Football: Bayern, Liverpool, Milan … the “big” European clubs suffering after the World Cup
Unbeaten since the start of the season, Paris stunned Lens (3-1) and Rennes (2-0) in January. The demolition of the Pays de Cassel did not erase the difficulties seen in the last meetings, Christophe Galtier confessed that he worked on the offensive animation of his team. Fortunately for PSG, he is not the only European technician with a job.
The leaders are not all digesting the World Cup. Big cars are necessarily more affected by the World Cup. Most of their players ran out of fuel in Qatar but this potential physical or psychological cost does not explain everything. Barça fielded 17 players among the selections involved and still stole the lead in La Liga from Real and dominated their rivals in the Spanish Super Cup final.
Only, the Blaugrana will not appear in the table of the knockout stages of the Champions League. Unlike PSG, against a purring Bayern Munich. “It’s time for us to change gears,” warned Hasan Salihamidzic, Bavarian sports director, after the draw against Cologne (1-1). While the Bundesliga resumed late, on January 20 with Leipzig-Bayern (1-1), the restart of the leader of the championship was sluggish.
Milan haven’t won in 5 games
In Bavaria, two rank draws are almost synonymous with a crisis. To the results, was added a lack of inspiration and accuracy on the ball and a disorganized block in the loss of leather. If Yann Sommer, Manuel Neuer’s replacement, is well integrated, Bayern have sacked their goalkeeper coach. The second period against Cologne and the cannon of Joshua Kimmich however left a positive taste. A taste that Milan supporters are in danger of forgetting.
The post-World Cup turn was not well negotiated by AC Milan, crushed by Lazio (4-0) in Serie A after a painful defeat against Inter (3-0) in the Italian Supercup. The Rossoneri have not won for five games and some of their weapons are rusty, less than three weeks from the reception of Tottenham. Mike Maignan should be back for the second half of February, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is out and Theo Hernandez is feeling the backlash of the World Cup. The good news? Spurs have lost three of their six league games since the international break.
Knocked out by Manchester City (4-2), beaten by Arsenal (2-0), Antonio Conte’s men are unable to dominate the teams in their ranking, despite their fifth place. The technician organized a meeting with his players to draw a line under the first part of the season and stimulate a new dynamic. As with Milan, Spurs’ summer signings have not advanced the team much.
The Blues’ transfer window, the Reds’ fatigue
It was also through the transfer window that Chelsea tried to generate shock. The Blues are stuck in tenth place in the Premier League, due to injuries to Wesley Fofana, Reece James or N’Golo Kanté. The arrivals of Mykhaïlo Mudryk, Joao Felix and Benoît Badiashile increased the total of 450 million euros spent this season by 150 million euros. Against Liverpool (0-0), the Ukrainian showed that he doesn’t need a functional collective around him to put in some flashes.
Proficient at leading more modest teams, Graham Potter has had a shot of the old since his arrival at Stamford Bridge in September. Thomas Tuchel’s replacement failed to inject his formula, made of short ball outings and coordinated movement between interchangeable players, into the Chelsea collective. It’s not easy leading a locker room of stars, but Potter has just three weeks left before the trip to Dortmund, the winner of his two resume matches.
The weakness of some big players is partly explained by transfer windows that have not yet borne fruit. At Liverpool, the absence of rookies in midfield has punished a team marred by a season that ended in two cup finals and another in the Champions League. Mohammed Salah is not playing at his level last year, the pressing is harmless, the midfield is permeable and the defensive line is too exposed.
Guardiola: ‘I don’t care about the Premier League’
This season, the best Liverpooldian player is called Alisson. The Brazilian goalkeeper couldn’t stop the three goals conceded against Brentford (3-1) and Brighton (3-0). “I can’t remember a worse match, Jürgen Klopp’s reaction, after this defeat against the Seagulls. And I’m talking about my whole career, not just Liverpool. “The German coach is struggling to find eleven types, he who has the seventh season with the Reds. In the Champions League, the ninth in the Premier League still beat Naples (2-0) but with an appointment with Real Madrid, the his pet peeve since the first loss in the final, in 2018.
Finally, in Manchester City, the situation is less worrying but Pep Guardiola has not managed to unite his collective as before. Worse still, the Skyblues were relegated five lengths behind Arsenal, despite one match to go. “I don’t care about the Premier League or the Carabao Cup, we can’t win them,” said Pep Guardiola after the defeat against Manchester United (2-1). For the trip to Leipzig on February 22, the Spaniard can rely on his miracle card, which was not damaged by the Qatari sun: Erling Haaland.