In Paris a less glamorous and more concrete turn with Galtier: a revolution that is worth the Champions League. Among the Portuguese of Rui Costa, watch out for Ramos and Silva. The Israelis focus on Pierrot’s 194 centimeters
Paris Saint-Germain, Benfica and Maccabi Haifa: the urn offers Juventus a Champions League group with a competitor for the first place who is among the favorites of the cup and a rest of the group to ensure the passage of the round, without being able to afford voltage drops.
The Galtier era, with Messi reborn
by Alessandro Grandesso
Operation ransom, but in the name of anti-blingbling, as President Al Khelaifi now preaches. After the era of whims and privileges, now it is only about sweating and winning. And so the revolution in Psg started. Outside Pochettino, inside the less glamorous Galtier who, however, started with a bang: 17 goals scored and 1 suffered in three championship rounds. But it was above all Messi who was reborn, a ghost last year, brilliant again in this start of the season. Goals and assists to rain also from Neymar, unofficially on the market. And Mbappé is no less immediately overwhelming, complete with a lightning goal for 8 seconds. With Donnarumma between the posts and Verratti in the direction, the emir’s club tries again to win the Champions League, the only trophy that counts in Doha.
THE STAR: MBAPPE ‘
After a soap opera season, Mbappé decided to stay, refusing the advances of Real Madrid and signing a three-year deal with PSG that put him at the center of the project, as he asked, guaranteeing him 40 million per season. The Frenchman goes in search of the first Champions League with the help of Messi and Ney.
It was the less popular name, but in the end the go-ahead for the Frenchman came from Doha, who has always caused disappointment as an opponent at the PSG. After Saint Etienne, Lille and Nice, the 55-year-old must prove that he is up to the great stars he trains.
HOW TO PLAY (3-4-1-2)
Donnarumma; Ramos, Marquinhos, Kimpembe; Hakimi, Vitinha, Verratti, Mendes; Messi; Mbappé, Neymar.
New course, two stars
by Francesco Pietrella
First news: so far Benfica have not lost a game. Six matches, six wins, 17 goals scored and only two conceded, both from Midtjylland. After passing the preliminary rounds, the Portuguese arrive in the groups with the charge of those who want to amaze. New coach Roger Schmidt has already shaped the team in his image and likeness, gegenpressing and many goals. Gonçalo Ramos, 21, has already earned the reputation of “new Joao Felix”, 5 goals and 4 assists in 6 games. In Lisbon they call him the “Feiticeiro”, the sorcerer, because – as he says – “there was a period in which I won all the rebounds”. Hence a bit of magic. Others to keep an eye on: the usual Otamendi, the two midfielders Florentino and Fernandez (the latter already an idol of the fans), the winger David Neres and some acquaintances of Serie A, Gil Dias, Meité, Joao Mario and Adel Taarabt, now out of pink, close to saying goodbye to Da Luz after three seasons. After Nunez, who had flown to Liverpool for 100 million, came the Argentine Fernandez, the Norwegian midfielder Aursnes, David Neres, the full-back Bah and João Victor, central. The president is Manuel Rui Costa, 10 classic of Milan and Fiorentina. Last note: in the youth teams there is Cher Ndour, a 2004 blue talent, a Pogba-style midfielder and reigning champion of the last Youth League.
THE STAR: RAFA SILVA
Winger, playmaker, second striker. Rafa Silva is a wild card with an easy assist. At Benfica since 2016, he has won two championships, two Super Cups and scored 61 goals, 21 of these in the record year 2018-19. This year he is already at 3. Class of ’93, a couple of years ago he was nicknamed “the Hazard of Portugal”. Curiosity. As a child he made a bet with his father: “If you score at least 30 goals in a year, stop smoking.” At the Silva house there is no trace of cigarettes.
THE TECHNICIAN: SCHMIDT
The challenge with the Italian clubs is equal. Good against Lazio, the preliminary Championships won in 2015, and bad against Roma, defeated away and equal to Leverkusen, with 4 taken. Roger Schmidt, 55, a German from Kierspe, a past as an automotive engineer, is one of the leading exponents of gegenpressing. Benfica will be quick, fast, effective, cynical, almost lethal. His masterpiece remains the three-year period 2014-17 with Bayer Leverkusen, before an inexplicable move to China with Beijing Guoan. After winning the Dutch Cup and Super Cup with PSV, he chose Portugal. One of his trainings with Salzburg is still on YouTube: the exercises touch the keystones of the Schmidt system, namely the pressing, the ball recovery and the speed in the shot.
HOW TO PLAY (4-2-3-1)
Vlachodimos; Gilberto, Otamendi, Morato, Grimaldo; Fernandez, Florentino; Neres, Rafa Silva, João Mario; Gonçalo Ramos. All: Schmidt
That precedent of 13 years ago
by Francesco Calvi
A history of over a hundred years and 14 league titles on the bulletin board. For the third time in the last 20 years, Maccabi Haifa is among the 32 teams participating in the group stage of the Champions League. He was missing from 2009-10, when he found himself in group A together … at Juventus. On that occasion, the bianconeri won both matches 1-0, thanks to goals from Chiellini and Camoranesi. The start of the Israeli championship is set for August 30, but Barak Bakhar’s team has already played six official matches this season, beating Olympiacos, Apollon Limassol and Dejan Stankovic’s Red Star in the preliminary rounds. That of Maccabi was a last-minute qualification, the result of an own goal by the Serbs in full recovery.
THE STAR: PIERROT
Born in the Haiti Islands in 1995, the Maccabi center forward moved to Haifa just a month ago, presenting himself in the best possible way to his fans. Raised (also) as a football player in the USA, in 2018 he landed in the Belgian league, before moving to Guingamp in the French Serie B. In the last season he has collected 15 goals; Maccabi noticed this and offered him to dream of the Champions League together. Mission accomplished, because the 194 cm giant scored 5 goals in the 6 matches valid for the play-offs.
THE TECHNICIAN: BAKHAR
Over the past seven seasons, the Maccabi Haifa manager has won five league titles. Considering he is only 43, he is widely recognized as the most promising coach in Israeli football. Do you remember Hapoel Beer Sheva, who in 2016 managed to beat Inter Milan first by De Boer and then by Pioli, during the groups of the Europa League? Here, he was their coach. At that time he was 37 years old, now Mr. Bakhar also has a little more experience.
HOW TO PLAY (4-3-3)
Cohen; Sundgren, Planic, Goldberg, Cornud; Chery, Lavi, Ali Mohamed; Haziza, Pierrot, David.
August 25, 2022 (change August 25, 2022 | 19:47)
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