Dark Horses Rising
Crowned champion of Italy 9 times, over 20 domestic cups, several personal accolades, and the World Cup trophy. However, for one man, that is not quite enough. Gianluigi Buffon has had an illustrious career but having been Europe’s best goal goalkeeper for a generation, it feels there is a massive gap in his honors list. That is the Champions League winners medal. Turning 41 this month, will Gianluigi Buffon be able to capture the European title with Paris Saint-Germain?
Many had anticipated that when Buffon was sent off in Juventus’ quarter final match with Real Madrid last year, we all thought that was going to be the end for the Italian legend on Europe’s biggest stage. However, he has joined PSG who have assembled their greatest ever squad, and there is a belief in Paris that this is going to their year when they finally conquer Europe. The menacing attacking force of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Edison Cavani, with creative midfielders such as Di Maria and Marco Verratti, and the defensive spine of Thiago Silva and Marquinhos, has set them up to be one of the favourites.
Despite PSG being an incredibly strong outfit, questions will still be asked of them, and many critics will still remain having those ruling doubts. In recent seasons, PSG have always fell short to the likes of Barcelona, and Real Madrid. The club have somewhat underperformed as they haven’t even reached the semi-finals, so going as far as winning it may be one step too far. PSG have enough firepower to hurt anyone, but as evident in their match against Liverpool earlier in the season, they can be too exposed and open sometimes, and that can hurt a team’s chances in the latter stages of the tournament.
Gianluigi Buffon is a great edition to their team, and the whole of Europe have respect for the man, as he is one of the ‘good guys’ of football. However, whilst PSG are a fantastic team, they still have to get past the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona and, perhaps their biggest threat, Buffon’s old team Juventus. Could they meet in the dream final in May 2019?
With the league title almost already won, PSG will shift their attention to the Champions League that returns in February. The side were drawn against Manchester United, who have been rejuvenated by their manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in recent weeks, but even the most ardent Manchester United fan will know that they will be the underdogs in that fixture. That is one of the many great fixtures as the round of 16 matches commence soon. In other matches, we see Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool take on Bayern Munich, Tottenham Hotspur face Borussia Dortmund and Atletico Madrid square off with Juventus.
CLASH OF THE TITANS
Schalke 04 vs Manchester City
Atletico Madrid vs Juventus
Manchester United vs PSG
Tottenham Hotspur vs Borussia Dortmund
Lyon vs Barcelona
Roma vs Porto
Ajax vs Real Madrid
Liverpool vs Bayern Munich