• Milton Ceita Da Costa

ToroFoot's 7-League Predictions



Now that the transfer window has mostly shut, we feel more comfortable making our predictions for the season. We have selected few surprises but we would be shocked if this bizarre, unprecedented year didn’t serve up some unexpected results. The teams with the most success will be the ones with the biggest and deepest squads, who achieve a maximum of points in the beginning, do not run out of gas towards the end, have less continental commitments, handle injury layoffs the best, rotate appropriately and, simply, the ones with the most luck. This is, of course, nothing new in football, but this year these factors will have more weight than ever before.

Basically, expect the unexpected (although we have honestly played it safe in most of our predictions).


(League winners ranked from order of most likely to least likely)



Ligue 1

PSG

They have started off with no little difficulty— two defeats in the first six Ligue 1 games, the debacle at Marseille, the public discord between Thomas Tuchel and Leonardo, the COVID-19 issues and so on. It makes for an inauspicious beginning to the new season. However, PSG remain the best team in France and importantly the most powerful. Hopefully, Marseille, Rennes and Lille can make it fun but the former will not have the necessary consistency and the other two, saddled with European commitments (an exciting Champions League campaign for Rennes and the Europa League for Lille) likely do not have the squads to remain competitive on multiple fronts.



Bundesliga

Bayern Munich

As much as we might want to see someone else, Bayern is still the best team in Germany and one of the best teams in Europe. Although perhaps not the targets they wished, they desperately added depth across the board and the starting line up remains excellent. This team is exciting to watch, efficient and devastating. The loss to Hoffenheim may have just served to recalibrate the club and the players. They’ve bought well enough, adding to a squad that was already better than the rest. Bayern Munich wins again. (Although we hope Leipzig might be able to pull one out of the hat…)



Eredivisie

Ajax Amsterdam

We expect Ajax to win it for the third year in a row, although PSV Eindhoven, Feyenoord and AZ Alkmaar will make it interesting. Erik ten Hag is will entrenched and though Ajax consistently sells its best players, they also consistently produce new ones. André Onana was kept, as was Nicolás Tagliafico. Captain and false nine extraordinaire Dusan Tadic will continue to be devastating and they have youth and ability in Edson Álvarez, Lisandro Martínez, Noussair Mazraoui, David Neres, Lassina Traoré and the very highly-rated Ryan Gravenberch to go along with more accomplished stars such as Quincy Promes, Davy Klaassen and the impressively aged Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.



Premier League

Liverpool

Despite a ridiculously embarrassing defeat to Aston Villa, the Reds are still the best and most complete team in the league. The loss may even refocus them (or so desperate fans hope). They added midfield maestro, Thiago Alcântara and Premier League-proven weapon Diogo Jota, not to mention added a solution in the problem area of backup leftback in the form of Kostas Tsimíkas. Manchester City is still a powerhouse but it is currently running on fumes ; they will be more dangerous in Europe. Leicester City, Everton (with how they have started, we have to mention them), rejuvenated Tottenham and Arsenal will not have enough to snatch the title away for varying reasons, the main ones being squad depth, inconsistency and inexperience.

The Reds are now the hunted ; this may not push them to new, priorly unreached levels but they’ll have enough to take the Premier League title for the second time running.



For these last three, we have placed a great deal of belief in the coaches. If any other coach were leading these particular teams, their chances would be much lower.

Serie A

Inter Milan

Our first deviation from the expected. This choice is very much attached to Antonio Conte. A serial winner and demanding leader, he didn’t win the title in his first year, had (has) very public problems with the board and is facing a team that rearmed with players such as Weston McKennie, Federico Chiesa, Arthur and Dejan Kulusevski. Nonetheless, we are taking Conte and Nerazzuri. Conte and Inter have Juventus very firmly in their sights. Also, in a Champions League group with the ever-present Shakhtar Donetsk, a fun Borussia Mönchengladbach (Marcus Thuram!) and, of course, Real Madrid there is a chance Inter do not advance to the next round. As we mentioned earlier, this could be a determining factor in this year’s title races. Aleksander Kolarvo and Arturo Vidal have made them stronger, and crucially have transformed Inter into even more of an Antonio Conte team, but Achraf Hakimi is the grand prize. He will evolve this team and take them further.

Andrea Pirlo, first time manager, is unproven and after several titles on the trot and the ultimate goal of the Champions League having still eluded them, we expect Juventus to focus on Europe yet again but this time miss out on the Serie A title for the first time in ten years.



Liga NOS

Benfica

We’re not betting against Jorge Jesus. It’s not happening and certainly not with the additions Benfica have made. Jesus’ formerly icy relationship with Benfica having thawed, the lion-maned maestro is back in command after having wowed in Brazil with Flamengo. The sale of Rúben Dias has been offset, in quantity if not in quality. The Lisbon club has heavily reinforced (to name a few : Éverton, Darwin Núñez, Jan Vertonghen, Jean-Clair Todibo, Pedrinho and Nicolás Otamendi) and they are just two years removed from winning the league and last year were not so far off the top that a resurgence is improbable. Make no mistake about it though, Jorge Jesus, an almost rockstar-like figure in Portugal, was the signing of the Iberian country’s transfer market (and the media there treated it as such). Their closest rival will be FC Porto (sorry SC Braga and SC Sporting) but the Águias will soar high once again.



LaLiga

Atlético Madrid

This prediction, admittedly, has no little sentiment. Diego Simeone is a fantastic manager. Atlético Madrid is a great club but hasn’t won the league since 2014, the title instead being monopolized by FC Barcelona (4x) and Real Madrid (2x). An Atlético win would be exciting and quite poetic. Cristiano Ronaldo— Real’s face for most of a decade and Atlético’s personal torturer— has left, Lionel Messi— Barcelona’s greatest hero— will likely follow, Luís Suárez was shown the door by Los Culés and joined Los Colchoneros and has vengeance on the mind. João Félix is the future of the league and Simeone has suggested before that he is willing to change his tactical ways. This remains to be seen but it could be fascinating to witness. Thomas Partey is certainly a loss, more so than Álvaro Morata (except financially) but Lucas Torreira will be a tactically adept and culturally excellent addition.


For non-sentimental reasons, however, there is much to like about Atlético’s chances compared to prior seasons : Barcelona is in disarray and weaker than before with an unhappy talisman and a new, divisive coach. Real Madrid didn’t spend money to bring anyone in (although their loan army helped) and their balance across the pitch has yet to be found. Goals come mainly from Karim Benzema and Sergio Ramos, Thibaut Courtois routinely puts in man of the match performances and Ferland Mendy is dangerous from leftback but with Eden Hazard constantly injured, that left wing spot has yet to be taken and the midfield configuration is still a work in progress (but you wouldn’t bet against Zinedine Zidane finding the solution). Atlético meanwhile have poached a still dangerous Suárez, Félix is more settled in the league, have a settled coach and core group of players and a less cumbersome path to the title, with more margin for error than before (in relation to their rivals) and a clear goal : LaLiga.

Simply, there is a great deal of pressure on Atlético this year to succeed. We’ll go out on a slight limb and say they will get things done.



Winners : Paris Saint-Germain, FC Bayern München, AFC Ajax, Liverpool FC, FC Internazionale Milano, SL Benfica, Atlético de Madrid

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