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It has been 2 weeks into 2018, but the new year promises to be an eventful year for football.
FIFA World Cup
The main highlight on the football calendar this year will be the 21st edition of the FIFA World Cup hosted by Russia.
The tournament kicks off on the 14th of June 2018 in Moscow when the hosts Russia take on Saudi Arabia who will be making first appearance at the biggest football tournament since 2006.
Eyes will be on the big names to deliver, Messi has probably his final chance to win a major trophy at international level to stamp his name as the greatest player to ever grace the football pitch,the same applies for his Portuguese counterpart Cristiano Ronaldo.
Pressure will be on obvious favourites to win Brazil who have incredibly transformed in the past 3 years, Spain and France who both have great depths of talent in their squads, and world champions Germany.
What’s interesting and special about this year’s edition is there is no certain “group of death” all groups are balanced and open,the underdogs stand a chance and we could witness a large considerable number of upsets. The month long football spectacle will start from June 14 to July 15, 2018.
UEFA Champions League
The Champions League will continue in February with some mouthwatering clashes. The last 16 knockout round sees off a couple of big games in a series of first class bouts, here are some of the games.
Barcelona vs Chelsea
Spanish giants Barcelona will square up with English champions Chelsea in a 2012 Champions League semi-final re-match.
Though both teams have the tactical balance, Barca are obvious favourites to go through however Chelsea have the potency to beat any team on their day and the last time these giants met Chelsea came out victorious thanks to the away goal rule.
Real Madrid vs Paris Saint-Germain
PSG’s front attacking line have the capability of putting any team to the sword and it will be difficult to stop the Neymar-Mbappe combination.
The current best team in the world Real Madrid on the other hand have world class players and can turn up against any one and their talisman Ronaldo always delivers in big moments.
Certainly not a game to be missed.
Juventus vs Tottenham
Juventus skipper Buffon is still having his eyes on the only trophy he hasn’t won in his groovy career, but to even think of reaching the quarter finals he and his team will have to go through the stubborn Tottenham Hotspur.
The London-based club surprised a lot of people by beating Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund to finish the group of death as winners. The game could go either way.
Other games include Manchester City against FC Basel, Manchester United vs Sevilla, Liverpool vs FC Porto, AS Roma vs Shakhtar Donetsk while Bayern Munich take on Besiktas. The last time the Champions League was won by a non-Spanish side was in 2013, it is yet to be seen if the Spanish dominance continues at European level or not.
UEFA Europa League
The Europa League is set to be interesting, unlike in the past years the “losers cup” as dubbed by many before, features a couple of big teams as opposed to the past.
Some of the top teams include Borussia Dortmund, Arsenal, AC Milan, 2016 Champions League runner-ups Atletico Madrid and Napoli amongst others. This year’s edition promises better competition and excitement.
Headliners of the continent this season Manchester City and Barcelona are yet to taste a defeat in their respective leagues this season with the former leading the English Premier League with 62 points in 22 games, while the latter is leading the Spanish La Liga table with 48 points out of 18 games played.
Both teams who have almost similar style of play are best players in Europe at the moment, it will be seen if they continue their great runs this year and possibly completing domestic competition sweep including finishing the league unbeaten like the Invincibles.
Have a productive and great 2018 everyone.
Written by Bonno Macheng
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