CHAMPIONS LEAGUE – Cadors with PSG sauce, while the “surprises” always delight before the C1

These leaders who have trouble

Bayern Munich: An eventful recovery

  • Opponent in the round of 16: PSG

Champions League

Are Real Madrid out of breath?


Bayern Munich are still top of the Bundesliga, one point ahead of Union Berlin. But to say that the Bavarian club did not leave as expected is a mild understatement. Before finding PSG at the Parc des Princes in the round of 16 first leg of the Champions League, the Bavarian giant had to wait until this weekend to sign a first victory in the Bundesliga in 2023 (note: at Wolfsburg 4-2). Before that ? Three sad draws concluded with the score of one everywhere (note: against Leipzig, Cologne and Frankfurt) came to accompany the start of the year for Benjamin Pavard’s teammates.

This weekend, Julian Nagelsmann had to make his eleven without many absentees (Dayot Upamecano, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, Ryan Gravenberch), who added to the long-term injuries (Manuel Neuer, Lucas Hernandez, Sadio Mané, Noussair Mazraoui) . Not ideal therefore to prepare the PSG. And to make matters worse, the last few days have been hectic behind the scenes. First there was Serge Gnabry’s suspender reassembly, which made an express round trip to Paris to attend Fashion Week. And then, the sensational media outing of Manuel Neuer after the dismissal of goalkeeping coach Toni Tapalovic shook Bavaria.

At Bayern, the Neuer crisis: “Nagelsmann does not really know how to manage these episodes”

Liverpool : From bad to pee

  • Opponent in round of 16: Real Madrid

But what is happening in Liverpool? Jürgen Klopp seems to have lost the keys. His Reds are no longer round. And have not stopped sinking since the start of 2023. Already in the hard at the start of the season, the Mersey club has just had four disappointments in the Premier League (note: three losses and a draw). Corrected by Wolverhampton (3-0) on Saturday, he points to an unworthy 10th place, far from the podium (13 points) and the title race of course (21 points behind Arsenal).

In the lot, we must also add the setback against Brighton in the FA Cup (2-1), at the end of January. Between the attack which displays a disturbing sterility, the defense which too often takes on water and a collective with absent subscribers, Jürgen Klopp has reason to fulminate and worry a few days before a duel against Real Madrid.

Real Madrid: Many points left on the way and injuries

  • Opponent in round of 16: Liverpool

So solid at the start of the season, Real Madrid, which had already experienced a delicate passage at the end of October-beginning of November, has not seen an idyllic recovery since the World Cup. Sunday’s loss against Mallorca (1-0) is already the second in La Liga in 2023, knowing that the Merengues also conceded a draw against Real Sociedad at the end of January (0-0). That’s a lot of points left on the way for a team like Real, who have won only four games for eight days in the league. During this time, FC Barcelona obviously did not have to be asked to take advantage of it and widen the gap at the top of the standings, now counting eight points ahead.

To this assessment, we must also add the setback in the final of the Spanish Super Cup in mid-January against the Catalan rival (1-3) which caused some turmoil. Deprived of many injured players including Karim Benzema and Thibaut Courtois, the merengue club however has no time to rest and must now fly to the Club World Cup. If all goes well in Morocco, Real could then still have four matches to play (three in the event of a loss against Al-Ahly in the semi) before February 21 and the decisive round of 16 of the Champions League against Liverpool. An overloaded calendar that could leave traces.

Are Real Madrid out of breath?

Manchester City: The clouds are gathering

  • Opponent in round of 16: Leipzig

2023 has definitely not smiled on Pep Guardiola so far. Beaten this weekend by a goal from the formidable Harry Kane (1-0), Manchester City have already conceded three losses since the start of this calendar year. One in the League Cup against Southampton (2-0) and two in the Premier League against Manchester United in the derby (2-1) and therefore against Spurs. City find themselves second in the league five points behind Arsenal with a game more than the Gunners and saw United, their neighbor, come back in their mirrors. Distraught this weekend against Spurs, Pep Guardiola, who let Joao Cancelo slip away to Bayern Munich on loan this winter, has his work cut out for him to turn his team back into a success machine.

For the moment, the clouds continue to accumulate. In recent days, doubts about the use of Erling Haaland and his contribution to the collective have even appeared despite his goals galore (25 goals and 3 assists in 20 Premier League matches). And City have mostly found themselves in the eye of the storm as the Premier League accuse the defending champion of breaching financial regulations dozens of times between the 2009/2010 and 2017/2018 seasons. That’s a lot of turmoil as the C1 – the obsession of the Skyblues and Guardiola – returns…

City and Haaland worry England: ‘Guardiola’s choices make the problem worse’

AC Milan: Nothing is going well

  • Opponent in round of 16: Tottenham

The matches follow one another and Milan continues to dig by taking on water. This Sunday, AC Milan suffered the law of Inter in the derby (1-0). A logical defeat which surprised no one in the Boot as the Rossoneri have not responded for a few weeks. This setback marks the Lombards’ fifth game without success in Serie A. And by adding the slap against Inter in the Italian Supercup (3-0), the routs accumulate (note: Lazio Rome 4-0 and Sassuolo 5 -2 in the league).

While his team is in full doubt and gloomy, Stefano Pioli has nevertheless tried to stop the haemorrhage of goals conceded (note: eighteen in the seven matches before the derby since the resumption in early January) with a very defensive team this Sunday . But the partners of an Olivier Giroud in the hard, just like Théo Hernandez and Rafael Leão, again yielded. Confidence has crumbled, the identity of the Lombards has flown away and the leaders are absent: in other words, the Milanese machine is completely jammed at the start of the year.

Chelsea: The transfer window effect is long overdue

  • Opponent in the round of 16: Dortmund

Tickets flowed freely this winter with more than 300 million invested. And no less than seven players arrived. But for the moment and logically given the delay (Fernandez only arrived last week as a reminder), the result is long overdue. Only ninth in the Premier League, 12 points from the podium and 10 lengths from the qualifying places for the Champions League, Chelsea remain on two draws in the league (0-0). And above all, a single victory in his last seven outings in all competitions.

While the Blues have only been able to register three recruits (Enzo Fernandez, Mykhailo Mudryk and Joao Felix) for the rest of the Champions League this season, they still have one meeting – against West Ham next weekend – to try to rev up, create a collective and accelerate the integration of their reinforcements, in particular their two most expensive recruits, Enzo Fernandez and Mykhailo Mudryk. But it’s very short. Too ?

Enzo Fernandez – FC Chelsea

Credit: Getty Images

Tottenham: Finally a series?

  • Opponent in round of 16: AC Milan

Tottenham have yet to find a cruising speed. But the Londoners remain in ambush for the Premier League podium, three points behind Manchester United (with one more game, however). With three losses, a draw and three successes in the Premier League, Hugo Lloris’ teammates are slow to follow up and sign a series of victories. Could the three points won against Manchester City this weekend (1-0) be the expected trigger, as Antonio Conte’s players show three successes in a row by adding the FA Cup victory against Preston (0-3) ? In any case, Harry Kane and co have more reasons to be positive than Milan at the moment.

These ambitious people who always ride a nice wave

Napoli: An untouchable leader

  • Opponent in the round of 16: Eintracht Frankfurt

There were two false notes at the start of 2023. One in the Italian Cup against Cremonese (loss on penalties). And above all, one against Inter Milan on January 4 (1-0 defeat). But otherwise, Naples continues to seduce and impress. Author of an explosive campaign in the Champions League, Napoli accumulates success like pearls in Serie A. Luciano Spalletti’s men remain on five straight victories for 14 goals scored and two conceded. Victor Osimhen displays clinical realism (16 goals in 17 league games), the defense is airtight and confidence is at its peak: Napoli, who are 13 points clear at the top of the league, are clearly ready for the return of the Champions League. And precisely, Spalletti has already announced it this weekend: the Neapolitans are not going to be satisfied with the Scudetto, they also want the C1.

Benfica : Imperturbable

  • Opponent in the round of 16: Eintracht Frankfurt

Enzo Fernandez went to Chelsea against a very nice check. And we will have to see what impact the departure of the Argentine world champion will have on Benfica’s performance. The dynamic is for the moment still there for the residents of the Estádio da Luz. If the recovery after the World Cup was marked by a hiccup against Braga (0-3) – their first defeat of the season in all competitions – the players of the German Roger Schmidt have resumed their cruising speed. Undefeated in the first phase of the Champions League and first in the group ahead of PSG, they remain before challenging Bruges in C1 on four league successes without taking a goal and still prancing at the top of the championship with eight ahead of Porto, who yet holds the pace in 2023.

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