Bold UEFA Champions League predictions: Liverpool get revenge, Manchester United return to their winning ways

The Champions League is again on Paramount+ with the third spherical of group stage video games. That is the stage the place the teams actually begin to take form with every group having performed every of their opponents and it presents the right alternative for leaders to push away from the chasing pack… or for individuals who have made a sluggish begin to start to show issues round. This is what I am anticipating from three of the largest matches this week.

Liverpool get their revenge over Atletico Madrid

Liverpool might have ratcheted down the depth lengthy earlier than they did in Saturday’s 5-0 win over Watford. A merciless interpretation of the Hornets’ efficiency may even recommend that the minute Sadio Mane opened the scoring the Reds might have taken it again to strolling pace. And but they did not. Regardless of having a Champions League tie to worry about on Tuesday afternoon after a speedy turnaround from worldwide obligation to taking part in early on Saturday afternoon, Jurgen Klopp’s facet went for the jugular at Vicarage Street.

One couldn’t assist however suspect there was a selected motivating issue for the drubbing inflicted on Watford, who had ended what appeared to be an inevitable march to an undefeated title win in February 2020, the final assembly between these two sides. If that’s the case then woe betide the subsequent group towards whom Liverpool have beefs to squash. Enter Atletico Madrid, smash and seize victors within the Champions League spherical of 16 just a few weeks after that Watford defeat within the 2019-20 season.

Few are as effectively positioned to know the psyche of profitable Liverpool sides as Jim Beglin, a league champion with the Reds in 1986. He informed the ¡Qué Golazo! podcast that there will probably be an identical hankering for payback on the Wanda Metropolitana: “Going to Atleti, I believe they’re going to have that irritation at the back of their minds about the truth that once they went there two seasons in the past and misplaced unluckily, possibly Atletico Madrid have been a little bit lucky with the purpose they scored final night time contemplating Liverpool had many of the play. In fact Atleti did splendidly effectively at Anfield and ousted Liverpool from the competitors.

“However like Watford on Saturday, the final time they’d been there they have been crushed 3-0. They’d once more that drive and dedication that it wasn’t going to occur once more they usually have been going to make amends. I believe an identical perspective will probably be wanted, very a lot. 

“I believe Liverpool may simply have an added edge this time round.” 

Need to hear extra from particular visitor Beglin? Hear under and subscribe to ¡Qué Golazo! A Daily CBS Soccer Podcast the place we take you past the pitch and across the globe for commentary, previews, recaps and extra.   

Definitely you possibly can nonetheless sense that edgy undercurrent in the best way that Klopp takes about his dislike for the combative fashion of Diego Simeone’s facet. Greater than 18 months after he was questioning whether or not Atletico Madrid performed “correct soccer,” it appears the needle of that defeat nonetheless pricks this Liverpool facet.

That leaves one query to reply. Do Liverpool have the attacking high quality to get their revenge? Sure. Mohamed Salah is justifying Jurgen Klopp’s claims he’s one of the best participant on this planet. Sadio Mane just isn’t far behind. The fullbacks look again to their greatest creatively with extra secure foundations alongside them; these ought to solely enhance in Madrid with Fabinho again to anchor the midfield. Atletico look impenetrable in La Liga however gave up by far the higher probabilities towards Porto and the identical was the case towards AC Milan when it was 11 vs. 11 on the San Siro. They might not be capable to maintain the Reds at bay.

Manchester United discover an opponent that fits them

With former forged members returning in stunning, dramatic style; a will they, will not they (sack Ole Gunnar Solskjaer) storyline that appears to maintain rearing its head and the sense that for all of the anguish and heartbreak nothing actually appears to vary it typically looks like Manchester United are much less footballing entity than serial drama. Who wants an evaluation of their ways or recruitment? That is one the place we needs to be ceding experience to followers of The Younger and the Stressed or Coronation Road.

Assess Manchester United by that lens and it presents as convincing an evidence for what is going on as some other. We’re on the stage the place it appears to be like like change is inevitable, the place Solskjaer certainly cannot take anymore. Wednesday’s sport towards Atalanta is then, clearly, going to be the second the place he manages to cling on for a short time longer, at the very least till the subsequent dramatic crescendo.

On the pitch there are additionally explanation why Atalanta are the precise type of opponent for Manchester United. If Solskjaer’s facet ever seem like a group approximating the sum of their components it’s towards Leeds, a facet that, just like Atalanta, interact in aggressive excessive urgent and are ready to commit their gamers to at least one on one duels towards their opponents. In such circumstances the sheer particular person high quality of the United gamers, coupled with the defensive dynamism {that a} Scott McTominay-Fred midfield pivot can provide, shines by.

Atalanta have gained hearts, minds and video games with their aggressive fashion of play beneath Gianpiero Gasperini however it’s a excessive wire act. Take the passage under towards Sassuolo. Three gamers are pressuring Hamed Traore. Seconds earlier than this display screen shot it appears to be like like they’re going to win the ball, establishing what could be a 4 on three assault and presumably a 3rd purpose (sure right now they’re 2-0 up with half time quick approaching. If there’s any time whenever you need not cost into the press it is now).

Atalanta gamers press Sassuolo midfielder Traore
Wyscout/Sport 3

As a substitute Traore wiggles free and pings the ball to the precise and Mert Mulder. From there issues escalate rapidly with Atalanta out of the blue discovering themselves a little bit gentle on numbers, all their defenders drawn into particular person duels bar Davide Zappacosta, too far throughout the pitch to actually assist.

Sassuolo break the preliminary press and are swiftly bearing down on the Atalanta purpose
Wyscout/Sport 3

It nonetheless takes a wonderful end from Domenico Berardi to beat Juan Musso however this was the type of hazard different groups may extra consciously guard towards. This isn’t the one time this has occurred in Serie A this season. A couple of weeks later a line breaking move by Franck Kessie negated the Atalanta press and unleashed an assault that noticed the sheer weight of numbers overwhelm La Dea, Davide Calabria scoring for AC Milan after a matter of seconds.

These are the kinds of video games United’s forwards relish, significantly Mason Greenwood and the returning Marcus Rashford. Give them damaged play and their technical excellence, sheer pace and ending prowess involves the fore. This may very well be the sport the place Solskjaer will get again to profitable methods.

Ajax make an announcement

One of many intriguing undercurrents of the primary two rounds of Champions League video games has been the excellent type of Dutch champions Ajax who smashed Sporting 5-1 and adopted that up with a no much less dominant 2-0 win over Besiktas. Previous to their shock loss to Utrecht earlier than the worldwide break Erik ten Hag’s facet had been no much less dominant within the Eredivisie. 9 video games into their league marketing campaign their purpose distinction is a gaudy plus 30.

All of it appears to be like fantastic however one can not assist however query how actual it’s. The Dutch league doesn’t essentially provide a uniformly excessive normal of competitors in contrast with the Champions League and although each Sporting and Besiktas have had affordable home seasons thus far, they’re hardly the type of groups one would anticipate to be concerned on the enterprise finish of this competitors. If you’d like an indication of why this all feels prefer it may very well be a bit too good to be true it lies in West Ham United flop Sebastien Haller having extra objectives than each facet within the group stage bar Bayern Munich, Liverpool and Manchester Metropolis. Ajax profile as a facet that needs to be concerned within the enterprise finish of the event. Their video games towards Dortmund ought to present us whether or not that could be a real looking purpose.

Having stated all that, there’s something spectacular certainly about Ten Hag’s facet, from the best way they use Ryan Gravenberch and Steven Berghuis to create overloads from central midfield once they assault to the ferocity with which Antony and Dusan Tadic lead the press to get it again. On the latter, Ajax lead the Champions League group stage groups by a long way when it comes to opposition passes per defensive motion at 5.67 in keeping with Wyscout (Liverpool and Atalanta, by means of distinction, each common round 7.1). Equally no group registers extra duels, tackles and interceptions per minute than the Dutch champions.

As UEFA’s technical panel famous after Ajax’s first sport of the group stage: “Sporting struggled with their sport plan to play out from the again on account of an aggressive five-man Ajax press, with the entire guests’ outfield gamers within the hosts’ half of the pitch.” If Erling Haaland is lining up towards you within the Champions League previous proof would recommend that by the point the ball will get close to your penalty space there’s not a lot hope. Fortunately for Ten Hag his facet have the look of a group who can preserve Borussia Dortmund from getting close to there. | Daring UEFA Champions League predictions: Liverpool get revenge, Manchester United return to their profitable methods


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