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Ultimate Champions League Knockout Stage Preview

Here is the beerbellysoccer.com preview of all the match ups in the Champions League Knockout Stage. More info on all the teams and the league draw can be found here: https://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/draws/

Borussia Monchengladbach vs Manchester City

Make no mistake; this is going to be a very competitive match up. Manchester City has not been on a great run of form throughout the course of this season. Monchengladbach on the other hand looks like a team that has the ability to make a deeper run in the Champions League than expected. This is definitely a match up that the neutral supporter will want to keep a very close eye on.

Lazio vs Bayern Munich

Lazio has done very well up to this point in making it to the knockout stages. On the other hand, Bayern Munich may be considered the favorites to win the whole tournament. It is going to take a mighty effort from Lazio to make it through to the quarterfinals but stranger things have happened.

Atletico Madrid vs Chelsea

This has the makings of a very competitive match up. Atletico Madrid had to sneak through the group stages off the back off a few draws. Chelsea was able to dominate their group as they finished at the top with 14 points. But even with the differing form, this one should be very close. Atletico always has a very stingy defense under head coach Diego Simeone. But at the same time, Chelsea has one of the more exciting attacks in the world, led by Timo Werner. This could lead to a very exciting back and forth between the two teams.

RB Leipzig vs Liverpool

Coming off one of their most successful seasons in recent memory, Liverpool were considered one of the favorites to win the Champions League this year. Unfortunately they’ve had to deal with tough injuries that have left them vulnerable. This RB Leipzig side will look to take advantage of this and push on to the quarterfinals. It may seem strange, but don’t forget that Leipzig made it all the way to the semis just last season. They are definitely a capable side that could make a deep run.

FC Porto vs Juventus

Juventus has not been quite as dominant as they usually are in league play. It’s fair to wonder if that could carry over to their Champions League form. Although most would pick them as the easy favorites to move on, FC Porto could cause some problems. Porto played strong in the group stages and will look to bring the same form into the knockout stages.

FC Barcelona vs PSG

Two of the biggest clubs in world football at the moment, this will assuredly be an exciting match up. There had been rumors floating around for the past year that Neymar would be making his move back to Spain. But the move never ended up coming together. So now we get to see two of the most exciting players in Lionel Messi and Neymar face up against each other. It’s hard to say who the favorite really is at this point but from a neutral perspective this is must watch football.

Sevilla vs Borussia Dortmund

Sevilla has been absolutely dominant in the Europa league in recent years. Could this be the year that they turn that dominance into the Champions League? It seems doubtful that it will happen this year. Dortmund has one of the most exciting teams in the world at the moment. They may also have the most wanted player in the world with Erling Haaland. Haaland has been a dominant force, even at a young age. It wouldn’t be too surprising to see Dortmund make it through quite comfortably.

Atalanta vs Real Madrid

This is probably the strangest match up out of the Champions League draw. Atalanta have easily been one of the most exciting teams in the world with their strong attacking play style. But Real Madrid has the pedigree as the most successful team in Champions League history. It’s very difficult to even make a prediction for the outcome of this match up. For now it seems like Madrid will make it through, but it should be closer than most expect.

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Serie A

Can AC Milan Win the Serie A Title This Year?

Can AC Milan win the Serie A title this year? The short answer to this question is yes, but the long answer is a little bit more complicated. Today we’ll be taking a look at AC Milan in order to answer the question of whether they can realistically win the title this season.

Defense

When taking a look at Milan’s defense, it’s clear to see they are much improved from years past. The resurgence of both Simon Kjaer and Davide Calabria is a big part of that improvement. It also seems Milan have found a solid defensive partnership with Kjaer and Alessio Romagnoli. Alongside goalie Gianluigi Donnarumma, this is a very sturdy back line. Theo Hernandez is one of the better attacking fullbacks in Serie A. He should provide additional help both in defense and the attack. But the main weakness for Milan’s defense comes with their depth. At center back they currently have Matteo Gabbia and Mateo Mussachio, neither of which brings a whole lot of confidence. At fullback their main depth is Diogo Dalot who joined on loan from Manchester United. While he’s been playing very well so far there really isn’t too much behind him. Overall, it’s a very solid starting group but the lack of depth could end up hurting Milan.

Midfield

The midfield may be the current strength of this Milan team. In Franck Kessie and Ismael Bennacer, Milan has one of the strongest midfield partnerships in the league. Recent signing Sandro Tonali has loads of talent and should receive consistent playing time behind the starters. In the attacking midfield positions, Hakan Calhanoglu and Brahim Diaz have both shown the ability to create chances and score goals. This will be vital for Milan moving forward as they try to compete with teams that have more attacking firepower.

Forwards

The most important player currently at AC Milan is also their oldest. Zlatan Ibrahimovic has gotten off to a roaring start this season, showing that he can compete at any team in the world at the age of 39. Behind him Rafael Leao has shown a lot of promise and will look to improve throughout the season as he learns from Zlatan himself. Ante Rebic is another forward who has shown tons of quality but unfortunately found himself injured for the beginning of the season. He will be very important for Milan as they don’t have a ton of quality depth in attack. On the wings Samu Castillejo and Alexis Saelemaekers are the main players. This is probably Milan’s greatest area of need in the January transfer window as they will need to improve in both quality and depth.

January Transfer Window

In the transfer window there a few clear areas of need for AC Milan. In central defense they need to bring in someone who can be a strong third option. They will also probably look to move on from one of their options, either Mateo Mussachio or Leo Duarte. Milan could also potentially use another fullback on the left side who can give Theo Hernandez a rest every now and then. Finally, AC Milan will need to strengthen in attack. They will likely need another striker for depth behind Zlatan and Rafael Leao, as well as another winger. They did bring in Jens Petter Hauge at the end of the summer window, so if he can become a focal point on the wing then it may not be a huge need.

Conclusion

At the start of the season, AC Milan looked like a team that would compete for a Champions league spot. The narrative has changed as they find themselves at the top of the league through games. AC Milan can definitely compete for the title this season, but it will depend on how well the starters can continue to play. With a lack of depth at a few positions, it’s important for them to fill in some gaps in the January transfer window. But overall I think Milan look like a team that is ready to compete right now.

Here is a quick link to the updated Serie A table where you can track AC Milan’s progress: https://www.skysports.com/serie-a-table

If you are interested in other Beer Belly Soccer Serie A content: https://www.beerbellysoccer.com/category/serie-a/