What reception for the spectators authorized to come to fill the bays?
At the beginning of October, UEFA authorized the return of the public to European football competitions, something observed in the League of Nations in particular, within a limit of 30% of the stadium’s capacity and at the discretion of the local authorities. A decision that follows the life-size test carried out during the European Supercup, played at the Puskas Arena in Budapest (Hungary), where 15,180 spectators, out of 68,000 seats, were able to witness Bayern Munich’s victory over Sevilla (1 -0). “This decision is a reasonable first step which favors the health of supporters and respect for local legislation”, commented the UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin, when the news was announced.
Unfortunately for the French clubs, while several metropolises, including Paris and Marseille, have had to implement a curfew, only Rennes will be able to accommodate 5,000 spectators against Krasnodar for its debut on the European scene. A decision taken by the prefect of Ile-et-Vilaine, Michèle Kirry, while Rennes is currently on “heightened alert”. A decision justified by the person concerned. “Brittany remains the region most spared by the incidence rate”.
Best French luck, can Paris Saint-Germain go to the end?
Unhappy finalist of the last edition, Paris Saint-Germain hopes, finally, to realize its dream of lifting the cup with big ears. If the start of the season was not idyllic the day after the defeat against Bayern Munich, the Parisians have recovered and are now on the podium of the French championship. If historic club faces like Thiago silva and Edinson Cavani, who will find his former teammates with Manchester United, have left the club in the capital, several quality recruits have come to fill the ranks of Paris.
First, Leonardo, the sporting director, was quick to lift the option to buy the formidable scorer Mauro icardi, who will be keen to post a better performance than in Final 8. Also, the Italian Alessandro Florenzi, newly arrived from AS Roma, achieves an ideal start to the season at the right-back position, where PSG have long sought a decent holder. Danilo Pereira, arrived from Porto, could well be the sentinel that has been lacking at the club since the retirement of Thiago Motta. Finally, Moise kean and Rafinha arrived in the last hours of the transfer window to bring quality to the offensive sector.
But, if the workforce still looks great, doubts remain on the ability of the club to change into claiming the final victory. By facing Manchester United, RB Leipzig and Istanbul Başakşehir, the Parisians have, by and large, the means to get out of the pools and reach, once again, the final phase. It is at this stage of the competition that PSG will face its old demons. Did Final 8 totally shatter the glass ceiling? Thomas tuchel, sometimes decried, will he be able to lead his people to the supreme title? So many questions that make the European course 2020-2021 a perfect thriller to follow.
What can we expect from Marseille and Rennes?
Further back, Marseille and Rennes will however play their chances bravely. The Phocéens, 7 years after the sad 0 point of 2013-2014, the club’s last appearance in the Champions League, even have a small chance to take one of the first two places in a rather open group C. Behind the ogre Manchester City, who will be among the favorites for the final victory, the men ofAndré Villas-Boas will face Porto, for a reunion between the Marseille coach and the club he loves so much, and Olympiakos.
The dragons, the nickname given to the Porto players, have also had a mixed start to the season. After two inaugural victories, against Braga (3-1) and Boavista (0-5), they struggled against Maritimo, defeat (2-3), and in the first real test of the season against Sporting, contenting themselves with of a draw (2-2). As for the Olympiakos, passed by the dams, of a certain Mathieu Valbuena, the adversity encountered in the Greek championship, where the club pocketed 10 points out of 12 possible, does not allow to judge the real level of the team before the expected confrontations. But, to dominate these direct competitors, Marseille, a team with two faces since the start of the season, will have to be in its best light. Fortunately, the Olympians have shown great progress against Bordeaux, just days away from an expected entry into the running.
Stade Rennais, a novice in the most prestigious of European competitions, will seek above all to have fun and grab a third place, synonymous with qualifying for the 1/16 round of the Europa League. “When you participate in a competition, it’s to appear well. You still draw the winner of the Europa League, Sevilla, who almost beat Bayern in the European Supercopa, and Chelsea, who achieved the most big summer transfer window, declared Nicolas holveck, president of the club at the microphone of Téléfoot at the end of the draw, Krasnodar, which is a great team, will be our rival for third place. We will obviously try to annoy Sevilla and Chelsea. “ Wink of fate, Rennes will find its former guardian Edouard Mendy left this summer with the Blues. In order to make its debut in the Champions League a success, Rennes has been active in the transfer market by recruiting Daniele Rugani at Juventus, Jeremy Doku, Belgian prodigy from Anderlecht or even Serhou Guirassy who had demonstrated the full extent of his qualities at Amiens last year. Enough to hoist the colors of Brittany high?
Who will be the favorites of the competition?
Sparkling last year, Bayern Munich will be the favorite to his own succession. The Bavarian club, PSG winner in the final on August 23 (1-0), seems to have the weapons to fight for the European title. Mostly, Hans-Dieter Flick will be able to count on an almost unchanged workforce, with the exception of Thiago Alcantara party to join Liverpool, and even reinforced by Leroy Sané, Douglas costa, Bouna Sarr and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting. On the starting line, confidence is in order for the Bavarians, who have lost only once, against Hoffenheim (4-1) in 4 matches this season. But be careful, keeping the cup with big ears for two years in a row is never easy. Apart from Real Madrid of Zinedine Zidane, no one has done it in the last thirty years, the last one dating back to 1990 and the great Milan ofArrigo Sacchi.
In fact, three main contenders will try to undermine the superiority of Bayern. First, Liverpool, winner of the 2019 edition, and who broke the club’s 30-year-old curse in the Premier League. Freed from a weight, the men of Jurgen klopp will be able to free themselves on the European scene. Above all, to an already well-oiled team, around his trio Salah–Mané–Firmino, the Reds added Thiago Alcantara, who was quick to shine in the domestic championship. Another English club, Manchester City will have a good card to play. Despite colossal investments and Pep guardiola on the bench, the Citizens can say that 2021 will be their year, on condition of breaking, like Paris last year, the glass ceiling which prevents the club from reaching the final.
Finally, impossible to rule out Real Madrid from Zinedine Zidane. If since the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo, two years ago, the Merengue club no longer dominates Europe, the club remains one of the historic favorites in the Champions League. To perform well on the European scene, Real will count on Karim Benzema, great architect of the crown of Spanish champion last year, and on the progress of the two Brazilian nuggets Vinicius (20 years old) and Rodrygo (19 years old). Other historic clubs like Juventus or FC Barcelona, who both changed coaches this summer, seem more in the background.
What will be the small clubs to follow?
If they have no chance, or almost, of reaching the final phase, Midtjylland, Danish club, is the small thumb of the competition. If the club has in its ranks a former Ligue 1 player, the former Dijon Sory Kaba, holder on the front of the attack, he also has in his ranks a player with a singular history: Pione Sisto. Originally from South Sudan, he has known civil war. A situation that forced his family to put their bags down in Denmark, where Sisto discovered football. Left to export his talent to Celta Vigo for four seasons, the winger is back home in his training club with the hope of appearing well in the Champions League.
Although they no longer have their former glory, Hungarian club Ferencvaros, once a Cup finalist in 1972, remains one of Hungary’s most popular teams. Above all, the club counts among its supporters a certain Viktor Orban, big football fan and Hungarian Prime Minister. So, during the club’s qualification for the group stages of the competition, the statesman celebrated in his own way, posting a winning bet on social networks. Placed in the group of FC Barcelona, Juventus and Dynamo Kiev, Ferencvaros will receive opponents of choice …