It was 4 June: a missile from Toby Alderweireld ended in the KRC Genk net during stoppage time and the title was awarded to Antwerp. The metropolitan club had been waiting for the coronation for sixty-six years, which also secured them a ticket to the Champions League play-offs. A victorious double against AEK Athens followed and the Antwerp residents were invited to the Champion’s Ball.
Placed in a group including Shakhtar Donetsk, FC Porto and FC Barcelona, Antwerp will have to do a lot to climb into one of the two qualifying places for the Round of 16, with third place allowing them transfer to the Europa League. To achieve this, the Antwerp club retained its senior players: goalkeeper Jean Butez, captain Toby Alderweireld, the young and talented Arthur Vermeiren and scorer Vincent Janssen.
It remains to be seen whether this will be enough to continue the adventure beyond the group stage. If Shakhtar seems to be the antithesis of Antwerp’s potential, Porto is still an extremely demanding client. And what to say about Barça… Sure, the Catalans no longer display the splendor of a few years ago, but they still have players of the caliber of Robert Lewandowski, Pedri, Gavi or Ilkay Gündogan and their ambitions are not without Are in any doubt. Limit.
However, the Spaniards will face stiff competition if they are to win the Big Years Cup at the famous Wembley Stadium on June 1, 2024. Leading the favorites is defending champion Manchester City. Winners of the last final against Inter Milan four months ago, Kevin De Bruyne’s teammates are enjoying a dream season in which they won the Champions League as well as the Championship and FA Cup. If the Mancunians let players like Mahrez or Gundogan go, they did not skimp on spending, especially attracting Josco Guardiol (€90 million) or our compatriot Jeremy Doku, bought at Stade Rennais for €60 million Was.
Bayern Munich, as always, will be a big customer. Especially when the Bavarians can now count on serial English scorer Harry Kane, while Thibaut Courtois’s Real Madrid, fourteen-time winners, are still candidates for the coronation. PSG, which sold Neymar but strengthened itself with Ousmane Dembele and Randal Kolo Muani, hopes to end the curse that causes it to always fail in this competition, like Arsenal, which recently Coming into color again and where we find a certain Leandro Trossard.
Finally on the Belgian side, we will be keeping a close eye on the performances of Lois Openda at Leipzig, Dodi Lueckbacio at Seville, veterans Axel Witsel (Atletico) and Dries Mertens (Galatasaray) as well as PSV forwards Yorbe Vertesan and Johan Bakayoko .
This article appeared in Le Télépro on 14/9/2023