The magic of Europe’s top club competition is about to unfold. Once again, teams from all over Europe will fight to lift the prestigious trophy.
Although the previous tournament editions have thrown many surprises and been completely unpredictable in nature, at the MBP School of Coaches, we will make a full analysis to highlight who we think are favorites for this season’s competition.
The English side is the current leading favorite to win the trophy. Thomas Tuchel’s team, besides being the current holders, have managed to strengthen even more over the summer with the addition of Romelu Lukaku, a figure who will undoubtedly improve the Blues.
If we focus on the main tactical aspects of their play, we can establish that the most significant part of last season’s winners is undeniably their defensive strength.
Over the last 8 months, the German coach has managed to build an exceptional defensive unit. Through their GK-5-2-3 base structure, Chelsea have become impenetrable in front of their own goal.
Players such as Azpilicueta, Thiago Silva and Rüdiger in the defensive line, along with Kanté and Jorginho, have benefited from the structure set up by Tuchel, providing consistent brilliant performances throughout the latter part of the 20/21 season.
Likewise, the application of fundamentals such as ‘Individually defending the opponent in risk areas’ and ‘Continuing to defend after the first phase of play’ enabled Chelsea to keep clean sheets in 19 of the 30 matches they have played since the arrival of the German to the dugout.
In second place, we have Josep Guardiola’s Manchester City. The Catalan coach is in his sixth season in Manchester, and, after falling just short of winning the trophy last season, is sure have his side as one of the final teams remaining in the competition come late April.
In addition, City have added Jack Grealish to their squad. The attacking midfielder will bring to Pep’s team an ability to unblanace opposition defences and play the final ball in the attacking third.
Along with Grealish, the presence of Kevin de Bruyne and other players such as Mahrez, Ruben Dias, Rodri and even Ferran Torres, who Guardiola may look to use as a ‘false 9’, will be decisive.
Focusing on more tactical aspects of their game, Guardiola has been accustomed to making certain modifications that tend to set the latest trends in today’s sport. The latest and most novel so far is the positioning of his two attacking midfielders in advanced positions in the final third and finishing moments, thus forming a line of 5 forwards.
The general objective of this positioning is to have more deep passing lines, while also fixing the opponent’s defensive line in order to surprise it with line breaking runs from the 2nd line. Furthermore, 1vs1 situations in wide areas can be created without close defensive coverage.
In last place, we have the Parisians led by Lionel Messi and Neymar Junior. The team, coached by Mauricio Pochettino, is without question the side who have recruited best during this transfer window.
In addition to the significant signing of Barcelona icon Lionel Messi, PSG have also reinforced in other areas such as with Hakimi, Donnaruma, Sergio Ramos and Wijnaldum. These are all players who, in addition to their individual quality, will most certainly provide the necessary experience to help the team manage key moments in the competition.
One aspect to consider that will surely be relevant during the course of the tournament will be the consolidation of Pochettino’s project. The Argentine coach arrived in Paris in the middle of last season, however, this season he has had the chance to start from the outset, something which will allow him to deepen and establish the basic pillars of his game model.