A Hot Take for Every Champions League Club After Gameweek 2

    Manchester United could be in line for a successful European adventure | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

    We’re two games into this season’s Champions League, meaning we officially have all the definitive answers as to how the competition will play out for the rest of the season.

    First game nerves are out of the way and the second round of fixtures showed us how the groups are beginning to shape up. A club can get away with a howler of a result in gameweek one, but another in gameweek two and suddenly the alarm bells start ringing.

    Football would be much less fun if us fans weren’t so inherently reactive and emotionally charged with opinions, so let’s throw a few more into the gauntlet. Here’s the hottest of hot takes for each side in the Champions League after gameweek two…

    Antony, Davy Klaassen, Dusan Tadic, Ryan Gravenberch
    Ajax are too often used as a stepping stone | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

    Why is it so normal to leave Ajax for pastures new after one good season?

    Yes, it probably involves lots of money and arguably more stardom, but the Dutch side always bounce back from summer flash sales, while the players they lose half of the time struggle.

    Ajax is the place to be and they’ll prove it with another impressive cameo in the latter stages of the knockout rounds this season.

    Duvan Zapata, Mario Pasalic
    Atalanta have assembled a squad with trophy-winning potential | Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

    Be honest – you hadn’t even heard of them 12 months ago, had you?

    It’s okay, we’re all still getting accustomed to Atalanta’s sudden rise to prominence. It’s not just a European fluke, either. They’re a much more stable and assured side than defending Serie A champions Juventus this season, and could end up winning the Scudetto themselves.

    Diego Pablo 'Cholo' Simeone
    Time must be up for Simeone | Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

    It’s this simple.

    The glory days are gone and the honeymoon period is dead and buried. If Atletico want to capitalise on a gap in the market in both Spain and Europe, they need a refresh.

    They’ve got too comfortable under Simeone and could become the best team in Europe under new management. Don’t envy the person having to do the sacking, though.

    Sergio Busquets
    Barcelona need to move forward without Busquets | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

    It sounds mental, because Busquets has been one of the best midfielders in the world over the past decade, but he’s finished. Done. Finito.

    Rip up his contract or send him on a three-year loan to Turkey, because he’s holding the side back from progressing with a youthful outlook.

    Jerome Boateng
    Bayern are still persevering with a below par and ageing Jerome Boateng | Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

    Bayern Munich in attack operate like a Mercedes-AMG SLS that’s been turbocharged even more, but in defence they’re actually more reminiscent of a 20-year-old Volkswagen Golf.

    Sure, it’s one for the history books and holds a little sentimental value here and there, but it’s like flogging a dead horse at this point. Loads of mileage, no consistency. David Alaba likely leaving creates another problem, too.

    If they don’t address the issue soon, they’ll fall back down the European ladder quicker than they climbed up it.

    Jadon Sancho, Thorgan Hazard, Erling Haaland
    Dortmund will be one of Europe’s strongest sides this season | Lukas Schulze/Getty Images

    Keeping hold of Jadon Sancho was a big enough victory for Dortmund this summer, so to keep hold of Erling Haaland too is a huge boost.

    The players look inspired and they’ve managed to keep together a seriously talented squad. If they can’t crack the Bundesliga, they’ll have to reign supreme in Europe instead.

    They’ll make the final.

    Diatta will stand out for Brugge | KURT DESPLENTER/Getty Images

    There’s not much to say about teams like Brugge, but there’s often a hidden gem waiting to be discovered in there.

    Krepin Diatta is 20 years old and looks like a serious talent. Primarily a right winger, he’ll be key throughout what’s left of their group stage endeavour.

    Remember the name, he’ll be in the Premier League or Bundesliga soon enough.

    It’s so bad that it’s good. | KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/Getty Images

    That stripy kit – we all thought it looked like a fake Crystal Palace shirt when it was launched.

    It’s not that bad though, is it? It’s actually quite nice…

    Ferencvarosi TC v FC Dynamo Kyiv: Group G - UEFA Champions League
    Kiev will prove a side tough to break down | Laszlo Szirtesi/Getty Images

    Juventus are a little bit of a train wreck currently, and Dynamo Kiev will absolutely take advantage of that.

    Don’t expect anything monumental, but they’ll head into the round of 16 ahead of the Old Lady and might even sneak into the quarter finals.

    Ferencvarosi TC v FC Dynamo Kyiv: Group G - UEFA Champions League
    Ferencvaros is now everyone’s favourite Hungarian team by default | Laszlo Szirtesi/Getty Images

    They claimed their first group stage point in 25 years against Kiev, and will be up for it on the big occasion against a falling giant.

    Nothing to lose, all guns blazing, the Hungarian side will snatch a win against Juventus in the group stages.

    Arturo Vidal, Romelu Lukaku
    Inter have a squad with complete balance | Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

    Expect Antonio Conte’s side to be firing on all fours after narrowly missing out on a Scudetto last season.

    The typical mould of the Champions League has fallen away somewhat and teams are breaking back in; Inter’s attack will push them into the final four and cause an upset or two along the way.

    Istanbul Basaksehir v Paris Saint-Germain: Group H - UEFA Champions League
    Istanbul Basaksehir have found themselves in the group of death | Burak Kara/Getty Images

    This one is a bit outlandish, but hot takes only, right?

    Istanbul Basaksehir were only formed in 1990 and won their maiden Turkish Super Lig last season, but a few lavish signings and troublesome owners will find them ceasing to exist in a few seasons.

    Destined for a place in a ‘forgotten clubs’ list.

    Andrea Pirlo
    Pirlo was fighting a losing battle the minute he took the Juventus job | Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

    It isn’t shaping up to be a fun season for Juventus fans.

    Andrea Pirlo has been thrown in far too deep and the board have asked far too much of him. They’ll struggle to retain the Serie A title and they’ll definitely find themselves booted into the Europa League after failing to make the knockouts.

    FC Krasnodar v Chelsea FC: Group E - UEFA Champions League
    Krasnodar will qualify from group E alongside Chelsea | MB Media/Getty Images

    Krasnodar sound like a team perfectly suited for the Europa League round of 32, but we all know that’s Sevilla’s spot for the taking.

    Like John Cena returning at the 2008 Royal Rumble out of nowhere, Krasnodar will pop up in the Champions League round of 16 after a sneaky second place group finish.

    Andreas Pereira
    Pereira will look reborn with the Italian side | Giampiero Sposito/Getty Images

    It might be hard for Manchester United fans to believe, but there’s a good player in Andreas Pereira.

    He’ll provide the creative spark and an edge for Lazio in the group stages and look completely refreshed. With such low expectation, he’ll look completely reborn and remind everyone he’s a more than capable footballer.

    Virgil van Dijk
    Losing Van Dijk will cost the Reds in Europe | Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    In case you hadn’t heard, Liverpool have lost Virgil van Dijk to injury.

    The Dutchman is a key piece of the jigsaw and it’s bound to derail their season. They’ll get through a rather easy group, but a nightmare over two legs in the round of 16 will boot them out in disappointing fashion, despite them wanting to avenge last season’s poor showing.

    Benjamin Pavard, Grzegorz Krychowiak
    Lokomotiv gave Bayern Munich a difficult game | MB Media/Getty Images

    They probably won’t be able to force enough points out of the games they face to sneak into the Champions League knockout stages, but Lokomotiv look tough to beat and will enter the Europa League.

    There’s always one dark horse that makes it surprisingly far in the Europa League, and it’s Lokomotiv’s turn this year. Watch this space.

    Pep Guardiola
    Pep Guardiola’s time at Manchester City must come to an end soon | Alex Caparros/Getty Images

    They don’t come hotter than this.

    We could praise Guardiola’s genius all day, but he’s failed Manchester City. He was the chosen one to bring them European glory and last season was the chance, but he fumbled it.

    The chips are down this season and it feels like the best chance has gone; it’s time to freshen things up. The Citizens need a new man at the helm with fresh motivation.

    Marcus Rashford
    Miracles do happen, and Man Utd might find themselves in line for one this season | Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

    The PE teacher strikes again.

    By no means is Manchester United’s squad good enough to win a Champions League, especially compared to some of the competition, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has tasted this level of European success with the club and knows just how much it means.

    Two huge victories over PSG and RB Leipzig have already shown they could do the impossible with some good fortune, making up for a likely underwhelming domestic campaign.

    Olympique Lyon v Olympique Marseille - Ligue 1
    Florian Thauvin will surprise a few | Xavier Laine/Getty Images

    This could’ve been Andre Villas Boas’ chance to rebuild his reputation, but no.

    Marseille look poor when thrown into a pool of European elites and are off the pace. Florian Thauvin is the opposite however, and will leave the group stages with a £60m price tag over his head. Expect a big move next summer.

    Diogo Jota, Paulinho, Frank Onyeka
    Midtjylland gave Liverpool a tougher game than the Reds anticipated | Pool/Getty Images

    Midtjylland first came to prominence in a Europa League tie against Manchester United in 2016.

    They’ve reached Europe’s premier tournament this season, and while they won’t get far this time round, they’re a side growing in confidence with a bright future.

    If they keep going the way they are, there’s no reason why they can’t find Europa League silverware in the next couple of seasons.

    Marco Rose
    Marco Rose is another bright young manager emerging in Europe | Lars Baron/Getty Images

    Almost beating Real Madrid was no fluke.

    Marco Rose has seriously impressed as head coach since joining from Red Bull Salzburg and will be at a big club in the next three seasons. Guardiola won’t be in Manchester much longer and Rose’s attacking, organised game would be a solid evolution.

    Another season in Germany at most, and then he’ll be at the Etihad. Maybe.

    Lazar Randjelovic
    Oympiacos will surprise a few | Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

    Champions League veterans Olympiacos are a group stage ever-present but typically nothing more.

    It’s different this year, though. The world’s gone mad and teams are capitulating when we least expect; they have an experienced squad and will sneak out of the groups and past the first knockout round.

    Kylian Mbappe
    All that money spent for a Europa League trophy… | Burak Kara/Getty Images

    Last season’s finalists aren’t getting out of the group stages.

    They’ll finally win some European silverware, though, blitzing through the Europa League.

    Felipe Anderson
    Felipe Anderson has become one of football’s forgotten talents | Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

    Porto will also drop into Europe’s B competition, where they’ll likely find their level.

    They won’t reach the summit, but they’ll stay in long enough for Felipe Anderson to put together a Player of the Tournament-worthy highlight reel.

    Zinedine Zidane
    It’s all a bit tense in Madrid these days | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

    Oh boy.

    Yes, you read that correctly. It’s been a nightmare start for Los Blancos with just one point from their opening two fixtures, but it won’t get any easier.

    They haven’t made it past the round of 16 in the last two seasons and will take a further hit when they’re shockingly dumped out of the group stages.

    Julian Nagelsmann
    Nagelsmann has built up an impressive CV thus far | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

    A team on the up, casual fans probably think nothing of RB Leipzig following a ‘fortunate’ semi final last year and subsequent 5-0 thrashing by United this season, but don’t be fooled.

    Leading one of Europe’s most tactically adept sides is young coach Julian Nagelsmann. The 33-year-old has a bright future and will no doubt take over the reigns in Madrid when Zidane departs for a second time at the end of the season, if not earlier.

    Patson Daka
    Daka is set for a bright career in football | Angel Martinez/Getty Images

    90min exclusively revealed that Manchester City are keeping tabs on Salzburg striker Patson Daka, and with their financial muscle, it’s bound to happen.

    If City want him, they’ll likely land him. They need an Aguero replacement, and Daka has the potential to fill the boots.

    Eduardo Camavinga
    The world is already watching the French teenager | Catherine Steenkeste/Getty Images

    The 17-year-old is earning rave reviews from just about every angle, which has ultimately boosted his stock no matter how good he actually is.

    There’s no ceiling to his potential, and the speculation bumps up his price further. A big transfer is coming, and while it might not break the record straight away, he certainly will when he’s a little older.

    Seville v FC Internazionale - UEFA Europa League Final
    Sevilla won the Europa League last season, again. | Pool/Getty Images

    The undisputed champions of the Europa League will surrender the title this season.

    As mentioned earlier, PSG will storm the competition after dropping out of the Champions League.

    Shakhtar will go one further than the group stages this season | SERGEI SUPINSKY/Getty Images

    The Ukrainian side are mainstays of the group stage but will shock the football world and go one further this year, edging past a poor Real Madrid side.

    Knocked out in the round of 16, but a top effort nonetheless.

    Borussia Dortmund v Zenit St. Petersburg: Group F - UEFA Champions League
    Hiring Pochettino would do wonders for Zenit | Pool/Getty Images

    If speculation is correct and former Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino does end up at Zenit, then surely he brings them some European silverware.

    The Champions League would be too big an ask, but the Europa League is an attainable prize within the next couple of years.

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