Sunday August 9, 2020 ((rezonodwes.com)) – No Ballon d'Or gala in 2020? Never mind! Soccer stars hope to shine in the spotlight of the Champions League, whose final tournament kicks off on Wednesday. Without Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi will obviously attract flashes, but others will seek the light.
– The superstar: Messi –
Lisbon will be deprived of its idol. Ronaldo was eliminated on Friday with Juventus Turin, and since Luka Modric was also eliminated with Real Madrid, Lionel Messi will be the only Ballon d'Or present in this “Final 8” from August 12 to 23.
But the Argentinian, crowned with a seventh title from Pichichi (Spain's top scorer), gets there with more pressure, as Barcelona's failed season forced the Catalans to perform well in C1.
” We will have to change in depth if we want to fight for the + Champions + “, had fulminated the six-fold Golden Ball in July, aware that only the” Cup with big ears “, more raised by Barça since 2015 , would make you forget these last months of disappointments and controversies.
Sparkling Saturday during the 8th return against Naples, “La Pulga” again appeared lonely in the Catalan attack. As is often the case this season, he will have to multiply.
– The goleador: Lewandowski –
He is the leader of Bayern Munich perceived as the big favorite of the event. The Pole Robert Lewandowski continues to panic the counters at the forefront of the Bavarian attack, at least as well in the European Cup as on the national level.
Author of 13 goals in 8 matches of the Champions League, and involved in the seven goals scored by his club against Chelsea in the eighth (four assists, three goals), “Lewy” prances at the top of the scorers classification of the competition and could console himself with this trophy, failing to have lifted the one of the European Golden Shoe rewarding the top scorer of the five major championships (returned to Ciro Immobile of Lazio Rome). But it is above all the dream of a triplet Cup-Championship-Champions League with Bayern that drives the 31-year-old scorer.
– The hoped-for duo: Neymar-Mbappé –
Le Paris SG, in desperate quest for a Champions League title, will release the armada. This time, Neymar is very present and operational: the Brazilian has even had long weeks of preparation, with Ligue 1 not resuming.
His association with Kylian Mbappé promised sparks, but the Frenchman injured his ankle in late July, starting a race against time to return in time for the quarter-finals.
With a seemingly clear picture until the final, the two Parisian stars have probably never been so close to offering their leaders and supporters their great coronation. On condition that the curse that follows Paris in C1 does not stop the tournament of this flamboyant duo.
– The wall: Oblak –
In the summer heat of the Lisbon summer, Jan Oblak will be responsible for cooling the ardor of rival gunners. The former Benfica goalkeeper, one of the best goalkeepers in Europe, is the security asset of Atlético Madrid and their coach Diego Simeone.
The Slovenian goalkeeper (27) has a lot to do with the game. incredible qualification of the “Colchoneros” for the quarter-finals at the expense of Liverpool, defending title holder at Anfield in March in the second leg (3-2 ap). And he approaches with appetite the quarter against Leipzig: “We are ready for this new challenge”, he warned Saturday.
– The artist: De Bruyne –
The decisive passer par excellence . Author of twenty “caviars” in the Premier League this season, Thierry Henry's record equaled, Kevin De Bruyne arrives in Lisbon in full confidence with Manchester City.
“This season we are missing a lot of goals, otherwise Kevin De Bruyne would have 30 assists. He's so good, ”his partner Gabriel Jesus recently complimented.
For the Belgian and the Mancunian club, Real Madrid scorers from Zinédine Zidane in the eighth, the mission mode is engaged: City has been dreaming of a first coronation in C1 for many months.
– The rank-and-file: Schick, Depay, Gomez… –
We weren't expecting them so high, but they hold high for the stars. In Leipzig, which star striker Timo Werner left for Chelsea even before the end of C1, hopes rest in particular on the Czech Patrik Schick and the Dane Yussuf Poulsen.
In Lyon, the Dutchman Memphis Depay will want to realize his immense ambition to attract the attention of major European teams, while the Argentinian “Papu” Gomez, the captain of Atalanta, will have the heavy task of transposing on the European level the fantastic Bergamasque offensive animation, which capsized Italy this season.
ama / jed / dep
© Agence France-Presse