2023-24 European League season kicks off today; Previews & Fixtures

Championship winners Burnley host Premiership holders City today

Manchester City begin their latest top-flight title defence against last term’s Championship winners Burnley at Turf Moor.

Pep Guardiola‘s men go into the new campaign off the back of an unforgettable treble-winning season, and their first hurdle to yet more history this time around comes in the shape of one of the club’s greatest-ever players – Burnley boss Vincent Kompany.

Even for a club that has enjoyed such enormous success as Man City have in the Guardiola era, the 2022-23 campaign will live long in the memory as the Citizens swept all before them.

There have been few signs that Man City will let their standards slip, though, and they once again go into the new season as favourites to lift the Premier League title – something that would see them become the first team in history to lift four top-flight English titles on the bounce, and further strengthen their claim to being the best team this country has ever produced.

The champions have also bolstered their ranks during the summer with Josko Gvardiol and Mateo Kovacic arriving, although they have lost two key figures of their recent success in captain Ilkay Gundogan and Riyad Mahrez.

Turf Moor was a fortress in the Championship last season for Burnley and it will be bouncing as Premier League football returns under the floodlights on Friday, so we are expecting the hosts to give the champions a stern opening test.

Credit: sportsmole.co.uk

Arsenal begin bid for Premier League supremacy at home to Nottingham Forest

Fresh from lifting another trophy aloft in the Wembley sunshine, Arsenal begin their latest bid for Premier League supremacy at home to Nottingham Forest on Saturday lunchtime.

Rice, Arsenal

The Gunners ended their Manchester City hoodoo to win the Community Shield last weekend and are now out for a slice of revenge against the team who officially ended their title dreams last term.

The age-old debate over whether the Community Shield counts as a piece of silverware continues to rage, but Arsenal’s celebrations on the day were telling, as Arteta’s men finally ended their spate of dismal defeats against the treble winners and potentially gave themselves a huge psychological boost ahead of another title charge. The Arsenal doctors are already working overtime ahead of the start of the new season, as Gabriel Jesus will spend the next few weeks recovering from a knee operation.

Clean sheets at the Emirates may not have been Arsenal’s forte last term, but with a couple of Forest’s attackers yet to hit full fitness, the Gunners should commence the new season in perfect fashion. Such an outlay should also see the Gunners shut up shop at home more often than they did last term.

Spirits will already be extremely high in Arteta’s camp following their Community Shield success, and Turner’s North London homecoming will surely be a miserable one, as the hosts stroll to an opening-day win with a few goals in tow.

Credit: sportsmole.co.uk

Real Madrid seek perfect start as they take on Athletic Bilbao

Real Madrid will be bidding to make the perfect start to their 2023-24 La Liga campaign when they head to San Mames on Saturday evening to take on Athletic Bilbao.

Jude Bellingham, Real Madrid

Los Blancos finished second in the table last season, 10 points behind the champions Barcelona, while Athletic were eighth, two points behind seventh-placed Osasuna in the race for European qualification.

Athletic have serious work to do in order to secure European qualification for the 2024-25 campaign. They will enter this match off the back of a 1-1 draw with Manchester United in Dublin last weekend, with the friendly rounding off their preparations for the new campaign.

Ernesto Valverde‘s side have not actually beaten Real Madrid in La Liga since March 2015, which is extremely worrying, but they did manage to hold Los Blancos to a 1-1 draw when the two teams last locked horns on the final matchday of last season.

Real Madrid has seen four incomings during the current market, with Jude BellinghamArda Guler and Fran Garcia arriving on permanent deals, while Joselu has joined on loan from Espanyol for the new season; Brahim Diaz is also back at the club following a loan spell at AC Milan.

Real Madrid fell short in both La Liga and the Champions League last season, but they did manage to win the Copa del Rey, and it will be fascinating to see how the team perform this term without Karim Benzema, who surprisingly ended his time at the club to move to Saudi Arabia.

Real Madrid have been through some teething problems during pre-season, but we are backing Ancelotti’s side to navigate their way to all three points.

Credit: sportsmole.co.uk

Sevilla welcome Valencia to Estadio Ramon friday night

There is a standout fixture on the opening matchday of the 2023-24 La Liga campaign, with Sevilla welcoming Valencia to Estadio Ramon for what should be a fascinating affair.

Both teams desperately underachieved in La Liga last season, with Sevilla ending the season down in 12th position, while Valencia were 16th, only just surviving relegation to the second tier of Spanish football.

Athletic Bilbao Inaki Williams

Sevilla would have been glad to put a difficult 2022-23 La Liga season behind them, with the team seriously underachieving last term considering their talent, finishing down in 12th spot in the table on 49 points.

Los Nervionenses managed to save their campaign, though, by winning the Europa League, which directly qualified them for the group stage of the 2023-24 Champions League, so they will once again be present in the biggest cup competition in European football.

Sevilla have played eight times during a busy pre-season, and they will enter this match off the back of a 1-1 draw with domestic rivals Atletico Madrid on August 6.

Valencia’s 16th-placed finish in La Liga last season was their worst final spot in Spain’s top flight which is an indication of their problems.

Two of the last three league meetings between these two sides have finished level, while Sevilla are unbeaten against Valencia in Spain’s top light since March 2019, but Sevilla should be winning this type of match at Estadio Ramon considering their quality.

Credit: sportsmole.co.uk


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