European football leagues are kicking off new seasons and that means one thing – the Champions League is back. Last season’s All-England final between Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea and Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City feels like a distant memory. In fact, with a certain player’s move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain, it feels as if a new era has begun. More on that later, though.
In case you haven’t noticed, many teams have already embarked on their quest to win the European Cup. Clubs like Salzburg, Sheriff, Shakhtar Donetsk, Young Boys, Malmo, and Benfica have registered victories during the tournament’s qualifying rounds. By next week, the entire qualifying draw will be completed and the always-dramatic group stage draw will take place on August 26.
Of course, the chances of a play-off team winning the cup is slim. They aren’t even included on Champions League winner odds lists. On the other end of the list, teams like Manchester City (+300), Chelsea (+800), Liverpool (+750), Juventus (+1600), Bayern Munich (+550), Inter Milan (+4000), and Atletico Madrid (+2500) are all considered possible threats to emerge victorious. City and Bayern should be considered front-runners but by no means shoe-ins for the finals. That honor would go to another team.
Paris Saint-Germain managed to increase their chances of winning the Champions League without even kicking a ball. After years of courting Lionel Messi, the Parisian club finally landed the former Barcelona star on a free transfer, though his wages are astronomical. With both his experience and talent level, PSG are clearly hoping that he can put the teams over the top in the Champions League after being a finalist in 2019 and falling well short last season. He’ll be the obvious engine for an attack headed by Kylian Mbappe in the front and Neymar and Angel Di Maria to his left and right, respectively.
Here are their stats per fb-ref.com,
|Angel Di Maria||5.1||5.1||10.6||15.7|
It’s hard to see a better attack anywhere and anyone with eyes has taken note.
PSG was a +800 bet to win the 2021-22 Champions League title when the odds opened in mid July. After signing Lionel Messi, the Parisians instantly shortened to +320 according to SportsBettingDime.com, leapfrogging Liverpool (+775), Bayern Munich (+600), and former favorite Man City (+325). After a few days of betting action, they are around +275 at most sportsbooks.
That’s what happens when the GOAT (arguable, I know) joins your team. Never mind the fact that, at 34 years of age, he is nearing his sell-by date. A Messi playing at ¾ his potential is better than just about every player in every league in every country.
PSG’s off-season acquisitions go much further than Messi. In truth, it was only one of many significant moves the club made. They brought in Giorginio Wijnaldum from Liverpool to shore up the midfield. In order to shore up a defense that could be leaky at times, the club acquired Sergio Ramos from Real Madrid. He’ll be paired with Marquinhos and hopefully bring more solidity to the back line, though at 35 years old he’ll be . The most significant signing, however, may be the acquisition of Gianluigi Donnarumma from Juventus. He is considered the best young goalkeeper in the world and can potentially pay dividends for PSG long into the future. However, with Keylor Navas already holding that position in the club, there is a decent chance that he’ll be loaned back to Juve for this season. Either way, PSG have practically built a whole new spine from scratch. Money might not be able to buy you love, but it sure can buy a makeover for a football club.
With the Champions League draw a week away, the burning question is – can money buy you a European Cup? We’d say yes. Anything less, would signify a failed season for the most expensive club in football.