The 67th edition of the Champions League begins this Tuesday, September 14. For this first round, several Moroccan players playing in Europe will have the opportunity to shine with their respective clubs to claim a place among the elite. If the last campaign was won by Chelsea club Hakim Ziyech, what will happen to this season?
As every year, the Champions League returns with its share of surprises. This campaign will have a different taste than the previous one, since it marks the return of the post-Covid-19 public, with exceptional group matches and major pressure for those who aspire to glean their first trophy, like Paris Saint-Germain by Achraf Hakimi or Manchester City, not to mention the clashes between Barça and Bayern Munich, between Liverpool and AC Milan, or between Inter Milan and Real Madrid.
And then there is Chelsea, club of Hakim Ziyech, defending champion in the Champions League, which turns out to be a real steamroller with the return of Romelu Lukaku. Manchester United also have serious expectations to hoist the Champions League again now that the Cristiano Ronaldo scoring machine is back in the fold. So English clubs, including Liverpool in this group, again seem the most likely to win it all, with PSG, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid being the more realistic challengers, although Italian sides still have the potential to do so. a surprise race.
Among the nuggets counted in these clubs, we find in particular Achraf Hakimi and Hakim Ziyech. Many clubs such as Sevilla FC of Munir El Haddadi, Youssef En-Nesyri, Yassine Bounou or Ajax Amsterdam of Zakaria Labyad and Noussair Mazraoui are not to be neglected since they benefit from a strong workforce that could create a surprise . Adel Taarabt with Benfica Lisbon and Zouhair Feddal with Sporting Portugal are also expected by Moroccan supporters.
Achraf Hakimi feeds hope for a title with PSG
All the spotlight will be on Achraf Hakimi. The new nugget of Paris Saint-Germain, recruited this summer at 60 million euros, has already seduced Europe with its high-flying performances in Ligue 1 and will take part in the competition for the first time under the Parisian colors, after the to have won with Real Madrid and to have defended the colors of Borussia Dortmund and Inter Milan.
Now, the Moroccan international will start the campaign with his new club against FC Brugges on Wednesday (September 15th). The pressure is great for the Moroccan and his team, given favorites after an XXL transfer window including the arrival of Argentine star Lionel Messi and Madrid defender Sergio Ramos.
Undisputed holder since the start of his season (1 goal, 2 assists), Hakimi can count on the confidence of his coach, Mauricio Pochettino who will need his offensive and defensive qualities to carry out this campaign. The Argentinian technician already seems under the spell of his foal.
“Achraf is a young player whom I already followed when I was at Tottenham. We were about to take him to Spurs, but then he went to play for Dortmund. He is very strong, his physical potential is enormous. He is young, he still needs to mature defensively, but he contributes a lot in attack ”, he declared adding that he is one “of the best full-backs in the world”.
To achieve his ends, Hakimi and PSG will have to deal with sacred competitors. Starting from the pools with a Manchester City which, like the Red and Blue, has not yet had the expected return on investment at European level.
The Parisian group for #CLUPSG ! 📋🔴🔵
– Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_inside) September 14, 2021
Ziyech inspires Moroccan players in C1
Title holder with Chelsea, Hakim Ziyech is aiming for a double in the Champions League and will start the competition this Tuesday, September 14 against Zenit Saint Petersburg. The Moroccan international, who did not play in the final last season, intends to find the paths of the lawn under the leadership of Thomas Tuchel who seems to want to give him the chance to shine this season.
The German technician has used it in every pre-season game as he also participated in the UEFA Super Cup, where he injured his shoulder after scoring the first goal of the match. The Moroccan also used in his club’s victory against Aston Villa (3-0).
With Romelu Lukaku added to the mix, Chelsea look like an even more formidable proposition, and it’s easy to envision the team getting stronger as Tuchel has time to work his magic.
It would give more chances to impress silky playmaker Hakim Ziyech, whose performances so far have been mostly decorative, and goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, who has been a key man in the European success of the Blues. The two are the only African representatives of a club that has, over the years, had its fair share of the continent’s best players.
Our defense of the #UCL starts here!
Let’s go! ✊ pic.twitter.com/czDnWOI8Ij
– Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) September 14, 2021
The Moroccan trio to raise Sevilla FC to the highest level
The Moroccan trio of Sevilla FC Yassine Bounou, Munir El Haddadi and Youssef En-Nesyri will cross swords with the Austrian RB Salzburg, this Tuesday, September 14, while Oussama Idrissi was not included on the list of potential players to play the competition.
The Julen Lopetegui team will enter the conflict after a draw with Elche (1-1), a victory over Getafe (1-0) and a victory over Rayo Vallecano (3-0), so they accumulate a positive record for their debut in the league, and can count on their Moroccan goalkeeper Yassine Bounou.
Great architect of the Andalusian victory in the Europa League last season, Yassine Bounou has become Julen Lopetegui’s number 1 goalkeeper and will have the opportunity to consolidate his place as one of the best goalkeepers in Europe.
– Sevilla Fútbol Club (@SevillaFC) September 14, 2021
For his part, Youssef En-Nesyri will look to build on last season’s performance. The Moroccan is probably just a cut below the world class, but he’s improving all the time (he knocked out competition from Luuk de Jong, who has now joined Barcelona) and is now established as Sevilla’s undisputed number 9. . In a group with Lille, Salzburg and Wolfsburg, he could well fill his boots.
The last Moroccan and the least sure to enjoy a lot of playing time, is Munir El Haddadi who decided to stay with the Andalusian squad after being put on the transfer market, desired by a host of clubs such as Watford. or even Crystal Palace.
Mazraoui returns to the Champions League with Ajax
Ajax Amsterdam will meet Zouhair Feddal’s Sporting Portugal on Wednesday. The Dutch giant in which Zakaria Labyad and Noussair Mazraoui evolves aspires to reproduce the epic of his campaign in 2018/2019 during which he reached the semi-finals before sinking against Tottenham Hotspur, raising him to the highest European level.
However, last season, which saw the departure of many executives including Hakim Ziyech, was not successful for the formation of Erik Ten Hag who ended up in the Europa League, failing to do better.
Far from this debacle, the Ajacids are ready to do battle, as Mazraoui expressed in a recent interview with Ajax TV, with the excitement of finding the most prestigious European competition, its anthem and particularly the supporters.
New season, new hopes & dreams… 🙏
– AFC Ajax (@AFCAjax) September 13, 2021
“Before a Champions League game, it’s mainly about taking advantage of this moment. When you hear the anthem, you don’t need more motivation. It’s a crazy feeling, which you don’t get very often. It’s always goosebumps. Above all. when you step onto the pitch and see your own supporters in a packed arena“, He declared, before adding:
“And then you hear this song. It’s awesome. You are proud and you think where you are from. You really can’t wait, you feel that extra energy that you are getting. Then this camera passes in front of your head. There “I don’t want to look straight in the eye, otherwise I feel like I’m very impressed. So I look around the audience and see how everyone is sitting there. I think about how I was there myself. I really took advantage of that “.
“Last season we played without supporters, it started to get used to at one point. But now that they’re back, I just feel like I really missed them. I can not wait “, rejoices the Lion of the Atlas, who will find his compatriot, Zouhair Feddal, who has become a pillar of the Portuguese club.
Adel Taarabt will not let the opportunity pass to show his technical qualities with Benfica Lisbon when he faces Dynamo Kiev on Tuesday 14 September.
Here is the full program of the first day
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 14:
Dynamo Kiev (Ukraine) – Benfica (Portugal)
FC Barcelona (Spain) – Bayern Munich (Germany)
6:45 p.m. Young Boys (Switzerland) – Manchester United (England), BeIn Sports 2
9 p.m. Villarreal (Spain) – Atalanta Bergamo (Italy)
Seville FC (Spain) – RB Salzburg (Austria)
Lille (France) – Wolfsburg (Germany)
Malmö (Sweden) – Juventus Turin (Italy)
Chelsea (England) – Zenit Saint-Petersburg (Russia)
WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 15:
Club Bruges (Belgium) – Paris SG (France)
Manchester City (England) – RB Leipzig (Germany)
Atlético Madrid (Spain) – Porto (Portugal)
Liverpool (England) – AC Milan (Italy)
Besiktas (Turkey) – Dortmund (Germany)
Sporting Portugal (Portugal) – Ajax Amsterdam (Netherlands)
Sheriff Tiraspol (Moldova) – Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine)
Inter Milan (Italy) – Real Madrid (Spain)