Meet the Champions League play-off entrants

2 Aug

Manchester City (ENG)
How they qualified: fourth in the Premier League
Last season: UEFA Champions League semi-finals
Coach: Josep Guardiola
Key players: Vincent Kompany, Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva, Sergio Agüero
Pivotal summer signing: İlkay Gündoğan
Strengths: the Guardiola effect, pace, goals throughout the side
Possible weaknesses: overreliance on Kompany, adapting to a new style


Mönchengladbach (GER)
How they qualified: fourth in the Bundesliga
Last season: UEFA Champions League group stage
Coach: André Schubert
Key players: Yann Sommer, Christoph Kramer, Lars Stindl, Raffael
Pivotal summer signing: Christoph Kramer
Strengths: strong attack, always able to score goals, pace
Possible weaknesses: can Kramer replace Granit Xhaka in the heart of midfield? Several new defenders means the back line could need time to click

Vote for your Goal of the Season

Porto (POR)
How they qualified: third in the Portuguese Liga
Last season: UEFA Europa League last 32 (after transferring from UEFA Champions League group stage)
Coach: Nuno Espírito Santo
Key players: Iker Casillas, Miguel Layún, Danilo Pereira, Héctor Herrera, Yacine Brahimi
Pivotal summer signing: Felipe
Strengths: creativity in midfield and out wide, promising pre-season for young striker André Silva
Possible weaknesses: adapting to a new coach, defensive instability, lack of a reliable goalscorer (André Silva is still very inexperienced)

Roma (ITA)
How they qualified: third in Serie A
Last season: UEFA Champions League round of 16
Coach: Luciano Spalletti
Key players: Daniele De Rossi, Radja Nainggolan, Alessandro Florenzi, Francesco Totti
Pivotal summer signing: Gerson/Juan Jesus
Strengths: Spalletti has a clean slate, quick and attacking wingers, the return of Kevin Strootman
Possible weaknesses:
injuries in defence (Antonio Rüdiger and Mário Rui both out for several months), poor form of Edin Džeko last term, Totti turning 40

Choose your Save of the Season

Villarreal (ESP)
How they qualified: fourth in the Spanish Liga
Last season: UEFA Europa League semi-finals
Coach: Marcelino García Toral
Key players: Bruno Soriano, Mario Gaspar, Jonathon dos Santos, Mateo Musacchio
Pivotal summer signing: Denis Cheryshev
Strengths: mean defence, speed on the break
Possible weaknesses: loss of key men Eric Bailly and Denis Suárez, competing on all fronts may take its toll on relatively thin squad

Top ten UEFA Champions League goals from last season

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