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No Balloon d’Or 2020 gala? Forget it! Football stars hope to shine in the spotlight in the Champions League, whose last tournament starts on Wednesday. Without Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi will obviously attract lightning, but others are looking for the light.
– The superstar: Messi –
Lisbon will be deprived of its idol. Ronaldo was eliminated on Friday by Juventus Turin, and since Luka Modric was also eliminated by Real Madrid, Lionel Messi will be the only Ballon d’Or present during this “Final 8” from 12 to 23 August.
But the Argentine, crowned with a seventh title from Pichichi (Spain’s top scorer), comes 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 + Champions +”, had fulminated the six-time Golden Ball in July, aware that only the “Cup with big ears”, more commissioned by Barça since 2015, would make you forget the last months of disappointments and controversies.
Sparkling Saturday during the eighth return against Napoli, “La Pulga” once again seemed alone in the Catalan attack. So often this season it has to multiply.
Leading scorer: Lewandowski –
He is the head of Bayern Munich’s gondola, which is perceived as the event’s big favorite. Pole Robert Lewandowski continues to panic counters ahead of the Bavarian attack, at least as well in the European Cup as at national level.
Writer of 13 goals in 8 Champions League matches, and involved in the seven goals his club scored against Chelsea in the eighth (four assists, three goals), “Lewy” trains at the top of the competition classification of the competition and was able to comfort himself with this trophy, without having lifted that of the European gold shoe that rewards the top scorers in the five major championships (returned to Ciro Immobile in Lazio Rome). But it is above all the dream of a triple Cup-Championship-Champions League with Bayern that drives the 31-year-old point.
– It jumped after the duo: Neymar-Mbappé –
Paris SG, in desperate pursuit of a Champions League title, will release the armada. This time, Neymar is present and operational: the Brazilian has even had long weeks of preparation, Ligue 1 has not resumed.
His association with Kylian Mbappé promised sparks, but the Frenchman injured his ankle at the end of July and started a race against time to get back in time for the quarterfinals.
With a table a priori ready for the final, the two Parisian stars have probably never been so close to offering their leaders and supporters their great coronation. Provided that the curse that follows Paris in C1 does not stop the tournament for this flamboyant duo.
– The wall: Oblak –
In the summer heat of Lisbon summer, Jan Oblak will be responsible for cooling the rivalry of the rival guns. The former Benfica goalkeeper, one of the best goalkeepers in Europe, is the security asset for Atlético Madrid and its coach Diego Simeone.
The Slovenian goalkeeper (27) has a lot to do with the incredible qualification of “Colchoneros” for the quarter-finals at the expense of Liverpool, who will defend the defending champions at Anfield in March in the second stage (3-2 ap). And he is approaching the quarter against Leipzig with an appetite: “We are ready for this new challenge”, he warned on Saturday.
– The artist: De Bruyne –
The crucial passer par excellence. Author of twenty “caviars” in the Premier League this season, Thierry Henry’s record equaled, Kevin De Bruyne arrives in Lisbon with full confidence in Manchester City.
“This season we are missing many goals, otherwise Kevin De Bruyne would have 30 assists. He is so good,” his partner Gabriel Jesus added to him recently.
For the Belgian and Mancunian club, Real Madrid scorer from Zinédine Zidane on the eighth, the mission situation is committed: City have dreamed of a first coronation in C1 for many months.
– The one without rank: Schick, Depay, Gomez … –
We did not expect them so high, but they stick to the stars. In Leipzig, where star striker Timo Werner left Chelsea even before the end of C1, it is especially hoped for the Czech Patrik Schick and the Dane Yussuf Poulsen.
In Lyon, the Dutchman Memphis Depay will want to realize his enormous ambition to attract the attention of major European teams, while the Argentine “Papu” Gomez, the captain of Atalanta, will have the heavy load to incorporate on the pitch in Europe the fantastic Bergamasque offensive animation, who hijacked Italy this season.
© 2020 AFP