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How Will European Champions Line Up Next Year?

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How Will European Champions Line Up Next Year?

Looking at areas where five European champion football sides might want to improve, and how their transfers might stack up ahead of the new season.

Possible Transfers for European Champions 

European soccer is in fine fettle, with close-fought battles and the end of a dominant era in Serie A last season. Looking to the next, here’s how the defending champions stack up.

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Manchester City F.C

Title races don’t get much closer than the one Manchester City narrowly edged in the 2021-22 season, beating Liverpool by a single point. Doing so again next season will take a mighty effort, and even the most enthusiastic Manchester City fan will not be complacent about consecutive triumphs.</p> 

The team might lose Bernardo Silva to Barcelona (if rumours are to be believed), and Chelsea are looking to acquire Raheem Sterling. But when it comes to incoming transfers, names raised include Stefan Ortega as a second goalkeeper and Kalvin Phillips from Leeds. Phillips would help strengthen the champion’s midfield and is just one of several actual and potential signings the team is looking to make. Norwegian international striker Erling Haaland becomes a City player on 1 July 2022, as does Argentine forward Julian Alvarez, and could lend a very sharp edge to Manchester City’s attack (possibly even a return to the 3-5-2 system).

Another name in the frame for City, and one which would also make the old 3-5-2 a real possibility, is Brighton’s left back Marc Cucurella, though a potential move to the champion team is only speculation at this stage. It is hard to cite a single real area that Manchester City need to improve because they and Liverpool were so closely matched and far above every other team (they had an identical number of goals conceded and very similar overall goal differences). Right now, City’s main job is to stay ever so slightly ahead of Liverpool. The announced and rumored transfers indicate that the side are not taking things easy.

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Real Madrid CF 

By contrast, Real Madrid won La Liga by 13 points last season with title rivals Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, and Sevilla scrapping with one another to be the best of the rest. Only Sevilla had a better (by one goal) number of goals conceded and nobody got close to the number of goals scored by Real Madrid, so going into next season they look in good shape. But the other teams, especially arch rivals Barcelona, will not be asleep at the wheel and Real still needs to stay sharp or they’ll slip back soon enough.

One name that’s been mentioned in connection with Real Madrid is Paulo Dybala, an Argentine international currently with Juventus. The forward could be in the Spanish champion’s sights should they be unable to extend the contract of Marco Asensio with the club.

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The desire for another striker has been stated by Italian boss Carlo Ancelotti. While Karim Benzema is a fantastic striker and goal-scoring machine (219 goals in 415 appearances for the club), he’s also 34 and much nearer the end of his career than the start. While Real do have the services of Luka Jovic and Borja Mayoral, Ancelotti’s clearly got his eye out for another prolific scorer to retain Real’s cutting edge advantage.

FC Bayern Munich

Sitting between Manchester City’s nail-biting and wafer-thin victory and Real’s cruise to the title is Bayern Munich, who won the Bundesliga by 8 points last season. Despite fending off two Barcelona attempts to acquire Robert Lewandowski it is possible they might yet sell the striker, having recently brought in Senegalese striker Sadio Mane. Mane had played a key role in the revival of Liverpool’s fortunes, but the side just missed out on domestic glory last year and were pipped at the post in the Champion’s League too. He’s now joined the German champions on a three-year contract.

The club could stand to bolster its defensive strength, with the likes of Dayot Upamecano having plenty of room to improve, Tanguy Nianzou making errors, and Benjamin Pavard sometimes performing well and sometimes not. Potential defender transfer targets include the 24-year-old Nordi Mukiele (currently with RB Leipzig) and Bayer Leverkusen’s Jeremie Frimpong. One defender already heading to the German champions is Noussair Mazraoui, who leaves Ajax for Bayern Munich on 1 July.

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A.C. Milan

Another very tight title finish was in Serie A, which saw the title move to the red and black part of Milano. The Rossoneri beat their rivals by just two points to secure the Serie A title but will have their work cut out to retain the championship given how close last season was and how fired up the likes of Inter, Napoli (placed third) and Juventus will be for the forthcoming season. While the champions had a solid defensive proposition, the goals scored by A.C. Milan was the lowest in the top three and there’s clear scope to have a sharper attack. 

Multiple clubs on the continent are keen to sign up Chelsea’s Hakim Ziyech, who plays as an attacking midfielder and right winger, and it seems A.C. Milan is the likeliest club to snag this much-sought star, if he does end up changing clubs. The possible departure of Marco Asensio from Real Madrid has already been mentioned, and if he does go then the Italian champions are one of the most probable destinations.

Just like Ziyech, Asensio is a winger and attacking midfielder and would help to improve the goal-scoring potential of the club. Additionally, the Rossoneri managed to snap up Belgian striker Divock Origi on a free transfer after his contract with Liverpool expired. It is likely that Origi will have more playing time in Italy and is expected to showcase his abilities that we saw glimpses of in the Liverpool jersey. 

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Paris Saint-Germain F.C

Last but not least we come to the top dogs in France, PSG, winners of last season’s Ligue 1. PSG took the title with a chunky 15-point advantage over the next best side (Marseille), the joint fewest goals conceded, and the most goals scored (27 more than Marseille). 

One possible target for PSG is Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembele, a winger out of contract and fancied by teams from across Europe. Competition would be likely from teams including Bayern Munich and sides in the EPL. A defender that PSG is hunting for earnestly is Milan Skriniar, currently with Inter Milan. A reported bid of some €50m has already been rejected, but the French champions still have their heart set on getting Skriniar to Paris, but do face some competition from Chelsea (although it’s worth noting PSG have much deeper pockets if it comes down to a bidding war).

A major change for PSG could be an outgoing transfer, with much speculation that Neymar could be on his way out. While undoubtedly talented, Neymar has not necessarily endeared himself to many people (Eric Cantona has described him as a ‘great actor’).

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And that completes our look at five European champion teams, and what they need to do to defend their titles next season.

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EPL

‘Criminal!’ – Paul Scholes blasts two Man United players after Brighton defeat

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'Criminal!' - Paul Scholes blasts two Man United players after Brighton defeat

Paul Scholes hammered Scott McTominay and Fred after Manchester United slipped to a disappointed defeat to Brighton in their Premier League next season opener.

Erik ten Hag endured a horrible first serious game as United manager as his Red Devils side were beaten 2-1 at Old Trafford.

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Pascal Gross scored two goals in nine first-half minutes as Brighton took a directing lead which drove the home side to be booed off at half-time.

United, who finished sixth last season, improved after the break but were unable to mount a comeback despite Alexis Mac Allister’s unfortunate own goal.

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It was Brighton’s first-ever win at the Theatre of Dreams and marked a deflating start to the Ten Hag era at Manchester United.

Scholes described United’s first-half performance as ‘shambolic’ and singled out midfield duo McTominay and Fred for criticism.

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“It was a shocking start for Man United and the first half was shambolic really, Scholes told Premier League productions. “The signs were there right from the first few minutes that this was going to be bad.

“McTominay was always trying to run with the ball, ridiculous. The quality in the middle of the pitch was really poor.

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“I was happy he didn’t get sent off [for a high challenge] but I think he was slightly lucky. Again, he’s running with the ball, absolutely ridiculous.

“It could easily have been a red card. The quality in the middle of the pitch was nowhere near good enough but we’ve seen that for the last few years with these two players.

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“With Fred and McTominay, he [Ten Hag] is going to have to go with just one of them but even one of them is probably too many.

“Fred gives the ball away all the time and McTominay’s trying to run with the ball constantly and then gives it away. Pass it to your best players! It’s not that difficult. It’s criminal on a day like today.”

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Source: Metro

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EPL

Man Utd 1-2 Brighton Highlights

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Man Utd 1-2 Brighton Highlights

Manchester United on Sunday fell to a deserved defeat to Brighton as the Erik ten Hag started in defeat for the new manager.

It was a dismal display, and the visitors took full advantage as Pascal Gross twice scored in the first half to confirm the Seagulls’ first ever win over United.

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Ronaldo, who started on the bench, was introduced before the hour mark but could not inspire the comeback.

Man Utd vs Brighton Highlights

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EPL

West Ham 0-2 Man City: Haaland nets debut brace (Highlights)

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West Ham vs Man City: Haaland nets debut brace (Highlights)

New Manchester City signing Erling Haaland marked his Premier League debut with a double as the champions began their title defence with a clinical 2-0 victory over West Ham United at the London Stadium on Sunday.

Pep Guardiola’s City were awarded a penalty after 36 minutes when Haaland charged past the West Ham defence to latch onto a through ball and take it around Alphonse Areola before being fouled by the substitute goalkeeper.

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The Norwegian striker stepped up to convert the spot kick, his cool finish sending Areola the wrong way to give City a deserved lead after an utterly dominant first half in which West Ham were rarely able to venture from their own box.

West Ham vs Man City Highlights

Line-up

West Ham XI: Fabianski; Coufal, Zouma, Cresswell, Johnson; Rice, Soucek; Fornals, Lanzini, Bowen, Antonio.

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Subs: Areola, Ashby, Coventry, Randolph, Downes, Okoflex, Vlasic, Scamacca, Benrahma,

Manchester City XI: Ederson; Walker, Dias, Ake, Cancelo; Rodri, De Bruyne, Gundogan; Foden, Haaland, Grealish.

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Subs: Ortega Moreno, Phillips, Stones, Alvarez, Silva, Mahrez, Palmer, Lewis, Wilson-Esbrand.

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