In Spain Real Sociedad with the big ones. London finds Arsenal, loses Chelsea. Newcastle like in Shearer’s time
The new Champions League, the last one before the reform that will bring the format to 36 teams with a single group, is taking shape. Between surprises and missing nobility, here’s what awaits the Italians in comparison with the other top leagues in Europe. While waiting for the Europa League final, with Roma involved, Serie A has already signed up the champions Napoli, Inter and Milan confirmed and Lazio returning after two years.
Reds and Blues
The Premier League was cruel to fifth-placed Liverpool. Jürgen Klopp’s great spring comeback did not lead to a turnaround. Three finals from 2018 to 2022 for the Reds, European champions in 2019. They will be missing. As Momo Salah wrote: “I am devastated, there is no excuse. We are Liverpool, qualifying for the Champions League is the minimum.” However, Klopp will remain in his place. Chelsea, champions in 2021, is the demonstration instead that money doesn’t make goals. The new US management of Todd Boehly threw around 700 million on the market, fired Thomas Tuchel to take Graham Potter from Brighton, paying him 25 million, then sacked him, to close with Frank Lampard. Now Mauricio Pochettino will arrive, but only one happy memory will remain of this season for the Blues: having caused the arrival of Roberto De Zerbi, called up by Brighton who had seen Potter leave for Stamford Bridge.
Celebrated Arsenal’s return after six years, the ‘intruder’ is Newcastle, out for two decades. When the Saudi Arabian Investment Fund took over the club in autumn 2021, it was easy to predict a rapid rise. However, all the names of champions eligible for the black and whites in those times remained fantasy. Newcastle lands in the Champions League thanks to the concreteness of Eddie Howe, a coach who took over the club in the relegation zone and in 18 months brought it to the glorious times of Alan Shearer. With Miguel Almiron become leader.
Very real society
The three big names in La Liga don’t miss the finish line, but the fourth is among the surprises: Real Sociedad has taken the place of Sevilla, always fourth in the last three tournaments. In San Sebastian they know how to build the future, with youth players becoming captains, like Mikel Oyarzabal; but they also know how to sniff out the deal when a protagonist is no longer holdable. In the summer they sold Alexander Isak for 75 million to Newcastle (he was paid 6.5). Loyalty counts: coach Imanol Alguacil played for blue-and-white in the 90s, then for more than a decade he passed on the bench from the juniors to the first team and in 2020 he won the Copa del Rey. Curiosity: 40 years ago the Basques reached the best result in the Champions Cup, they were eliminated in the semifinals by Hamburg, who then punished Juve. The Champions League returns to San Sebastian after ten years, but the memory of 1983 will be a happy prologue to the anthem of the modern cup.
After 23 years Berlin capital will be able to enjoy the Champions League, but not with Hertha (relegated), but with Union. The former East Berlin club, a popular expression that contrasted the power of the teams thanks to the DDR regime, landed in the Bundesliga in 2019 but there is not only folklore and solidarity left, with the stadium in the woods, the brick “score-score” and charitable initiatives. The Union stabilized, growing gradually: abundant salvation (eleventh), then Europe (seventh and fifth), then fourth place, the only exception in a fixed panorama: for the fifth year in a row, three qualifiers they are Bayern, Dortmund and Leipzig. Union, which will have to sell starlet Sheraldo Becker, would like to play with the big names in his stadium, which has never been violated in this Bundesliga, even if the 75,000-seat Olimpico would bring another shower of millions.
I want a lens
In France the miracle is called Lens, second behind Kylian Mbappé’s PSG. A reality that hadn’t seen the Champions League for twenty years. And that in 2020 he was still in the second division: then the flight on the wings of Luis Openda, 20 goals in this tournament. The crumbs remain in Marseille, Monaco and Lyon.
May 29, 2023 (change May 29, 2023 | 07:42)
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