Thursday, August 11, 2016
Although thanks to the Europa League and the American Cup our need for football has been quenched (and thank goodness for the Olympic Games which are still taking place), us football fans are in luck: the big European leagues have released their calendar dates, so we know the dates of our favourite team’s League matches or when the most exciting matches on the continent will be played.
The home competition is soon to start, and once again, Barcelona and Real Madrid appear as the main favourites to take the title, without forgetting Atlético de Madrid who in recent years has won a League and reached two Champion’s League finals.
FC Barcelona, defending champion, remains almost intact with the team that led them to victory last season: with the dreaded MSN (Messi, Suárez, Neymar) front, Dani Alves is the only main player who is no longer on the squad. After 8 seasons representing the Catalan club, the Brazilian has opted to join Turin's Juventus, thus beginning a new adventure in Italy. French defenders Digné and Umtiti, the versatile Denis Suárez and the talented, although irregular, André Gomes reinforce a team that starts another season as the main favourite to become champion.
Meanwhile, Real Madrid, the current European champion, has had a quiet summer when it comes to signings, at the moment, only the return of Alvaro Morata has been confirmed. Morata, who started in the junior team for Real Madrid will fight for a place in Zinedine Zidane's first eleven after leaving Juventus and the recent Europa Cup on a high note.
The third wheel in play, Atlético de Madrid, managed for yet another season by Simeone with his "match to match” philosophy, will want to make life difficult for Barça and Madrid, and for this reason he has reinforced their weak points: focusing on the right back with the Croatian Vrsaljko, the overflowing talent of Gaitán and speed from striker Kevin Gameiro are the new weapons of the red and white team.
In addition to the signings of the three favourites, other important players like Pato (Villareal), Ganso (Seville) and Nani (Valencia) have joined the League. Although no one has caused such a stir nor has raised as many expectations as the signing of Kevin-Prince Boateng by the Unión Deportiva Las Palmas: the Ghanaian player, who seeks to revive his career at Unión, attracted 6,000 people to witness his presentation at the club.
In the Liga’s 2016-2017 calendar we can find the most exciting and interesting matches to be seen in Spain during the next season. We won't have to wait too long for the first duel between two of the contenders: Barcelona will receive Atlético in Camp Nou mid-September. On the same date Seville and Betis will play each other, one of the matches involving the greatest rivalry of the competition. In November the Madrid Derby arrives: Atlético and Real Madrid, the red and whites against the all whites. It poses a difficult journey for the Merengue team, who, two weeks later, in the 14th fixture, will travel to Barcelona to fight for el Clásico. In the second round, apart from the matches previously mentioned, it’s worth highlighting, that in the last fixture, Atlético de Madrid will have their last home match in the Vicente Calderón before changing stadiums. Don’t miss it!
Last season we witnessed one of the most surprising and wonderful success stories in the last few years of world football: Leicester City, a team whose objective was to not get relegated, rose to take the title after an extraordinary season. And even though it's almost impossible that the fairytale is repeated, the Premier League has a range of favourites which includes up to 6 teams, excluding the reigning champions.
Although the Premier League is the one which has invested the most money in players, the most important ones of the season are off the pitch: Mourinho and Guardiola will get to relive their old rivalry on the side of the pitch, this time in the city of Manchester, and Chelsea haven't hesitated to contract Antonio Conte after his success with Juventas and the transalpine country’s team. In addition, we can’t forget that it will be the first complete season for Klopp as the Liverpool coach.
As regards the players, the teams in the city of Manchester are once again those who have invested the most money: United has spent almost 80 million Euros on Bailly and Mkhitariyan, Ibrahimovic now free from his contract with PSG and they are also expecting to break the bank with Pogba's signing. As for Manchester City, they are starting to reinforce their team with players right up Guardiola's street, such as Nolito, Gundogan and the extreme young German, Leroy Sané. Abramovich’s Chelsea aren’t far behind and have spent 76 million in two new additions to the team: the French player Kanté one of Leicester's champions and the forward from Belgium, Batshuayi.
The Swiss player, Xhaca is the most noteworthy addition for Arsenal. Arsene Wenger is trusting in the ex Gladbach player for his centre pitch area to move up a notch in the quality needed in this area. The skilled Sadio Mané and the Dutch player Wijnaldum are the highlight of Liverpool's signings, while Pochettino's Tottenham, who hopes to repeat last season’s successful campaign, has strengthened the team with Wanyama, the heart of midfield, and the Dutch forward Vincent Jannsen.
As it is anybody’s title, in nearly all the Premier League match dates there are matches you can’t miss, such as Arsenal-Liverpool in the opening fixture. In the 4th fixture, at the beginning of September, we have the first of the Manchester derbies, and in the following a spectacular Chelsea-Liverpool. Arsenal and Tottenham will seek to resolve the fiercest rivalry in London in fixture 11, while the Mersey derby between Liverpool and Everton will be played out mid-December. Finally, to close the first round (and later, the League), a spectacular Liverpool-Manchester City.