The World Cup is almost here. In this issue, we will preview the season and look at the big questions ahead. European soccer will fall dormant until at least late December, if not longer, with the World Cup in Qatar scheduled to begin a week from Sunday. The soccer world will experience its first-ever bizarro All-Star break, in which most of the finest players compete in some far-off locale while the rest of the playing population takes a break.
But what will happen when everyone returns? Here are some questions that will determine the rest of the 2022–23 European season while you are still interested in the club game.
Will Manchester City finally win the CL?
The same scenario has played out over the previous five years: Pep Guardiola's team is the early favorite to win the European Cup, then the odds increase before the knockout stages, and then they lose. Of course, this speaks more to the chance-based character of knockout soccer than it does to any fundamental weakness in the design or coaching of City's teams. They are the favorites, according to FiveThirtyEight, but there is still a 75% chance that another team will take home the championship.
But if we simply assume that City has been a 1-in-4 favorite for each of the last five competitions, then there is only a 24% chance that City won't take home the trophy at least once during that time. Every season, a City victory is expected, but it's even less conceivable that a half-decade of complete dominance will result in no Champions League titles.
Can Haaland keep top form?
The 22-year-old City striker has 18 goals in 13 Premier League games. Two players scored more than 18 goals in a season last year. Mohamed Salah of Liverpool set a record with 32 goals throughout a 38-game season in 2017–18. According to the Sporting Index betting market, Haaland's season over/under is 40. In other words, if Haaland finishes the season well, he will typically break the record for goals scored by eight.
What will happen to Barcelona? Will they get it together?
Both their Champions League campaign and their summer were utter failures. Barcelona is utterly dominating LaLiga, despite selling off their future and losing to Inter Milan at home. They lead Real Madrid by two points and lead in all four categories in La Liga: offense, defense, possession percentage in the final third, and press. They have consistently outperformed everyone in Spain in practically every significant area of the game. Can they defeat Madrid and win their first championship since 2019?
Will anyone stop Bayern in the Bundesliga?
The table is deceiving us all, even if the 10-time champions only lead by four points. Despite, you know, letting perhaps the finest striker in the world (Robert Lewandowski) depart for Barcelona over the summer, Julian Nagelsmann and company have amassed a plus-34 goal difference through their first 14 games. No other German player has a goal difference that is higher than plus-8. It has been a while since this league was competitive, and it won't be this year either.
Is this the end of Ronaldo?
As sad as it is, is it finally here? At 37 years old, Ronaldo is either unable to or unwilling to find a method to tactically and competitively contribute to a team with the goals of Manchester United. In the games he has played, they have generally looked terrible, and he is no longer able to compel goals to fall from the sky to make up for the chaos his presence in the team causes.
It would seem best for everyone if he moved on, but he is 37 years old, one of the highest-paid athletes in the world, and appears to be getting farther and further away from being a successful player for the few teams who can pay him. Will Ronaldo play in his last high-stakes soccer match at the World Cup?
Is Liverpool on track for a bad season?
The market is still clinging to Liverpool's prior performance, the one in which they came close to winning the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup, and Carabao Cup in the same season, based on the projections mentioned above. They are predicted to finish the season with 52 victories, which puts them behind City's 59 victories but ahead of Arsenal's 48. In other words, Liverpool continues to rank as the second-best side in the Premier League in the eyes of those who regularly profit from predicting the results of soccer matches.
Due to the numerous challenges, Liverpool is facing and the numerous injuries, only two outfield players, Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah, have played at least 80% of the league minutes available. As a result, it's possible that Liverpool will have a strong second half of the season.
Is the Bellingham trade going to happen?
In the past year or so, Bellingham-to-Liverpool appears to have been one of soccer's worst-kept secrets. He played for the club where Liverpool's current manager, Jurgen Klopp, became famous, and he just fits the team and style like a glove. He also had a terrific relationship with the current captain, Jordan Henderson.
A rangy third midfielder who could cover the ground behind Salah and fullback Trent Alexander-Arnold while still making runs forward to score goals, create chances, and disturb a defense was the one thing Liverpool looked to need last season. Henderson could do the former, but anytime he ducked behind the defense, he frequently appeared uneasy. They lacked that player since there are only three or four people in the world who are capable of doing that, but Bellingham's fit—who falls somewhere between a holding midfielder and an attacking midfielder as well as a tempo-setter—seemed to be almost ideal.
According to media reports, Liverpool is still in the lead in the rumored “race for his signature,” but they are now really at risk of not competing in the Champions League next year. In addition, they appear to have a midfield void that needs to be filled quickly. Bellingham will undoubtedly cost Liverpool more than they have ever paid for a player, especially if they try to complete a move in the January transfer window. Liverpool is known for being meticulous and analytical. Although they could wait it out, the more time passes, the more soccer matches are played, the more things change, and the more other teams can enter the picture. So what will happen – well the answer is that the uncertainty will still be there even after the World Cup.