It’s that time of year again. Another season has come and gone and players and viewers alike are setting off on holiday (unless you’re West Brom who decided to start their summer holidays at the end of March). So, with no more matches to look forward to, it’s time to make some quick-fire predictions for the summer ahead.
1. Antoine Griezmann will leave Atletico
Griezmann himself had said there is a 6/10 chance he will join Manchester United, on French TV. Aside from the player himself seeing his future elsewhere, will Simeone (if he is still manager) want such a key player in a key role not being 100% committed to the team? Griezmann’s departure could open the door to Diego Costa’s return. The Chelsea striker has already said the only club he will leave Chelsea for is his beloved Atletico. China may have something to say about that. Alexandre Lacazette’s confirmed transfer adds yet more smoke to the Griezmann fire, as it looks like one Frenchman in and one Frenchman out at the Vincente Calderon.
2. Whoever takes over Barca will have a mighty job to do.
Luis Enrique made sure his tenure at Barcelona ended out on a high with a 3-1 win over Alaves in the Copa Del Rey final. However, it papers over the deep cracks that have emerged in recent years. The new manager will have to offload recent signings who have not performed, with Lucas Digne and Jasper Cillessen already being linked away. Replacements must also be found for the aging Javier Mascherano and Jeremy Mathieu (who’s performances have fallen off a cliff this season) as Barcelona will surely look to strengthen a leaky defence. On top of that, it is vital Barca are La Liga champions next year after Real Madrid became champions for the first time since 2012-13. No pressure then.
3. Real Madrid will win the Champions League
Zizou’s near-perfect start to his managerial career looks set to continue as we near the Champions League final on June 3rd. Juventus have a worrying habit of choking at finals of European competitions. The most recent being their last Champions League final in 2014 when they lost to Barcelona. Real have also scored in every game this season, an incredible record threatening even the most pragmatic defence of them all, in Juventus’ back three. With Isco, Benzema and Ronaldo all hitting scintillating form at the tail end of the season, Real’s chances of taking home an 11th Champions League are looking good.
4. Eibar will continue to build on another incredible season
Everyone loves an underdog, and SD Eibar are La Liga’s serial over-achievers. The fan-owned club were promoted in the 2013-14 season and have defied the odds to stay in the top flight and establish stability, despite their microscopic size and resources compared to other clubs. Their tale is put into context by the fact that they have 3000 more shareholders (10,000) than their stadium capacity (7,000). Yet, this season they finished 10th and scored the same amount of goals as Villarreal who finished 5th. Fans will be hoping the permanent signing of on-loan goalkeeper, Yoel is the first piece of shrewd business, as the Eibar fairy-tale rolls on for another season and may even dream of a European spot next year.