Between The Lines

3 Clubs Who Will Surprise You This Season

Sometimes in Football, it is easy to stick with the big dogs, the Manchester City’s and the Bayern Munich’s. Well here at Taste Of Football, that isn’t our cup of tea, so feast your eyes on my hipster picks for success this year…

1. Atlético Madrid

Please, hear me out. A Diego Simeone masterclass is inbound.

The incomings have addressed exactly what they needed to address. Quality depth was bought, with players who are going to push their first team counterparts for places. Arias offers a younger alternative to Juanfran when needing to break down low blocks, Rodri from Villareal offers a different dimension to the double pivot of Koke-Saúl, and finally, Lemar and Martins ensure that they are even more deadly on the break.

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EFFICIENT: Rodri was successful in 92% of his take ons last season.

Ensuring Oblak, Godín and Griezmann all stayed at the club means that they have the strongest squad in years, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they beat Barca to the title, and won the UCL. Yes, I said it. Match this Simeone team up to anybody and they will be able to handle them. Having a season at the Wanda Metropolitano under their belts will help create a fortress in which no team will want to visit. With the Super Cup win, it may have put them on the map more, but they are perennial underdogs, and they really could do it all this season. My pick for the UCL.

2. Borussia Mönchengladbach

With the rollercoasters rides during the Favre and Schubert years, I have a feeling Gladbach will be amongst Germany’s elite this season.

The signing of Alassane Pléa really does give them a proper focal point to their attacks. Scoring 21 goals in a Nice team that didn’t hit the heights of the 16/17 campaign, it is scary to imagine what he can do with Thorgan Hazard and Stindl supporting him. Cuisance, at 18, was named their Player of the Season for the 17/18 campaign. He possesses unbelievable passing range and the ability to evade pressure and then progress play effectively is outstanding for his age.

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SWEEPING: Mickaël Cuisance’s unmatched range of passing unlocks defences with ease

The English core that is being built here is surely ready to storm Borussia-Park. Keanan Bennetts and Mandela Egbo are part of the trailblazers in English youth football at the moment, venturing abroad to find first-team football and showcase the hidden gems from within the English youth system that don’t usually get a chance at their home club. Exciting times are ahead, and they have the players to really put themselves on the map this year.

3. Crystal Palace

With West Ham facing the same problems as before, and Burnley looking to give their all in their European adventures, watch out for the mighty Palace.

Over the last two seasons, the recruitment from Parish and the Palace hierarchy has been impeccable. They have a ‘Big 6’ calibre CB in Mamadou Sakho. If it wasn’t for his antics at Liverpool, he would be playing alongside VVD. At fullback, they have two energetic bulldogs, in Wan-Bissaka and van Aanholt, who under the guidance of astute coach Roy Hodgson, have become reliable in both phases of the game.

Onto the midfield, the acquisition of Max Meyer may be one of the best bargains of the summer. Even if he uses the club as a stepping-stone he is worth the hype. Seeing him play in a deep-lying playmaker role last season compared to his usual attacking midfield position was a breath of fresh air. He has developed his priceless parts of his repertoire; game intelligence and his defensive skills. This opens up two roles to the young German; the LM and CM roles.

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MATURITY: Meyer put up career highs in Interceptions and Tackles per game last season.

With Zaha and Benteke, they have the best striking pair outside the ‘Big 6’. Benteke is a very temperamental player, but if he builds up a head of steam, he will be hard to stop. Zaha, in my opinion, is worth every penny of his £70 million price tag. Possessing pace and power, like Sterling last season, he has added goals to his game and coming into his best years, it is frightening to think what Zaha could become.

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