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Pressure on Pep to deliver, says Seagraves
It is that time of the year when the crème de la crème of European football make their early moves, with an eye on achieving continental glory.
The teams from the upper echelons of various domestic leagues will begin their campaign in the UEFA Champions League this week. Of the 32 sides that have made it to the main draw, one unit has perennially underperformed in the elite club competition – Manchester City (England).
Under Pep Guardiola, the Premier League holder is yet to make a semi-final appearance in the CL and football expert Mark Seagraves feels the pressure is on the Spaniard to guide it to its first crown. “Pep hasn’t done great things with City in Europe as he has in England. It has won the domestic titles in the last two years. The club would be hoping to bag the CL trophy, it is probably the one thing it wants now,” Seagraves told DT Next.
While City bolstered its already star-studded squad with the signings of Rodrigo and Joao Cancelo, CL defending champion Liverpool didn’t do much business during the summer transfer window. But the Englishman believes the Jurgen Klopp-managed outfit will go deep in the competition.
“Liverpool needs to keep the front three fit for the duration of the season. Not one team in the CL would want to play against it and that is the key. It has got a style of play which can take the game away from the opposition in just 20 minutes. I won’t term it the favourite, but it will certainly be in the mix,” opined Seagraves.
Barcelona (Spain), Inter Milan (Italy) and Borussia Dortmund (Germany) have all been drawn into a single mouth-watering group (F), which has Slavia Prague (Czech Republic) as its fourth representative. Talking about the ‘Group of Death’, the former Bolton Wanderers player remarked any of the first three teams mentioned above could progress to the knockouts.
“Milan has spent an awful lot of money. It is looking good in Serie A, it is a far better side than it was last year. The Barca-Dortmund duel will be a key fixture. Barcelona has not started the domestic season well,” he explained. After winning a hat-trick of CL titles, Real Madrid was in complete turmoil the previous season.
Following a couple of managerial sackings, ZinedineZidane took the job once again and spent millions in the off season to reinforce the squad. Although Real has managed to rope in some game-changing players, it will struggle once again in the CL, according to Seagraves. The Spanish side had gone down to Ajax Amsterdam in the Round-of-16 last time around.
“There is a lot of politics at the club at the moment. Everything isn’t rosy there, it has had its issues. It has got an ageing defence as well, which is not ideal. If you look at the other contenders (Juventus, Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid), they have strengthened the backline with youngsters,” he stated.
(UEFAChampions League matches can be caught live and exclusive on SONY TEN 1 (SD & HD) and SONY TEN 2 (SD & HD) channels)