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Most yellow playing cards, prime scorers, relegation and extra

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The 2022-23 European soccer season will quickly start, with groups nonetheless fine-tuning their squads throughout an thrilling switch window. From the two-horse race within the Premier League, a brand new attacking rivalry in El Clasico to the French champions, Paris Saint-Germain, on the lookout for European glory, our insiders share their picks and predictions throughout Europe’s Huge 5 leagues.

Which participant will win the Golden Boot? Which workforce will likely be topped champions of Europe? Who will rack up probably the most yellow playing cards?

ESPN FC writers Rob Dawson, Gab Marcotti, Constantin Eckner, Julien Laurens and Alex Kirkland make their forecasts for the upcoming season.

LaLiga

Prime 4

Barcelona’s summer season switch window has been ominously successful, strengthening the workforce in each key space. Xavi’s first season as coach was promising, and now he has the instruments at his disposal to take Barca again to the highest. Real Madrid will not be far-off, however a repeat of final yr’s near-perfect season feels unrealistic. Atletico Madrid ought to be extra constant this time round — particularly if Antoine Griezmann finds his kind – and Villarreal have sufficient high quality to take fourth, with out the distraction of Champions League soccer this time.

1st place: Barcelona
2nd place: Actual Madrid
third place: Atletico Madrid
4th place: Villarreal

Prime scorer

Robert Lewandowski. Ultimately, some severe competitors for Karim Benzema! Actual Madrid’s captain prime scored in LaLiga final yr with 27 targets, 9 greater than closest rival Iago Aspas, however that is a league tally Lewandowski has topped in six of his final seven seasons at Bayern Munich. Benzema will not hand over his crown and not using a battle, and their rivalry will likely be lots of enjoyable to observe: not fairly classic Messi vs. Ronaldo stage, however not far off.

Relegation

Cadiz, Real Valladolid, Almeria. Cadiz solely survived by a single level final season — after an unbelievable escape on the ultimate day — they usually have not made any vital enhancements to the squad this summer season. Of the promoted sides, Girona ought to rating sufficient targets to remain up after including Taty Castellanos to an assault led by Cristhian Stuani, however Actual Valladolid look prone to wrestle. Almeria have been energetic available in the market but when they begin poorly, supervisor Rubi will come below rapid strain.

Greatest goalkeeper

Thibaut Courtois. Sevilla’s Bono received Spain’s Zamora trophy for the goalkeeper with the bottom goals-to-games ratio final season, however there isn’t any query that Courtois was the very best keeper within the nation. His Champions League closing masterclass got here as no shock to these of us who’d watched him carry out miracles all yr. Actual Madrid’s defence ought to enhance with the incorporation of Antonio Rudiger, too.

Most yellow playing cards

The 2 dirtiest groups in LaLiga final season had been Valencia — then coached by Jose Bordalas — and his earlier facet, Getafe. Whereas Bordalas is now gone, his substitute at Mestalla Stadium, Gennaro Gattuso, has the same win-at-all-costs mentality. If we will choose one participant although, let’s go for Getafe’s Urugayan full-back Damian Suarez, who has been one in all LaLiga’s most comically satisfying hard-men for years now.

Champions League winner

Similar to final yr, it is arduous to look past the 2 greatest groups within the Premier League and Europe: Liverpool and Manchester City. Metropolis’s continued skill to choke within the latter phases of this competitors is inexplicable given their high quality and depth, if now not stunning; Liverpool will really feel they had been the higher facet in defeat to Real Madrid in last season’s final. They’ve the expertise, and the coach in Jurgen Klopp, to go one step additional this time. — Kirkland

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2:18

Julien Laurens explains why proper now he has Chelsea ending sixth within the Premier League desk.

Premier League

Prime 4

It is arduous to see both Manchester Metropolis or Liverpool dropping out of the highest 4 which leaves two spots for Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal, Manchester United and, probably, Newcastle. Tottenham have spent properly this summer season and have had the good thing about a full preseason below Antonio Conte, and Chelsea nonetheless look robust regardless of something of a chaotic off-season. Arsenal and Man United will run them shut, however Spurs and Chelsea will make up the highest 4 alongside Man Metropolis and Liverpool.

1st place: Manchester Metropolis
2nd place: Liverpool
third place: Spurs
4th place: Chelsea

Prime scorer

Harry Kane. He is a confirmed Premier League goalscorer and Conte is a grasp at getting the very best out of his centre forwards. Tottenham ought to have a superb season, which suggests loads of possibilities for Kane. The one concern will likely be whether or not or not he can keep match and the way a lot the World Cup in Qatar takes out of him forward of the second half of the season.

Relegation

Brentford, Bournemouth, Fulham. Brentford went via a poor spell final season when it appeared like they could get dragged into the relegation scrap, they usually’ve misplaced Christian Eriksen to Man United. As for Bournemouth and Fulham, it is all the time troublesome for newly-promoted sides and as issues stand, their summer season recruitment does not look ok to maintain them up.

Greatest goalkeeper

Man Metropolis and Liverpool are each thrilling attacking groups however they’re additionally superb defensively — primarily as a result of opposition groups rarely have the ball. It means Brazilians Ederson and Alisson are the 2 prime candidates for the Golden Glove and with Metropolis set to be with out centre-back Aymeric Laporte till a minimum of September, Alisson appears to be like a superb guess to assert the title.

Most yellow playing cards

Granit Xhaka. At 29 years previous, the Switzerland midfielder is not going to vary the best way he performs now. Whether or not Mikel Arteta desires him to or not, he is nonetheless going to fly into tackles and get on the improper facet of referees. Solely three gamers had extra bookings than Xhaka final season and he is a superb shout to prime the record this time round.

Champions League winner

Manchester Metropolis. Pep Guardiola has bought Man Metropolis usually reaching the latter phases of the Champions League and they’ll recover from the road sooner reasonably than later. They’re too good a workforce to not. Loads will depend upon how rapidly Erling Haaland settles and whether or not he can affect the most important video games at such a younger age, however all of the elements are there for a primary Champions League triumph. — Dawson

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2:07

Arne Friedrich explains why Bayern Munich is hopeful that Sadio Mane can change a few of Robert Lewandowski’s manufacturing.

Bundesliga

Prime 4

Earlier than Sebastien Haller’s testicular tumour analysis, I’d have confidently picked Borussia Dortmund to win the championship. Nonetheless, with their new first-string striker lacking giant chunks of the season, Dortmund drop again to 2 in my energy rating. This leaves Bayern Munich as the one logical option to win the league, and for an eleventh time in a row, with Dortmund ending second. Behind the 2 powerhouses, issues change into unpredictable, as each RB Leipzig and Bayer Leverkusen have robust squads however might wrestle within the first half of the season.

Leverkusen ought to get better from early setbacks faster, as Florian Wirtz will come again from his knee damage in some unspecified time in the future and assist them attain third place. Fourth goes to VfL Wolfsburg — not essentially probably the most thrilling facet within the league however one which will get the job achieved below former Bayern boss Niko Kovac.

1st place: Bayern Munich
2nd place: Borussia Dortmund
third place: Bayer Leverkusen
4th place: VfL Wolfsburg

Relegated groups

This season might be the season by which Augsburg lastly go down. The small membership positioned 40 miles northwest of Munich has been within the Bundesliga since 2011 and out of doors of 1 or two outlier seasons, Augsburg have often been in survival mode. Enrico Maassen, their new supervisor, has no top-flight expertise, as he coached Dortmund’s reserve workforce most just lately and semi-professional sides earlier than that. Whereas Maassen is undoubtedly gifted, preserving Augsburg within the league would possibly change into an inconceivable activity.

The second workforce that will likely be relegated is Werder Bremen, who’ve made good signings following their promotion, however nonetheless do not possess sufficient high quality to complete above the relegation zone.

Prime scorer

If Patrik Schick might keep wholesome, he might simply be one in all Europe’s elite strikers. Ankle points and different accidents have impacted the Czech’s profession fairly considerably, but if he’s match, he turns into an virtually unstoppable purpose scorer. Schick is tall and technical, agile and astute — briefly, he has all of it. With first rate distribution from his teammates at Bayer Leverkusen, he ought to be capable of rating 25 targets.

Greatest goalkeeper

This might change into an in depth race between Bayern’s Manuel Neuer and Dortmund’s Gregor Kobel, on condition that these two will work behind steady defences and barely make any errors. Whereas Neuer has been among the many greatest goalkeepers on the planet for a decade, Kobel had his breakthrough reasonably just lately. Nonetheless, it appears nothing can actually rattle the 24-year-old Swiss. He’ll put up an incredible battle towards Neuer, however has to yield to Germany’s no. 1 yet another time.

Most yellow playing cards

This might be an in depth contest, as a result of a few gamers within the league have made a behavior out of selecting up yellow playing cards. Even the extremely gifted English worldwide Jude Bellingham will get within the books each different weekend, regardless that he appears head and shoulders above most of his opponents. Be that as it could, I choose Mainz’s Stefan Bell to obtain probably the most yellow playing cards. The 30-year-old is just a bit bit too gradual and, on the similar time, fairly old-school in his method to defending. Some mistimed tackles and tactical fouls will get him to a minimum of 10 bookings this yr.

Champions League winner

We should always by no means get carried away by early-season outcomes, however Bayern Munich’s performance against RB Leipzig in the German Supercup final weekend makes you assume that this facet may be higher now than earlier than Robert Lewandowski left. With out a conventional goal participant up entrance, supervisor Julian Nagelsmann will exploit a few of the tactical concepts which were at the back of his thoughts since he arrived in Munich. If Bayern hold their workforce wholesome, they’re my choose to win the cup subsequent June. — Eckner

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1:02

Paulo Dybala receives a hero’s welcome as he’s unveiled as a Roma participant.

Serie A

Prime 4

I write this with a large caveat. The window does not shut till the tip of the month and Serie A squads, for quite a lot of causes, are prone to see main overhauls between at times. So I reserve the fitting to make totally different predictions come Sept 1. That stated, I believe we’re taking a look at one other Milanese derby for the title, with the arrival of Romelu Lukaku and Henrikh Mkhitaryan transferring the needle in the direction of Inter (although “Prince” Charles de Ketelaere” is an enchanting increase for Milan).

I’ve Juventus at third, although Paul Pogba’s damage state of affairs must be intently monitored. And Jose Mourinho’s Roma, with the addition of Paulo Dybala, look properly positioned to pip the Kalidou Koulibaly-less Napoli to fourth.

1st place: Inter
2nd place: AC Milan
third place: Juventus
4th place: Napoli

Prime Scorer

I believe it is a three-way race between Lukaku, Lazio’s Ciro Immobile (hey, he is already received it 4 occasions) and Juventus’ Dusan Vlahovic. I am selecting Lukaku as a result of I believe Simone Inzaghi will tweak the assault to make it extra centre-forward targeted, whereas Motionless is a yr older and Juve nonetheless have unanswered provide chain questions for Vlahovic (How will Chiesa bounce again from his damage? How match will Pogba be? What situation is Angel Di Maria in?)

Relegation

Sampdoria, Salernitana, Cremonese. I’ve a smooth spot for Cremonese, however they misplaced 4 key contributors to their promotion run who returned to their guardian golf equipment on mortgage (Marco Carnesecchi, Gianluca Gaetano, Nicolo Fagioli and Caleb Okoli). Salernitana pulled off a miracle final yr, however lightning hardly ever strikes twice. Sampdoria are a multitude financially and are working on a shoestring: it is all the way down to them and Lecce, and I am backing Lecce to remain up.

Greatest goalkeeper

Mike Maignan. He conceded the fewest targets in Serie A final season and defensively Milan stay very robust. Inter ought to run them shut, however it’s not clear to me who their beginning keeper will likely be, so Maignan is the safer guess.

Most yellow playing cards

Gianluca Mancini of Roma. He led the league final season and Roma are prone to be fired up once more this yr. Roma as a workforce had the second-most yellow playing cards final season and Venezia have been relegated, so they give the impression of being well-placed to take the crown right here. Perhaps it is a pure consequence of Jose Mourinho’s depth inflicting you to take extra dangers than you usually would.

Champions League winner

Manchester Metropolis. I actually do not know, and will properly change my thoughts many occasions between now and the beginning of the season. I really feel that Pep Guardiola is due and, making an allowance for how troublesome it’s to repeat, how final season took a lot out of Liverpool, how Bayern have unanswered questions, how Paris Saint-Germain have a brand new coach, how Kylian Mbappe did not be a part of Actual Madrid and the way Erling Haaland’s season will not be affected by the World Cup, I will say Metropolis. — Marcotti

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1:23

Frank Leboeuf reacts to Thiago Silva’s feedback about wanting Neymar to affix him at Chelsea.

Ligue 1

Prime 4

Paris will likely be too robust for Ligue 1 as soon as extra. New supervisor Christophe Galtier cannot mess it up and the team played well in the Trophée des Champions with Lionel Messi and Neymar wanting sharp. It’s much more attention-grabbing to look behind PSG at who can end within the prime 4. Lyon have achieved a powerful recruitment (Lacazette, Tolisso, Tagliafico). Monaco will compete, Lucien Favre can do good issues at Nice who recruited properly. Marseille, who’re already going via a disaster with new supervisor Igor Tudor, will miss out.

1st place: PSG
2nd place: Lyon
third place: Monaco
4th place: Good

Prime scorer

Kylian Mbappe. He completed with 28 targets final season, 27 the yr earlier than, and 18 previous to that. So it’s three seasons not going over the 30 targets a season mark, like he did in 2018-2019 with 33 and that is the yr when he’ll recover from 30 once more. After extending his contract at PSG and having extra duties, he will likely be even stronger on the pitch. With Messi and Neymar wanting sharp already, and Paris’ good recruitment this summer season (Vitinha, Ekitike, Sanches, Mukiele), Mbappe will star much more than traditional.

Relegation

Auxerre, Clermont, Lorient, Troyes. This season, 4 groups are happening as Ligue 1 is transferring again to an 18-club league as an alternative of 20 so it’s critical to remain up. It’s a battle between six golf equipment: the 2 promoted sides, Auxerre and Toulouse in addition to Brest, Lorient, Clermont and Troyes. Toulouse have been good this summer season and their venture is promising. For Auxerre, it will likely be robust. Similar for Lorient and their new supervisor Regis Le Bris. Clermont misplaced their greatest participant Mohamed Bayo, whereas there are tensions between gamers and supervisor already at Troyes.

Greatest goalkeeper

Walter Benitez received it with 14 clear sheets final season. He since left for PSV Eindhoven and has been changed by Kasper Schmeichel. My winner for this season is Donnarumma. The PSG defence will likely be stronger with a again 3 and Galtier has chosen the Italian as his primary so he’ll play each league sport in contrast to final season, and can hold many clear sheets. Alexander Nubel and Monaco might be up there too, alongside Patrick Pentz at Reims.

Most yellow playing cards

Facundo Medina. There are just a few contenders. Marco Verratti “received” this award final season with 12, forward of Lille’s Benjamin André and Lens‘ Facundo Medina with 11. Medina was additionally third the season earlier than with 11 once more. I believe he ought to be prime this season. He’s an aggressive defender in a workforce which presses loads. So it’s the proper match!

Champions League winner

PSG, lastly, that is their yr (I write this each summer season). The squad is significantly better than final yr, extra balanced, youthful and extra French, even. New supervisor Christophe Galtier will make this squad click on and the magic of Messi, Neymar and Mbappé, in addition to the management of Sergio Ramos, will do the remainder. “Paris, Champion of Europe” sounds nice. — Laurens

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