Nonetheless, former England worldwide Michael Owen, who performed for Actual Madrid for a season, believes that after years of taking part in catch up, Premier League golf equipment — Liverpool, Manchester Metropolis, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea — would be the groups to beat on this season’s match.
“I believe the English sport is simply stepping forward of the Spanish sport,” Owen instructed CNN Sport’s Christina MacFarlane. “I might nonetheless be going with an English group to win the Champions League once more this 12 months.”
EPL high quality
Owen’s prediction comes off the again of one of the crucial tightly fought Premier League campaigns within the competitors’s historical past.
Each Liverpool and eventual champion Manchester Metropolis set new requirements throughout a fairly exceptional marketing campaign during which Jurgen Klopp’s group completed second regardless of shedding only one league sport.
Credit score for the standard proven by each groups should lay on the toes of each Liverpool boss Klopp and Manchester Metropolis’s supervisor Pep Guardiola.
The 48-year-old Guardiola, particularly, has created a group able to dominating any opponent all over the world, paying homage to his miraculous Barcelona aspect that dominated European soccer for thus lengthy.
Nonetheless, regardless of its Premier League domination over the past two seasons, Metropolis has its sights set firmly of European glory — one thing that has averted Guardiola since he left the Nou Camp in 2012.
“If Manchester Metropolis and Liverpool may do a deal they’d swap it round,” stated Owen, talking in regards to the trophies each golf equipment received respectively final season. “They’re each craving what one another have gotten.”
Liverpool will open the protection of its title away to Napoli on Tuesday while Manchester Metropolis journey to Ukraine to tackle Shakhtar Donetsk Wednesday.
In the meantime, final 12 months’s overwhelmed finalist Tottenham will start its marketing campaign in opposition to Olympiacos and Chelsea hosts Valencia.
READ: Norwich stuns defending Premier League champion Manchester City
Actual Madrid’s dominance over?
Owen began his profession at Liverpool, bursting onto the scene as a fresh-faced 17-year-old with velocity to burn and an unequalled eye for objective.
Scoring 158 occasions in 297 appearances for the Reds, Owen established himself as one of many best gamers on the earth and wrote his identify within the historical past books by profitable the Ballon d’Or in 2003.
It was an accolade that instigated a transfer to Actual Madrid and a possibility to play alongside the famed Galacticos — becoming a member of the likes of Luís Figo, Ronaldo and David Beckham on the Bernabeu.
Nonetheless, the present Actual squad is a pale shadow of its former self, with boss Zinedine Zidane tasked with rebuilding an growing older group with out the talismanic Cristiano Ronaldo it had relied on for thus lengthy.
“Actual Madrid relied on him rather a lot once they received it,” added Owen, referring to Ronaldo and Actual’s earlier Champions League domination.
Madrid faces an thrilling tie in opposition to Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday, a sport which can see two of probably the most worthwhile soccer golf equipment on the earth go face to face.
Bankrolled by Qatari possession, PSG is the dominant power in Ligue 1 however the venture was at all times meant to reap rewards in Europe — a feat that has no far appeared past the Parisian membership.
“I anticipated extra from PSG for a few years,” Owen stated. “They have all the cash, all of the gamers. They do not have a tendency to have the ability to gel collectively and go on a severe run.”
‘Magic occurs’ at Anfield
With each of his former groups identified for his or her prowess in European competitors — Liverpool has six European titles whereas Actual Madrid has a file 13 — Owen thinks the Reds are more than likely so as to add to its assortment this season.
Along with a ahead line which has blown away defenses for the final two seasons, and a protection marshaled by Virgil van Dijk — Champions League defender of the season — Liverpool possesses one thing which makes them a really “nice knockout aspect.”
“They have one factor that no one else has acquired — and that is their residence floor,” Owen stated, referring to the 54,000 capability Anfield Stadium.
“Magic occurs at that floor, one thing occurs. I do not know why or how nevertheless it’s ingrained in that floor. So it doesn’t matter what the rating is, for those who go to Anfield as a second leg then you’re in for it.”
There’s a wealth of proof to again up Owen’s declare, not least final season’s miracle match in opposition to Barcelona.
Group of demise
It was the second consecutive 12 months that the Catalan membership threw away a seemingly unbeatable lead. In 2018, it was AS Roma who defied the percentages on the quarterfinal stage.
Barca now faces a tough path to the knockout phases of this season’s match after being drawn within the “Group of Dying,” alongside Borussia Dortmund, Slavia Prague and a resurgent Inter Milan.
Regardless of its fragility on the European stage lately, Owen nonetheless believes Barca can be favorites to progress from the group by profiting from slipping requirements within the Bundesliga.
“I believe Inter Milan may be fairly a powerful group this 12 months,” Owen stated when requested who would miss out on qualification from Group F.
[Dortmund] are an excellent group, plenty of expertise within the Champions League however German soccer is simply not, I do not know … Bayern Munich is wobbling just a little bit for the time being and never doing so properly within the Champions League. After all, they’re nonetheless profitable the Bundesliga so it is perhaps a mirrored image of the German league having a slight dip.”
Barcelona will face Dortmund in its first group sport on Wednesday.