Upgrading depth will, no doubt, benefit the team across the long Premier League schedule, where resting players in the league matches happen regularly to make sure that they are fresh for the Champions’ League games. Offensively, the team is led by the impressive Sergio Aguero.

The offensive weapons beside him such as Nolito, Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane are also speedy forwards who can provide goals across the tournament in the event the injury prone Aguero is not able to participate, as has happened before. Adding Ilkay Gundogan in as midfielder simply makes their already amazing midfield arguably the best in the competition. When looking at him in combination with Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva, Fernandinho and Jesus Navas, you can see that the team has a dangerous collection of midfield players.

Anything could happen in a tournament with as many skilled players and super clubs, but some teams have so much firepower and reliable defense that they are clear favorites to move past the opposition. Looking at the entire competition, Juventus and Manchester City show so much talent in their squads that it is hard not to pick them over the rest. Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Real Madrid are almost as impressive but have not added the same improvements to their rosters since last year and have less chance of reaching the final. This was Talking Soccer.


Joe Burns is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via joseph.burns@uconn.edu.