With the 2020-21 season well underway, we are about to enter one of the most unpredictable English Premier League seasons since 2015, when Leicester City beat 5000/1 odds to win the Premier League that year. Currently, the four and three teams that sit on top and bottom of the English top flight respectively are Leicester, Tottenham, Liverpool and Southampton. An honorable mention would be Aston Villa in sixth. The top four earn their place in the champions league, and the fifth earns a spot in the Europa League next season. But with 30 games left in the season, and this being the busy month of December, there is an uphill battle for teams at the top and bottom of the table.
Liverpool, last season’s champions, aren't facing a bright season. With three defensive injuries (that we know of) early on in the season, including the 2019 Ballon D’or runner up Virgil Van Dijk, the 2019–20 PFA Young Player of the Year Trent Alexander Arnold, and adaptable defender Joe Gomez all out for large parts of the season, Liverpool faces an uphill battle, with the FA cup, Premier League and Champions League games fast approaching. Currently, they are calling up academy players to fill their cleats. A key forward Mo Salah is also out due to COVID-19 (contracted at his brother’s wedding in Egypt, I believe). My take is that they won’t be in for a good season unless a formation and tactics change are in place. I would play a three-defender formation, and increase possession. Jurgen Klopp definitely has a lot to deal with right now and will be hoping for a boost in funding for the winter transfer window.
And with the Champions League also approaching, here are the games from each group to follow:
Atletico Madrid vs. Lokomotiv Moscow—the reason is the two mid-table teams will battle it out to see if Moscow can top the La Liga team and make it to second. Current champions Bayern Munich are top of the group with no signs of slowing down
A tough one to call: the “top two teams” are at the bottom of the group, with Inter Milan (fourth) playing Real Madrid (third), and Monchengladbach (first) playing Shakhtar (second). The “higher quality” game is between Inter Milan and Madrid, but the unpredictability of this group is what makes it interesting.
Looks like a standard group to me—unless, in the next three games, something weird happens. The matches are as follows: First Man City vs. Olympiacos Third, and Second Porto vs. Marseille Fourth
With the amount of deep shit Liverpool are in, I won’t be surprised if they tank it, finish third, then head to the Europa League. Personally, I expect them to lose to Atalanta B.C.; I predict also that Ajax will likely beat Midtjylland. The matchup of Liverpool vs. Atalanta B.C. is highly anticipated, as it will be interesting to see how Liverpool will cope with their players’ injuries and their two high-stakes games in the span of three days.
The game to watch is Chelsea vs. Fourth Rennes. Unless there is an upset in this group, it looks like the top two teams are set and it's up to Chelsea and Sevilla to protect their six-point gap. I hope Rennes can beat Chelsea this weekend, just because I can’t resist a nice upset.
The game to watch is Borussia Dortmund vs. Club Brugge. With Zenit not looking like they have a chance against Ciro Immobile and Co., Dortmund is always an exciting team to watch, with developing young players like Erlig Haaland and Giovanni Reyna. I just hope the young players can consistently produce quality football.
The game to watch is Barcelona vs. Dynamo Kiyv. A group with two European stallions looking to top the group by the end of the stage, but with the teams not playing each other this week, it should be light work for them.
Group H: The games to watch are Manchester United (first). vs. Istanbul (fourth), and RB Leipzig (second) vs. Paris Saint-Germain F.C. (third). This has been dubbed the “group of death,” boasting competitive teams and already having upsets with Manchester United beating both PSG and RB Leipzig, just to lose to Istanbul. This week, Manchester United play their second game against Istanbul. PSG and RB Leipzig square up for the second time this season as well.
Now, here is some news about national teams.
The United States men’s national soccer team beats Panama 6–2:
Last time out, the USMNT beat Panama 6–2 in a friendly match. They showed promise in their young squad, with 18 year old Dortmund player Giovanni Reyna scoring on his debut and demonstrating an excellent attacking game. Despite it only being a friendly match, this display shows us that the future is bright for the USMNT.
Spain obliterates Germany:
A game that ended 6–0 in favor of Germany was a shocker for many, as both teams fielded good players. The blowout by the Spaniards gave them a chance to sub in players like Eric Garcia at center back. But the star of the show was definitely Manchester City forward Ferran Torres, who scored a hat trick, and Spain had more than 10 times the amount of shots that Germany did, as well as 70 percent of possession, 93 percent pass accuracy rate, and ten shots on target. In my opinion, Germany was lucky not to be even more humiliated with that poor of a display.