Thanks to Kai Havertz’s first-half goal, Chelsea won 1-0 against Manchester City in the Champion League 2021. While fans are still singing praises or defending their favorite teams, conversations about the 2022 season are already opening.
The UEFA Champions League will roll out its 67th season in June 2021, with the final at Saint Petersburg, Russia. This season is a bit different because the UEFA, along with the Champions League, will also organize the UEFA Europa League and the newly created UEFA Europa Conference League. Eliminated teams from the preliminary and first qualifying round of the Champions League are now entering the Europa Conference League instead of the Europa League. Here are some key contestants that you might want to keep your eyes on in UCL 2022.
1. Manchester City
No doubt, Manchester City had lost the 2021 semi-finals in the first half itself. But they have collected a few wins in the rest of the year, like a Premier League title and the Carabao Cup. This is the first time they have secured a place in the finals, and they intend to make the most of it.
Their manager Pep Guardiola seems quite determined about leading them to victory in 2021-22; he told the press that his team would need to suffer to win. One would believe in him since he has led Barcelona to victory once as a player and twice as a coach in 2008 and 2011.
So far, Manchester City has been undefeated in the qualification round. They have drawn only once, compared to their famous rival Chelsea, who have drawn four times. But Chelsea has a notorious record; they have beaten Manchester City twice. It might just fuel a much-awaited redemption form from Manchester City.
2. Bayern Munich
Two thousand twenty champions Bayern Munich was in a tough spot recently because of the heated disagreements between their coach Hansi Flick and their sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic over transfer policy. Julian Nagelsmann, on a five-year contract, replaced Hansi Flick. Nagelsmann gives us a reason for hope; he led Leipzig into the semi-finals of the Champion League last year.
Bayern is known to play a high risk-high reward game. Also, some opine that they have a poor defense, and they often rely on the opponent’s weaknesses to factor in and work in favor of them. That could be the reason they get sloppy when faced with a tricky attacker.
Fans are also concerned over injuries sustained by key players like Benjamin Pavard and Nikolas Süle. Perhaps Bayern will be one of those teams backing down bit by bit in the initial stages but suddenly rises to the occasion and turns the game around.
Chelsea secured their second victory against Manchester City in the Champions League last year. They have been the best performing European team throughout the year, not just in the Champion League but other tournaments as well.
Chelsea spent a lot of money on powerful players in the previous season, like Kai Havertz, Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech. Although the outcome was not bad, the performance was not up to what they had expected. But since they have all the tools they need in their chest, strategy and vision might take them to the top for the third time in a row.
Liverpool has enough past achievements to rekindle hope among their fans for 2022. They emerged victorious in the previous two seasons of the Champions League and the Premier League. They managed to finish third in place in Champions League 2021, even after a grueling season. They have potent players like midfielder Fabiano, who plays a crucial role on the defense.
Stumped by field injuries, they went through a terrible slump in February. They were separated from the top four by eight points by March. Somehow, they managed to get a 26/30 on their scoreboard in the last ten games.
Fans were worried that Liverpool would live out its golden days soon as the team members had ridden over the peak of their careers. But the presence of Ibrahim Konate on board is a ray of hope. Apart from that, a trusted left-back, a reliable midfielder and injecting some young talent in the team might go a long way in boosting Liverpool’s performance.
5. Manchester United
Manchester United last bagged a victory in the league in 2012 when they defeated Bayern Munich in the finals. The closest they have come to winning after that was being 12 points behind Manchester City in 2018.
They have talented players like Greenman and Shaw, who have made significant progress since last season. Manchester United is also in a position to avail of the experience of seasoned players like Cavani and Fernandes. They face cutthroat competition from Liverpool; they are the most well-known rivalries of all times. But Manchester United has a history of taking advantage of their opponent's weaknesses.
In the times to come, fans count on a less chaotic season with more certainty and hope. Betting experts, bookmakers and even supercomputers are crunching numbers to tell the odds of UCL 2022 outcomes.
For example, a supercomputer on FiveThirtyEight, an American opinion poll and sports analysis website, has raised eyebrows by predicting the last eight of the 2021 Champions League. It says that Manchester City, Bayern Munich, Chelsea and Liverpool will make it to the top four.
You can place your bets on your favorite teams for 2022 using this betway promo code in SA. You can avail of the Betway South Africa voucher code along with a signup bonus, a free bet worth R25.
2021 was a turbulent year for leagues worldwide because of a lot of issues besides the pandemic. For example, in April 2021, several Spanish, English and Italian football clubs, including Manchester City, Manchester United, Barcelona and nine others, created a ‘European Super League.
UEFA and other national associations had warned that if such a league were formed, they would ban the participants from playing in international competitions. Considering this risk, a lot of participants withdrew from the league only a day later. You can read more about that in this article.