Well in Europe that is. The MLS season is in full swing and there have been quite a few big Euro clubs visiting for friendlies. Which is cool, especially with the sizes of crowds that have come out to watch them. Strange, US fans will go see a meaningless game where the players are giving half effort, while they aren’t crazy about going to MLS matches where most players give their all. But I digress.
This is always a fun time full of hope for every clubs fans, hoping this year will be the year and their club will shine. Many players have changed teams, most notably Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka. Both moving to Real Madrid in what what they hope to be a soccer renaissance with hundreds of millions of dollars invested in new players. Yes I said plural hundreds of millions of dollars. Pretty silly if you ask me with all the poverty and suffering in this world.
Here I give a short rundown of what has gone on in the offseason in the 3 big leagues in Europe as well as my predictions for the top 4 spots.
So Spain should be interesting. Barcelona coming off winning the treble and bringing in Zlatan Ibrahimovic from Inter. They were already the strongest team in Europe, will that change? Real Madrid certainly has the talent and attacking options but will chemistry and defense let them down? The best of the rest are Atletico Madrid, Valencia, Villarreal, and Sevilla so they would be worth keeping an eye on. Valencia, surprisingly, even kept David Villa who is a joy to watch around the goal. Barcelona once again is too strong again for the men in white.
1. Barcelona 2. Real Madrid 3. Valencia 4. Sevilla
Inter have had a solid grip in Serie A in the last few seasons. Winning in each of the last four seasons, much to the dismay of their hated rivals AC Milan. Juventus might have something to say this next season. They brought in some solid players like Diego from Werder Bremen and Felipe Melo from Fiorintina. AC Milan lost their talisman Kaka to Real Madrid’s millions and brought in Klaas-Jan Huntelaar to give them a new presence up front with Pato(if he stays). But losing Kaka is a massive blow for the Rossoneri. Inter did swap Zlatan Ibrahimovic for Samuel Eto’o and many millions. Ibrahimovic is more of a creative player than Eto’o, but Eto’o has been one of the most consistant goal scorers in recent past so not much of a downgrade there. Jose Mourinho will keep his team at to top for another season, he’s one of the best coaches out there, annoying as it is to say that. Both AC Milan and Juventus will trot out new coaches, and who knows if their systems will work well.
1. Inter 2. Juventus 3. AC Milan 4. Genoa
In England, the “Big Four” didn’t really do as much buying as in previous seasons. Yuri Zhirkov joined Chelsea for 18 million pounds, Antonio Valencia joined Man United for around 15 mil, Arsenal got Thomas Vermaelen from Ajax for about 10 mil, and Liverpool got Glen Johnson and Alberto Aqulilani for about 30 mil combined. Still some spending but not the craziness of the past. In fact, a number of good players have left these teams, Cristiano Ronaldo, Carlos Tevez, Emmanuel Adebayor, Kolo Toure, Xabi Alonso, and Alvaro Arbeloa. Only Chelsea didn’t lose a big player this offseason. The thing is all those players were bought/signed by only two teams, Read Madrid and Manchester City. They were the teams with the big money to spend and well they tried to get any well known player to join them with promises of big wages and other top players to play with. It will be interesting whether Man City, Everton, or Aston Villa are able to break into the Champions League spots which have been dominated by the Big Four in the last decade. The teams I expect to struggle are Wolverhampton, Portsmouth, Hull, Burnley, and Birmingham, but there are always surprises so I guess we’ll see. Everyone predicted Stoke to go right back down last year and they finished solidly in the mid-table. In the end, I still think it will be tough to break into the top 4. So there we have it.
1. Man United 2. Liverpool 3. Chelsea 4. Arsenal
So this post is long enough for now. I’m sure I’ll revisit these leagues as well as some others. Until then, Go Arsenal.