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Insight

Here we go

With the World Cup now in the rear-view mirror and the Champions League knockout stage set to unfold, a little refresher course is in order

WORDS Michael Harrold

It’s back! Finally, the Champions League is up and running again. Not since the days of the old European Cup, and the plague of frozen pitches during deepest winter, have supporters had to wait so long between rounds of this competition. And never before has a World Cup split the season in two. But now it’s full steam ahead for the race to Istanbul. To get you up to speed, here are ten stories to keep an eye on as the knockout stage begins.

Messi mission

‘El Mago’ returned to Paris this winter with the one trophy he had coveted for so long, the World Cup, safely stowed in his locker. Lionel Messi’s genius was instrumental to Argentina’s triumph in Qatar. Can he now help the French champions end their own long pursuit of an elusive prize?

Kids are alright

Look out for some new faces as coaches try to keep squads fresh after a long and draining winter for their senior players. Both Pep Guardiola at Manchester City and Liverpool’s Jürgen Klopp have been turning to the kids for an injection of energy; City’s Rico Lewis, in particular, has already stood out this year.

Hey big spender

Even by their standards, Chelsea have astonished with the staggering sums they have spent this season, with another massive outlay during the January transfer window. All eyes will be on Graham Potter to see if he can use the new recruits to galvanise his team midway through a challenging campaign. Enzo Fernández, Mykhailo Mudryk and João Félix provide a treasure chest of attacking options, with Benoît Badiashile bolstering the defence. They will need to hit the ground running.

Goal kings

Since Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick of scoring titles between 2016 and 2018, there has been a different top scorer for each of the past four seasons. Erling Haaland ended the group stage with five goals from four appearances, two shy of leading marksmen Mohamed Salah and Kylian Mbappé who have seven apiece. Who will win the crown this time?

It’s back! Finally, the Champions League is up and running again. Not since the days of the old European Cup, and the plague of frozen pitches during deepest winter, have supporters had to wait so long between rounds of this competition. And never before has a World Cup split the season in two. But now it’s full steam ahead for the race to Istanbul. To get you up to speed, here are ten stories to keep an eye on as the knockout stage begins.

Messi mission

‘El Mago’ returned to Paris this winter with the one trophy he had coveted for so long, the World Cup, safely stowed in his locker. Lionel Messi’s genius was instrumental to Argentina’s triumph in Qatar. Can he now help the French champions end their own long pursuit of an elusive prize?

Kids are alright

Look out for some new faces as coaches try to keep squads fresh after a long and draining winter for their senior players. Both Pep Guardiola at Manchester City and Liverpool’s Jürgen Klopp have been turning to the kids for an injection of energy; City’s Rico Lewis, in particular, has already stood out this year.

Hey big spender

Even by their standards, Chelsea have astonished with the staggering sums they have spent this season, with another massive outlay during the January transfer window. All eyes will be on Graham Potter to see if he can use the new recruits to galvanise his team midway through a challenging campaign. Enzo Fernández, Mykhailo Mudryk and João Félix provide a treasure chest of attacking options, with Benoît Badiashile bolstering the defence. They will need to hit the ground running.

Goal kings

Since Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick of scoring titles between 2016 and 2018, there has been a different top scorer for each of the past four seasons. Erling Haaland ended the group stage with five goals from four appearances, two shy of leading marksmen Mohamed Salah and Kylian Mbappé who have seven apiece. Who will win the crown this time?

Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!

Napolis new hero

Of all the kids catching the eye, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia is one of the biggest surprises this season. The Georgian winger’s silky skills, desire to beat a man and direct approach are even earning ‘Kvaradona’ comparisons with Napoli’s favourite adopted son. How far can he take them?

We meet again

Liverpool and Real Madrid meet again less than a year after their final showdown in Paris. Vinícius Júnior made the difference at the Stade de France, but can Jürgen Klopp’s side turn the tables this time? Also in the offing is a repeat of the 2020 decider between Bayern and Paris; the Champions League is back with a bang.

Haaland factor

Outside of Bayern and last year’s finalists, only Chelsea have lifted the trophy in the past decade – but could we have a new name on the cup? A lot will depend on whether City striker Erling Haaland can continue his extraordinary scoring streak. The 22-year-old has already hit 28 goals in 23 Champions League games at a rate of 1.22 per match. Keep that up and this may just – finally – be City’s year.

In Bruges

Former England international and Chelsea midfielder Scott Parker faces a big challenge in his first Champions League game as the new coach of Club Brugge, with Benfica the opponents. He’s led both Fulham and Bournemouth to Premier League promotion in his short managerial career, so he knows all about stepping up.

Third time lucky

It’s been a fair old wait but this time we’ll be heading to Istanbul for the final (fingers crossed). The Atatürk Olympic Stadium was slated to host both the 2020 and 2021 deciders, only for Covid-19 to intervene, but that’s where the trophy will be lifted on 10 June. Meanwhile the Women’s Champions League final takes place exactly a week prior, in Eindhoven.

Portuguese power

Benfica and Porto share four European Cups between them and the Portuguese giants are flexing their muscles once again. With Real Madrid the sole Spanish group stage survivors, the round of 16 features more clubs from Portugal than Spain for the first time in the Champions League era.

It’s back! Finally, the Champions League is up and running again. Not since the days of the old European Cup, and the plague of frozen pitches during deepest winter, have supporters had to wait so long between rounds of this competition. And never before has a World Cup split the season in two. But now it’s full steam ahead for the race to Istanbul. To get you up to speed, here are ten stories to keep an eye on as the knockout stage begins.

Messi mission

‘El Mago’ returned to Paris this winter with the one trophy he had coveted for so long, the World Cup, safely stowed in his locker. Lionel Messi’s genius was instrumental to Argentina’s triumph in Qatar. Can he now help the French champions end their own long pursuit of an elusive prize?

Kids are alright

Look out for some new faces as coaches try to keep squads fresh after a long and draining winter for their senior players. Both Pep Guardiola at Manchester City and Liverpool’s Jürgen Klopp have been turning to the kids for an injection of energy; City’s Rico Lewis, in particular, has already stood out this year.

Hey big spender

Even by their standards, Chelsea have astonished with the staggering sums they have spent this season, with another massive outlay during the January transfer window. All eyes will be on Graham Potter to see if he can use the new recruits to galvanise his team midway through a challenging campaign. Enzo Fernández, Mykhailo Mudryk and João Félix provide a treasure chest of attacking options, with Benoît Badiashile bolstering the defence. They will need to hit the ground running.

Goal kings

Since Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick of scoring titles between 2016 and 2018, there has been a different top scorer for each of the past four seasons. Erling Haaland ended the group stage with five goals from four appearances, two shy of leading marksmen Mohamed Salah and Kylian Mbappé who have seven apiece. Who will win the crown this time?

Here we go
Insight

Here we go

With the World Cup now in the rear-view mirror and the Champions League knockout stage set to unfold, a little refresher course is in order

WORDS Michael Harrold

It’s back! Finally, the Champions League is up and running again. Not since the days of the old European Cup, and the plague of frozen pitches during deepest winter, have supporters had to wait so long between rounds of this competition. And never before has a World Cup split the season in two. But now it’s full steam ahead for the race to Istanbul. To get you up to speed, here are ten stories to keep an eye on as the knockout stage begins.

Messi mission

‘El Mago’ returned to Paris this winter with the one trophy he had coveted for so long, the World Cup, safely stowed in his locker. Lionel Messi’s genius was instrumental to Argentina’s triumph in Qatar. Can he now help the French champions end their own long pursuit of an elusive prize?

Kids are alright

Look out for some new faces as coaches try to keep squads fresh after a long and draining winter for their senior players. Both Pep Guardiola at Manchester City and Liverpool’s Jürgen Klopp have been turning to the kids for an injection of energy; City’s Rico Lewis, in particular, has already stood out this year.

Hey big spender

Even by their standards, Chelsea have astonished with the staggering sums they have spent this season, with another massive outlay during the January transfer window. All eyes will be on Graham Potter to see if he can use the new recruits to galvanise his team midway through a challenging campaign. Enzo Fernández, Mykhailo Mudryk and João Félix provide a treasure chest of attacking options, with Benoît Badiashile bolstering the defence. They will need to hit the ground running.

Goal kings

Since Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick of scoring titles between 2016 and 2018, there has been a different top scorer for each of the past four seasons. Erling Haaland ended the group stage with five goals from four appearances, two shy of leading marksmen Mohamed Salah and Kylian Mbappé who have seven apiece. Who will win the crown this time?

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

It’s back! Finally, the Champions League is up and running again. Not since the days of the old European Cup, and the plague of frozen pitches during deepest winter, have supporters had to wait so long between rounds of this competition. And never before has a World Cup split the season in two. But now it’s full steam ahead for the race to Istanbul. To get you up to speed, here are ten stories to keep an eye on as the knockout stage begins.

Messi mission

‘El Mago’ returned to Paris this winter with the one trophy he had coveted for so long, the World Cup, safely stowed in his locker. Lionel Messi’s genius was instrumental to Argentina’s triumph in Qatar. Can he now help the French champions end their own long pursuit of an elusive prize?

Kids are alright

Look out for some new faces as coaches try to keep squads fresh after a long and draining winter for their senior players. Both Pep Guardiola at Manchester City and Liverpool’s Jürgen Klopp have been turning to the kids for an injection of energy; City’s Rico Lewis, in particular, has already stood out this year.

Hey big spender

Even by their standards, Chelsea have astonished with the staggering sums they have spent this season, with another massive outlay during the January transfer window. All eyes will be on Graham Potter to see if he can use the new recruits to galvanise his team midway through a challenging campaign. Enzo Fernández, Mykhailo Mudryk and João Félix provide a treasure chest of attacking options, with Benoît Badiashile bolstering the defence. They will need to hit the ground running.

Goal kings

Since Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick of scoring titles between 2016 and 2018, there has been a different top scorer for each of the past four seasons. Erling Haaland ended the group stage with five goals from four appearances, two shy of leading marksmen Mohamed Salah and Kylian Mbappé who have seven apiece. Who will win the crown this time?

Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!

Napolis new hero

Of all the kids catching the eye, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia is one of the biggest surprises this season. The Georgian winger’s silky skills, desire to beat a man and direct approach are even earning ‘Kvaradona’ comparisons with Napoli’s favourite adopted son. How far can he take them?

We meet again

Liverpool and Real Madrid meet again less than a year after their final showdown in Paris. Vinícius Júnior made the difference at the Stade de France, but can Jürgen Klopp’s side turn the tables this time? Also in the offing is a repeat of the 2020 decider between Bayern and Paris; the Champions League is back with a bang.

Haaland factor

Outside of Bayern and last year’s finalists, only Chelsea have lifted the trophy in the past decade – but could we have a new name on the cup? A lot will depend on whether City striker Erling Haaland can continue his extraordinary scoring streak. The 22-year-old has already hit 28 goals in 23 Champions League games at a rate of 1.22 per match. Keep that up and this may just – finally – be City’s year.

In Bruges

Former England international and Chelsea midfielder Scott Parker faces a big challenge in his first Champions League game as the new coach of Club Brugge, with Benfica the opponents. He’s led both Fulham and Bournemouth to Premier League promotion in his short managerial career, so he knows all about stepping up.

Third time lucky

It’s been a fair old wait but this time we’ll be heading to Istanbul for the final (fingers crossed). The Atatürk Olympic Stadium was slated to host both the 2020 and 2021 deciders, only for Covid-19 to intervene, but that’s where the trophy will be lifted on 10 June. Meanwhile the Women’s Champions League final takes place exactly a week prior, in Eindhoven.

Portuguese power

Benfica and Porto share four European Cups between them and the Portuguese giants are flexing their muscles once again. With Real Madrid the sole Spanish group stage survivors, the round of 16 features more clubs from Portugal than Spain for the first time in the Champions League era.

It’s back! Finally, the Champions League is up and running again. Not since the days of the old European Cup, and the plague of frozen pitches during deepest winter, have supporters had to wait so long between rounds of this competition. And never before has a World Cup split the season in two. But now it’s full steam ahead for the race to Istanbul. To get you up to speed, here are ten stories to keep an eye on as the knockout stage begins.

Messi mission

‘El Mago’ returned to Paris this winter with the one trophy he had coveted for so long, the World Cup, safely stowed in his locker. Lionel Messi’s genius was instrumental to Argentina’s triumph in Qatar. Can he now help the French champions end their own long pursuit of an elusive prize?

Kids are alright

Look out for some new faces as coaches try to keep squads fresh after a long and draining winter for their senior players. Both Pep Guardiola at Manchester City and Liverpool’s Jürgen Klopp have been turning to the kids for an injection of energy; City’s Rico Lewis, in particular, has already stood out this year.

Hey big spender

Even by their standards, Chelsea have astonished with the staggering sums they have spent this season, with another massive outlay during the January transfer window. All eyes will be on Graham Potter to see if he can use the new recruits to galvanise his team midway through a challenging campaign. Enzo Fernández, Mykhailo Mudryk and João Félix provide a treasure chest of attacking options, with Benoît Badiashile bolstering the defence. They will need to hit the ground running.

Goal kings

Since Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick of scoring titles between 2016 and 2018, there has been a different top scorer for each of the past four seasons. Erling Haaland ended the group stage with five goals from four appearances, two shy of leading marksmen Mohamed Salah and Kylian Mbappé who have seven apiece. Who will win the crown this time?

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

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