Another week and another slew of matches and table changes. But the matchups for the Round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League were also revealed, and that’s exciting.
Last week, there were four polls. They were Wolves vs Spurs, Wolfsburg vs Borussia Monchengladbach, Valencia vs Real Madrid and Cagliari vs Lazio. Spurs ended up winning the match, and four people voted for a win and two for a Wolves victory, while one person voted for a draw. For Wolfsburg vs Monchengladbach, everybody that voted said that Monchengladbach would win, but they ended up losing 2-1. Real Madrid and Valencia ended up in a draw, so one person got that right while four others voted for a Madrid win. Lastly, Lazio ended up with a 2-1 victory against Cagliari, so four of the five voters were correct. There was only one other voter, who picked a draw.
First and foremost, the Champions League. The eight matchups were revealed Monday, and I think almost all of them are going to be great. The headliner for me is Real Madrid facing off against Manchester City, but there are other great ones as well. Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain will go at it, as well as Liverpool and Atletico Madrid. A couple of other good games will be Atalanta versus Valencia and Chelsea against Bayern Munich. The final three games will also prove to be fun ones, and they are Lyon-Juventus, Tottenham-RB Leipzig and Napoli-Barcelona.
I really think someone new could be the winner this year. Paris Saint-Germain looks spectacular this season in the Champions League, while Liverpool and Barcelona will need to battle injuries and match overload. If I had to choose a team now it would be PSG, but look where we ended up last season. I am ready for all the ridiculousness of the Champions League to return.
Over the weekend in the EPL, league leader Liverpool survived a scare against Watford, winning 2-0. Thanks to a 1-1 draw to Norwich, Leicester City fell 10 points back of the Reds, and with two massive games ahead — Manchester City on Saturday and Liverpool the day after Christmas — we will find out if it is true title contenders.
Manchester City managed to not lose any ground in the race thanks to going up against Arsenal. Chelsea, however, took a 1-0 loss to the now 14th place Bournemouth squad. Jose Mourinho-led Tottenham is gaining ground on the leaders, now only three points behind the top four. A win against Chelsea Sunday would put the Spurs fourth on the table.
The season will not be over by the end of the month, but it will look a lot more clear who are challengers and who are pretenders at that point. Liverpool, Manchester City and Leicester City are the three probable contenders, and each of those teams has multiple important matches in the coming weeks.
It is a new week, and that means a new leader in the wild Bundesliga. RB Leipzig took the lead in the German division thanks to a 3-0 win against Fortuna and a fortuitous loss from Borussia Monchengladbach to Wolfsburg. The top five teams in the league are only separated by six total points, so it is far from decided. Bayern Munich continues to climb the ladder, now in fifth, moving up two spots. I think this one could go down to the wire.
This league will stay a two-horse race for the foreseeable future. Real Madrid and Barcelona both drew over the weekend, continuing their stalemate. However, that will change Wednesday when the two will face off in a titanic struggle. This match won’t decide the league, but it might shift the momentum to one or the other. I, honestly, have the team I want to win, and that is Barcelona, but I think it could go either way. Barcelona and Ernesto Valverde are not as strong as they could be because of the man mentioned earlier in this sentence. Real Madrid could win this game.
Lastly is the Italian league. Juventus closed the gap on Inter Milan thanks to a draw, and now the league is all tied up at 39 points. This one could also go down to the wire. Antonio Conte is one of the best managers in the world and will have his squad playing in top-shape the whole season. But Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the best players of all time, doesn’t like to lose. It’s an unstoppable force against an immovable object. It’s the first time Ronaldo has had competition in Serie A, so it will be interesting to see the way this one shakes out.