The Champions League is the richest club competition in the world, paying out more than $1.5 billion to participating teams. But the Champions League prize money distribution is kinda funky given the amount of cash being tossed around. Leicester City, which reached the quarterfinals, was paid more than Real Madrid, which won the whole dadgum thing.
Whisper it. Napoli could be champions. It could be their year. Finally, after half a decade of Juventus dominance in Serie A, a team has emerged that could legitimately challenge for the title. Not just because Juve has stumbled, but because Napoli is a legitimately fantastic team. Along with Manchester City, Maurizio Sarri’s men are playing the best football in the world right now. Could it be enough to take them to the top?
It’s time to talk about Paulo Dybala. Actually, it was probably time to talk about Dybala two months ago, when he was rightly titillating the interest of the Barcelona board, possibly plugging a recently-emerged Neymar-sized hole in their starting XI. But even since then, Dybala has gone to a whole new level. Is it time to start talking about Dybala as being one of the very best in the world?
There’s an immediate hot take available here that I just can’t commit myself to: the departure of Neymar from Barcelona has had an uplifting effect on 33-year-old midfielder Andres Iniesta, and El Ilusionista is about to enjoy the consummate season because of a mixture of peak footballing intelligence and a proverbial unchaining on the left-hand side of Barca’s midfield.
Juventus arrived at the 2016-17 Champions League Final having surrendered only three goals in 12 matches. Thanks in large part to Lionel Messi, that total was matched in the 2017-18 edition of the competition after only one match, or 69 minutes to be precise.
Messi scored a fantastic brace and Ivan Rakitic added one of his own as Barcelona throttled an under-strength Juventus 3-0 at the Camp Nou to begin Champions League group play.
Serie A was struck by storms this weekend. While the United States was dealing with the horrors of the hurricanes, areas such as Livorno experienced their own extreme weather and loss of life. Miraculously, all but one match took place.
There were surprises. AC Milan faced its first real challenge and failed spectacularly. Fiorentina’s new-look side seemed to click and ran out 5-0 winners against a hapless Verona team. There were also more run-of-the-mill fixtures. Juventus won. Napoli won. Inter won. Fairly standard, really.