European Super Cup

European-Super-Cup

Since the early 1970s, the European Super Cup has served as a curtain raiser to the European season and this year will again be contested by two English teams. Last season was a unique occasion on which both the Europa League and Champions League final was contested by English teams. Chelsea overcame Arsenal at a canter to win the Europa League and Spurs fell to Liverpool on the bigger Champions League stage. But what does the European Super Cup mean? Does it mean anything at all? Let us take a look in this article and also consider the odds on the eventual winner by visiting sports betting nzd

This year, the winners of the European Super Cup, will be decided in Istanbul Turkey. Another fair trek for English fans after last summers finals. The cup itself used to be a two legged affair, with home and away ties, giving chance for both teams fans to witness the occasion. Back in the pre-Champions League days, before the big money flooded in, the European Super Cup was certainly more appealing but now for the European Super Cup has passed into being a game people barely realise still takes place. In fact, had it not been for the fact that this year sees Chelseas lining up against Liverpool, would we even be talking about it in the UK…probably not?

Sadly, European Super Cup, despite its name can only ever be considered on par with the community shield. With the eyes of the world being on the game more than the community shield, and the fact that it is a European style prize, the clubs may take it more seriously, but this certainly won’t be treated with the level of the times these clubs have met in Champions League, FA Cups or even Premier League games. As it simply doesn’t warrant its place…

Yes there is a minimal cash prize, yes the bragging rights prior to the season are important and its another medal on the neck and another trophy in the cabinet, but it would be interesting to see how many teams would compete in the European Super Cup if was optional! Travelling all the way to Turkey, playing a game in those conditions and then flying back for a Premier League game seems to be excess and I can imagine the main priority of all managers will be getting through the game without any major injuries.

The European Super Cup cannot compete with the Champions League. Because the status of the Europa League, in the minds of most, is way way behind the Champions League, the game seems unnecessary. We all know that regardless of what happens in the Super Cup that the team who win the Champions League will always be considered the best team in Europe and the European Super Cup is merely nothing but a curtain raiser to get the season off to a flyer. Something relected in the odds on betting sites in sa .The only good purpose served by the European Super Cup is that it can give fan who can afford it, a chance to watch their team in pastures new. Klopp and Lampard will all just be hoping for an injury free trip!

Liverpool’s Champions League Chances

With the hunt for the league title now gone, and a top 4 place all but secured, Liverpool will be focusing the latter stages of the Champions League, and whoever lies next in wait will not wanting to be playing a Anfield in the next round.  But how far can Liverpool go? Are they genuine contenders for Champion League glory?

If everything falls into place, Jurgen Klopp has one of the most dynamic, fluid and dangerous attacking line ups in the Champions League. Despite the sale of arguable their most unique player, Mo Salah is coring for fun and when  Mane and Firmino hit top stride, there is very little defences can do to cope with them. But can they sustain these over 2 legged affairs with the very best sides in Europe?

Liverpool have shown far too often, in the biggest of games, that Klopp’s style does not win out on a consistent basis and there have been several times this season, including the 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford this past weekend, when the team have failed to click and looked rather pedestrian and average. If a defence can unite to keep Salah and Mane under wraps, Liverpool over very little else with the midfield struggling to create. This may help them against the lower end of the Premier League sides, but on the biggest stage of them all, it will cost them. Their win against Porto in the Last 16 was very impressive but bigger, tough sides await and even the English teams they may face during their run can cause them problems.

When you add in the state of the Liverpool defence, even with the addition of Virgila Van Dijk, it doesn’t provide a very positive outlook. Yes, to give credit where it is due, Liverpool have reached the quarter final stage, and as they have proven in the past anything is possible at this stage, but watching Liverpool does not inspire you with confidence they can beat 3 better teams to lift the trophy.

Getting to the final will be the harder task than winning it…if they do reach the final and Salah,  Mane and Firmino hit strides, they can trouble anyone and outscore any team. But beating one of the remaining teams over 2 legs, with a suspect defence and goalkeeper may be out of their reach. Is there a team remaining in the last 8 who you would expect Liverpool to beat? Perhaps not…Juventus have proven they have the defensive capability to keep Liverpool quiet, the remaining English sides would all fancy their chances over two legs and Real Madrid and Barcelona will relish playing against that back four at Anfield.

If Liverpool fans had a realistic head on their shoulders, they should recognise that a season ending in 3rd place in the league and having made the quarter finals of the champions League, is certainly an achievement in itself and certainly something to be proud of. Yes there is no silverware to cherish, but in a season when a club have sold their best player, and have had to contend with impressive Manchester teams, then that is no small achievement at all.

Which team will in this year’s Champions League

As investment in the game rises and new clubs come to the fore, the influx of world class players and clubs previously not deemed contenders for the Champions League, the elite competition in Europe, and interest in the game reaches fever pitch….the Champions League becomes more important than ever. The qualification is over; the group draw is done and after the international break the competition itself. Each year there are shocks, surprises, classic games  and world class football….but the questions is, in one of the most competitive seasons in living memory, just who will win the Champions League.

I think it is fair to say that the Champions League winner this season is likely to come from only a handful of countries so let us look at each nation step by step and see what they can offer. Also, on the off chance you’re a gambling man and you enjoy betting on the Champions League then a great site to take a look at is Footy Accumulators as they offer daily football tips for all of the biggest games.

Starting in Spain, look no further than Real Madrid as the odds on favourites. Easily the best team in the contest last season, and deserved winners, Real look solid and have the attacking flair and defensive might to defeat any team on their day. Barcelona have been rocked by the departure of Neymar, breaking up the MSN partnership, but they still have enough quality and experience to make a challenge. They may have missed key transfer targets and lack the “galactico feel” of Madrid but they should never be counted out.

Over in France, with Monaco losing the majority of their top players, the only Champions League winner potentially comes in the form of mega rich PSG who have boosted their attacking might with Mbappe and Neymar and will be irresistible in attack. They still have a lot to prove on the big stage to show they have the steel and grit to compete, but rule them out at your peril.

The only Italian hope is really Juventus who already look solid in the season, with a well-grounded squad, defensively the best set up in the continent and a wonder goal machine in the form of Dybala. They are my outside bet to life the trophy and even the finest attackers around may struggle to penetrate the Old Lady.

In terms of the German teams, I am sorry to say, that Bayern simply have not kept up with rivals. They have not spent big, they have not improved and they risk falling behind the European elite. The Germans always prove us wrong and seeing them in the Semi Final would not surprise me, but I rate their chances of making it all the way very slim.

Finally, the English clubs have 5 teams in this year and the only one I would rule out as contenders are Spurs. Lacking in experience and the poor home form at Wembley mean it could be a very short run. As for the others…Chelsea have been there before and have added plenty of quality, Manchester City are as strong as ever in attack but again need to prove it on the big stage and Liverpool have a front three to rival any in the word. But the one big contender, especially with his second season streak, is Manchester United and the Special One. Deep squad, plenty of goals, solid at the back….I can see Manchester United taking some beating in this year’s Champions League!

 

Prediction: Manchester United

One to Watch: Juventus

Can the EPL teams Challenge the European Status Quo?

UCL

Although often touted as the greatest league in the world, perhaps more on entertainment than quality, and despite paying out the biggest wages, world record transfers and commanding TV money no other league can come close to, the English Premier League (EPL) teams have struggled to establish themselves in the Champions League era. It is a given that the La Liga’s best teams will make the final stages and Bayern Munich always seem to reach the Semi Finals. No English club has come close to matching that and it is still a novelty rather than regularity when an English team reaches the final 4 let alone the final. So can this season see a change in the waves? With 5 teams in the Champions League there is every chance…

Chelsea are of course going in as Champions and were a cut above the rest in 2016-2017. They have a manager with vast experience, a squad deep enough to go well and a system of playing that will suit the big European Nights. The advantage of a season off from the Champions League may also serve to boost and under Conte. But how much will he gamble on prioritising Europe? Chelsea have a real chance to make themselves a force in Europe. Even at the peak of their powers, they have never set their stamp on this contest with just the 2 finals and 1 win. Now is the time to change…. Arsenal on the other hand will be spending time free on Wednesday probably looking for best online casino to play slot machines while they contemplate the first season in over 20 where they are not in Europe elite footballing competition!

Manchester City are the team I can see establishing themselves more than the others. Of course detractors are going to claim they have never done anything in the Champions league, they have never made an impact etc etc but with the resources they have, the roots they are building and the manager they have at the helm, there is every chance of them breaking it. They are basing themselves and their entire backroom set ups and youth systems in accordance with what the big clubs have achieved and this will set them up nicely the more time goes on. They dream big and that’s what will get them where they need.

Over at the other side of Manchester, they have a manager who has been there and done it all before. But can he build a dynasty like Red Flush online casino? As a man with a reputation of not sticking around it is hard to see Jose being able to do what even Alex Ferguson couldn’t and making united mainstays in the final 4 of the Tournament. But who knows….

It may be too early for Liverpool. I do hope the Klopp era is a long and prosperous one as his brand of football is enjoyable and he seems to be able to get the most out of his players. Can he take them back to the summit where they once were in the 1970s and 1980s? He will need time and money but with a new era on the helm, a burst of young players and a new drive about club…maybe they can?

It is too early to talk about Spurs being able to breach the gap as they are just about settling themselves as contenders in England and there is no Arsenal this year!

In short, can the EPL teams go and make themselves the best they can possibly be and get into the status of being regulars in the latter stages of the Champions League? In time yes, but at the moment, as the last season showed there is still much to work on.

Arsenal look to bounce back from Bayern Munich humiliation

Arsene Wenger out

Arsene Wenger’s team travel to the 5,000 capacity Borough Sports Ground to face Sutton United in the FA Cup fifth round on Monday evening.

Sutton United, the National League side, have already eliminated Wimbledon and Leeds United en route to their first ever fifth-round appearance and were awarded with a dream tie against The Gunners. They will be looking to become the first non-league team to reach the sixth round of the FA Cup in its current format.

Arsenal suffered humiliation in their crushing defeat to Bayern Munich during the mid-week Champions League fixture and the FA Cup remains their most realistic chance of silverware this season as the Premier League title looks like it’s out of reach – however you can check out the live odds for the Premier League title if you feel Arsenal will close the 10 point gap between them an Chelsea.

Arsene Wenger has come under intense pressure this week, however has stated that he will be managing next season. He said, “no matter what happens, I will manage next season, whether it’s here or somewhere else. That’s absolutely for sure.”

When discussing the 5-1 defeat in Germany, he goes on to say “on a night like that, of course I hate defeat and I hate to lose games. I want to do extremely well for this club and I feel a big responsibility.”

“It is difficult to take, but I have the strength and experience to respond. It all went wrong for us after half-time. I think we looked quite defensively solid in the first half. We lost Laurent Koscielny in the second half and after that we lost our structure and our organisation. We were a bit naive for the goals we conceded. At 3-1 I felt we were mentally affected by the result and much more vulnerable.”

He goes on to say “everyone focuses on the next game, to take care of the consequences a disappointing result can have on everybody’s spirit and to make sure we bounce back and focus on the next game.”

“We have to deal with the media and our job is to and analyse with clarity what happened. We can’t influence the last result.”

“I always had in my head that it was a very important game. In my head I have had a team that will start and play there, for a week or 10 days now. That result we had at Bayern Munich will not influence that selection.”

“The FA Cup is one of our targets. It’s te next game and for us to bounce back after the game we just had, it becomes a very important game. But it always was, in my head.”

Arsenal, who could reach the sixth round for the fourth season in a row, must be wary of a potential cup upset. However, Sutton United manager Paul Doswell is remaining cautious. “There’s two ways of looking at it” says Doswell. You either get the likes of Ozil and Sanchez and Giroud – and you can just keep naming them – in which case we would lose the game comfortably but the lads would get the experience of having played a Premier League giant.”

“If you see Ozil and Sanchez on the team sheet our chance doesn’t come beyond nought. Or you go the other way and you play a team of under-23s that are still internationals mixed in with one or two of their squad players, and that gives us that one percent chance that we’d be after.”