Home Sports The ‘underdogs’ of Europe: unexpected teams that aim to play in the next Champions League

The ‘underdogs’ of Europe: unexpected teams that aim to play in the next Champions League

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The ‘underdogs’ of Europe: unexpected teams that aim to play in the next Champions League

Nnew format, new teams? The UEFA Champions League changes structure starting next season. It will stop being the usual group stage plus the knockout stage and will become a league with 36 teamswith four blocks of nine teams and alternating matchups, some at home and others away.

In its ‘inaugural’ year, there may be surprise teams that, thanks to their great seasons in domestic competition, get their ticket to the top European competition. The most curious thing is that, of the five major leagues, there can be one from each league: Girona, Aston Villa, Bolonia, Stuttgart and Stade Brestois.

Girona

The story can be confirmed for the Girona. Michel’s men are having an exceptional season, surprising everyone and everyone with a 2nd place finish that they still maintain despite having already played 28 league games. Are 62 points, their historical record in the highest domestic competition, where they have only been four seasons. The feat is further evidenced by his recent past in Spanish football: between the 19/20 and 21/22 seasons they were in Second.

Tsygankov celebrates a goal against Rayo Vallecano

Tsygankov celebrates a goal against Rayo Vallecano

The merit of the Giron set is explained by multiple factors. The football evolution led by Mchel has led the team to be a scoring machine: second highest scoring team in LaLiga, with 59, only behind Real Madrid -it has 60-. Names like Savinho, Dovbyk or Ivan Martin They have definitively emerged in a group where the attractive and dynamic style is translating into positive results.

The attack, in addition to going through them, also has two active bullets on the lanes: Yan Couto and Miguel Gutirrez. The Brazilian has seven assists in LaLiga, while the Real Madrid youth player has six in all competitions, both becoming fundamental in a system favored by the football that the team articulates.

Stadium

Yan Couto and Miguel Gutirrez LaLiga 2023/24 Statistics

Mchel, the architect of this Girona, no longer has anything else between his eyebrows: play the next Champions League. Their distance from Athletic Club is nine points, with 30 points left to play, and their calendar includes visits such as the Cvitas, the Coliseum or Mestalla, while they host Betis, Bara or Cdiz in Montilivi, among others. The Champions League is possible.

Aston Villa

In the Premier League, there is more and more competition. Last season it was Newcastle who crept into the upper echelons of English football to compete in the Champions League. This course, Aston Villa could be the guest team to the party. The ‘villains’, with different ambitions after the financial investment of Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens, the club’s owners, have taken giant steps, from being in the Championship to fighting for European positions, like the last two years.

lex Moreno, celebrating a tanto at Fulham

At the moment there are 4, now far from the fight for the Premier title that, for several days, was present in Villa Park. The last heavy defeat against Tottenham (0-4) has put that fourth place in danger, but the possibility of Giving England the extra place could make them finish 5th It also serves to enter the Champions League.

However, their 23/24 season is being excellent. Summer additions of the likes of Diaby, Pau Torres or Tielemans They gave another leap to a squad that already had Douglas Luiz, Kamara, Watkins and Emery. The latter has transformed Aston Villa, removing it from the 17th position in which it was when the Basque reached put him in the Conference last year and put him in the Champions zone this season.

We remain fourth, but we lost a very good opportunity

Unai Emery, after losing 0-4 against Tottenham

The comfortable distance it maintains with Manchester United, the first team that did not qualify for the Champions League, for now does not jeopardize his presence in a competition in which he has not participated for more than 40 years. Even so, he must visit stadiums like the Emirates or the Etihad before the end of the season, very complicated outings that will decide the course of the ‘villain’ team for the next campaign.

Bologna

Thiago Motta and his Bologna are on their way to being a revelation, if they are not already one. The Italian team has ‘sneaked’ among the greats of Italy and, with 10 games to go, they have not lowered the bar. There are 4 with 51 points, seven behind Juventus, which is third and three above Roma, one of the Rossobl’s direct rivals for that fourth place. Furthermore, Italy is the provisional leader to take one of the two extra places in the next Champions League, so fifth place could also give access to the new continental competition.

Ferguson and Zirkzee celebrate a Bologna goal

Ferguson and Zirkzee celebrate a Bologna goal

The former Barcelona, ‚Äč‚ÄčInter and PSG player, among others, has revolutionized a young squad, squeezing all their potential to reach heights that, since Renato Dall’Ara, were considered practically unattainable. His attractive football on an offensive level and his pragmatism in even matches have made Bologna a difficult rival to beat in any context.

The last defeat against Inter, the outstanding leader of the Italian championship, stopped a tremendous streak of winning six consecutive league games, attacking fields such as the Olympic Stadium in Rome or the Gewiss Stadium. It is no longer just the level they offer in the group, but also the individualities they have in many areas of the field.

The most outstanding of that crop of young people that is shining in Bologna is Joshua Zirkzee. The Bayern youth player is being the team’s offensive leader, taking advantage of his speed and intelligence in three quarters to define games. He has 11 goals in Serie A. Others like Sam Beukema and Posch from defense, or Lewis Ferguson and Freuler from the middle, are helping Bologna’s spectacular progression, which can return to continental football more than 20 years later.

Stuttgart

With permission from Bayer Leverkusen, Stuttgart is the revelation of the Bundesliga. The team from southern Germany has gone from being saved last season in the relegation playoff against Hamburg to being a clear candidate to play in the next Champions League. There have been few changes as radical as Stuttgart’s from one season to the next, and Hoeness is largely to blame for that.

Guirassy se

Guirassy points after scoring a goal

The German coach arrived urgently at the German team to save an agonizing situation. I did it. The market carried out this summer was conservative, with Guirassy being the most expensive signing, costing 9 million euros. Others like Undav, Stiller and Nbel They arrived at the MHPArena Stuttgart to improve the team’s situation. And boy have they improved it.

La dupla Guirassy-Undav In attack they have broken the Bundesliga. Between the French and the German-Turkish they have signed 35 goals in domestic competition, 61% of the team’s goals. They both arrived last summer, and their partnership is already one of the best in Europe: It is the second that has scored the most goals (35), behind the duo Kane and San, from Bayern (38).

Europe’s top scoring doubles

  1. Bayern: Kane (30) + San (8) = 38 goals
  2. Stuttgart: GUIRASSY (21) + UNDAV (14) = 35 GOALS
  3. Between: Lautaro (23) + Thuram (10) = 33 goals
  4. Manchester City: Haaland (18) + Foden (11) = 29 goals
  5. PSG: Mbapp (21) + Kolo Muani (6) = 27 goals

They have an advantage of six points with Dortmund, fourth placed, and seven with Leipzig, the first team out of the Champions League positions. They have to receive Bayern and visit Leverkusen and Dortmund, but the cushion they maintain can be used to step into the maximum European competition 15 soonin which he was eliminated in the round of 16 by Guardiola’s Bara.

Brest Stadium

Of revelations… this is surely the most unexpected. Stade Brestois, or Brest, is signing one of the greatest feats of French and European football. Just five years ago they were in Ligue 2, and their four previous campaigns in Ligue 1 moved around the middle zone: 14, 17, 14 and 11.

Mahdi Camara celebrates a goal

Mahdi Camara celebrates a goal

Rich Roy’s miracle be remembered, if he finally ends up in European positions, like that league achieved by the Montpellier In the 2011/12 season, that of Lille in 2020/21 or the classification of the Lens to Champions last year. It is impossible to do more with a team designed to travel through the middle zone. And he has it 10 behind PSGleader of the championship.

The resurrection of footballers like Lees-Melou, Kenny Lala or Steve Mouni has been mixed with the emergence of players like Del Castillo, Mahdi Camara or Bradley Locko, and their different and effective football has put them in the eye of the European scene: 2 with 46 points, having tied at the Parc des Princes or having beaten Marseille or Lyon.

The calendar ahead is not easy: visit the Roazhon Park and receive Lille or Monaco, among others, at the Francis-Le Bl. The feat is already a reality, but A ticket to the Champions League would be the greatest historical milestone for a club that has never entered European competition in its 73 years of history..



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