Tag: Bayern Munich

We Predict… The 2018-19 Season

You do realise that it’s been nearly one whole month since the FIFA World Cup finished, right? Three-and-a-bit weeks have passed since France dismantled Croatia in Moscow, which in our minds means we’ve been deprived of top class football for far too long. It’s about time the 2018-19 season kicked off and we get back to what really matters. Cast aside the mundane pre-season tours and friendlies for the real, proper, competitive, edge-of-your-seat drama acted out by the best players football has to offer.

After all, that’s what we’re all here for. The big leagues and the big names. And in 2018-19 those big names have a lot to answer for. There’s a mouthwatering title tussle in England while Cristiano Ronaldo sets out on his new adventure in Serie A, Steven Gerrard is the main story in Scotland and, as ever, the likes of FC Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and Juventus are bearing down on Real Madrid to steal their European crown.

With just a handful of days until the big kick-off we, the staff of Icons.com, are back again to answer (or at least attempt to answer) the burning questions on everyone’s minds ahead of the season opener at Old Trafford on Friday night. But don’t just take our word for it, send us your predictions for the season ahead on our FacebookTwitter and Instagram pages. You can hardly do much worse.

And, of course, be sure to check out our fantastic range of signed items from Premier League stars past and present – available right now on Icons.com.

Manchester City and Liverpool are strong favourites to contest the Premier League title.

Edward Freedman, Non-Executive Chairman

Premier League winners: MANCHESTER CITY are the strongest team with a great coach. There’s no reason that Liverpool can’t win it but City have strengthened with the addition of Riyad Mahrez from Leicester City. It’ll be close.
2nd – Liverpool 3rd – Manchester United 4th – Tottenham Hotspur
Relegated: Cardiff City, Fulham and Crystal Palace
Golden Boot: SERGIO AGUERO looks fit and on form with lots of support from City’s myriad creative talent.

Serie A winners: Cristiano Ronaldo will change his role by coming deeper and be as good as ever. He has a lot of supporting acts at JUVENTUS, who should take the title easily.
La Liga winners: FC BARCELONA have strengthened while Real Madrid have disappointed during the summer. Madrid have already lost Ronaldo and if Luka Modric goes too that will be a seismic a blow.
Bundesliga winners: BAYERN MUNICH. It’ll be the same old, same old in Germany, which, admittedly is quite boring.

UEFA Champions League winners: The arrival of Arturo Vidal to FC BARCELONA will bring Real Madrid‘s three-year dominance to an end. Barca have an excellent coach who can pull it off.
UEFA Europa League winners: SEVILLA have a decent team and are well experienced in winning this competition. I like them out of the frontrunners.

Signing of the season: The very attacking RIYAD MAHREZ will only grow under Pep Guardiola alongside much higher quality teammates.

My team, FC Barcelona, will… be stronger at the back with a superb goalkeeper in Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Samuel Umtiti growing in stature. They’re now a real team and not just an attacking force.

Mark my words… Zinedine Zidane will be managing Manchester United before Christmas. More of the old school of English managers will be replaced by younger continental coaches.

There’s a new face in Turin. You may already know his name.

Dan Jamieson, CEO

Premier League winners: MANCHESTER CITY haven’t gone backwards so should retain the title under Pep Guardiola. That said, key component Fernandinho must stay fit.
2nd – Liverpool 3rd – Tottenham Hotspur 4th – Arsenal
Relegated: Newcastle United, Cardiff City and Huddersfield Town
Golden Boot: SERGIO AGUERO is the biggest goal threat in the league’s best and most creative team.

Serie A winners: It’s not just the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo that makes JUVENTUS favourites. It’s also the capture of Emre Can and the return of Leonardo Bonucci.
La Liga winners: Lionel Messi and FC BARCELONA win the league title for fun but is another league and cup double really enough?
Bundesliga winners: I’ll go with RB LEIPZIG just for the fun of it.

UEFA Champions League winners: From a tactical standpoint, LIVERPOOL are more suited to winning on the ultimate stage than in domestic competitions.
UEFA Europa League winners: Unai Emery knows how to win this competition and he’ll bring that nous to ARSENAL.

Signing of the season: NABY KEITA is like Roy Keane on steroids mixed with Paul Ince on fast forward.

My team, Liverpool, will… be pipped to the post by a Manchester City team who have more experience. But teams coming to attack allows us to counter with extreme pace so it should be another exciting campaign at Anfield.

Mark my words… Manchester United will implode, leaving Jose Mourinho to pack his bags and leave his hotel just in time for Christmas. England‘s youth players will start to break in to first teams across the country – the future is bright for 2026. Fulham (who have bought very well over the summer, by the way) will stay up with a surprisingly entertaining brand of football.

Jose Mourinho is into his third season at Manchester United…

Ben Soley, Sales and Marketing Manager

Premier League winners: Out of sheer hope as much as expectation, I’ll say LIVERPOOL.
2nd – Manchester City 3rd – Manchester United 4th – Chelsea
Relegated: Huddersfield Town, Fulham and Crystal Palace
Golden Boot: HARRY KANE will finally break his August duct and, despite being exhausted from his FIFA World Cup exploits, the Englishman will win this honour yet again.

Serie A winners: Could you imagine JUVENTUS not winning the title now?
La Liga winners: FC BARCELONA will surely be Spanish champions again.
Bundesliga winners: The obvious choice in Germany is BAYERN MUNICH.

UEFA Champions League winners: Isn’t it FC BARCELONA‘s turn again?
UEFA Europa League winners: With a mere 50 hours left of the transfer window at the time of writing CHELSEA have only to keep their squad together to walk this competition.

Signing of the season: NABY KEITA gives Liverpool a new famous number eight as well as a proper number one.

My team, Liverpool, will… start strong but find themselves in second place after a tricky spell around Christmas time. Still, dare I say it’s our year? In the end they’ll have the league won with two games to spare.

Mark my words… Jose Mourinho will be gone by this time next year while at the same time the world transfer record will be broken once again and Liverpool will have won silverware. I also predict that I will have changed my mind about most of the above within the first two weeks of the season.

Liverpool’s Naby Keita is much-fancied to be a hit in the Premier League.

James Tildesley, Head of New Business

Premier League winners: No surprises here, really. I can’t see anyone beating MANCHESTER CITY. The only thing that I can see upsetting their dominance is an injury to Fernandinho as they don’t have a quality replacement at the time of writing.
2nd – Liverpool 3rd – Arsenal 4th – Tottenham Hotspur
Relegated: Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town and Crystal Palace
Golden Boot: The metronome that is HARRY KANE wins this while Mohamed Salah does well again… but not as well as last season.

Serie A winners: AC Milan will run JUVENTUS close.
La Liga winners: With Real Madrid in transition, FC BARCELONA retain the title.
Bundesliga winners: If anyone gets near BAYERN MUNICH expect the Bavarian side to buy their key players at the end of the season.

UEFA Champions League winners: FC BARCELONA will beat Manchester City in the final.
UEFA Europa League winners: If CHELSEA embrace the playing style of new manager Mauricio Sarri, they’ll be excellent in Europe.

Signing of the season: NABY KEITA is exactly what Liverpool need and he suits their playing style perfectly.

My team, Aston Villa, will… reach the play-offs at best. They need to rebuild after last season and the new owners will help with that. But to galvanise the team enough to put consistent performances across 46 gruelling games and win that league is a step too far.

Mark my words… Burnley will drop like a stone with the addition of European football to their fixture list. They’ll finish 17th. Manchester United will have a horrendous season with Jose Mourinho gone in January. Losing Assistant Manager Rui Faria is massive – it’s going to be a hard watch for United fan this season.

Steven Gerrard is the big story in Scotland as he looks to topple Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic.

Alistair Hunter, Senior Editor

Premier League winners: LIVERPOOL have just about enough to topple Manchester City. Either way this will be an enthralling title race that goes down to the wire. Buckle up, this is going to be a classic.
2nd – Manchester City 3rd – Tottenham Hotspur 4th – Chelsea
Relegated: Cardiff City, Bournemouth and a Rafa-less Newcastle United
Golden Boot: Another season among Europe’s top scorers cements HARRY KANE‘s place among the Premier League greats.

Serie A winners: Carlo Ancelotti pulls off the mother of all upsets in bringing the Scudetto back to NAPOLI.
La Liga winners: Arturo Vidal gives FC BARCELONA much-needed backbone. La Blaugrana won’t be stopped in Spain – unless they find themselves twelve yards from goal, of course.
Bundesliga winners: John Williams’ Imperial March plays as BAYERN MUNICH sweep their rivals aside once again.

UEFA Champions League winners: Those of us who had at least one eye open during the FIFA World Cup will have seen just how fearless and seemingly unstoppable Kylian Mbappe is right now. Under the astute guidance of Thomas Tuchel, this is the year that PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN finally get it right.
UEFA Europa League winners: Rangers storm to success in Baku… only joking. Not even Stevie G can pull off a miracle of that magnitude. I’ll play it safe and go with perennial UEL winners SEVILLA.

Signing of the season: Tottenham’s capture of… wait… what? Oh. Oh my. Okay, in that case, I’ll go with ALISSON. The keeper will prove his distribution is as assured as his brilliant shot-stopping.

My team, Cambridge United, will… finish so aggressively mid-table that they may even break the league in two. My other team, Rangers, will close the gap on Celtic, win at least one Old Firm derby and snag the Bhoys’ Treble Treble by claiming one of the cups. All aboard the Steven Gerrard bandwagon – the Gers are on their way back.

Mark my words… the pressure on Premier League officials to implement VAR will prove all too much after a campaign riddled with refereeing mishaps. Ryan Sessegnon will be snapped up by a top six side in January amid fresh calls for his inclusion in Gareth Southgate’s England squad but the most exciting home-grown prospect will break through down the road at Chelsea. Callum Hudson-Odoi, remember the name.

Lionel Messi’s FC Barcelona are expected to retain the Spanish title.

Brett Sinclair, Warehouse Manager

Premier League winners: MANCHESTER CITY‘s very talented squad will cruise to the title if they stay fit.
2nd – Tottenham Hotspur 3rd – Liverpool 4th – Chelsea
Relegated: Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town and Fulham
Golden Boot: This is tough one with some of the world’s best footballers playing in the league this season but I hope PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG’s pace gets the service it deserves.

Serie A winners: I expect great things from JUVENTUS after the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo. Juve will be closely followed by Napoli.
La Liga winners: FC BARCELONA take the title with Real Madrid not too far behind.
Bundesliga winners: No-one will come close to BAYERN MUNICH as they glide to victory.

UEFA Champions League winners: JUVENTUS will push through. For their sake, I hope the officials are more switched on this season.
UEFA Europa League winners: CHELSEA will focus on winning this.

Signing of the season: FELIPE ANDERSON will do great things for West Ham United.

My team, Leicester City, will… finish fifth this season. There’s not much else they can do. It would be great to see a repeat of their title-winning exploits in 2015-16 but it’s best to be realistic.

Mark my words… Arsenal will not lift a trophy this season or finish in the top five. Sorry to all the Gunners out there.

Paul Pogba is now a world champion – can he shine at Old Trafford?

Daryl Angel, Head of Customer Support

Premier League winners: MANCHESTER UNITED
2nd – Liverpool 3rd – Manchester City 4th – Arsenal
Relegated: Southampton, Cardiff City and Brighton and Hove Albion
Golden Boot: ROMELU LUKAKU shares the honour with HARRY KANE.

Serie A winners: I would love to see one of the Milan sides back on top but I don’t think it’s possible after CR7‘s move to JUVENTUS.
La Liga winners: FC BARCELONA, no doubt about this.
Bundesliga winners: I would love to see BAYERN MUNICH toppled but I don’t think anyone has the squad to do so.

UEFA Champions League winners: MANCHESTER UNITED will face JUVENTUS in the final with Paul Pogba scoring the winner… but for whom I don’t know yet.
UEFA Europa League winners: Having been knocked out of the UEFA Champions League at the group stages, PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN treat the UEFA Europa League as the most important trophy of the season.

Signing of the season: 35-year-old Lee Grant at Manchester United… or Jack Wilshere for West Ham United. JEAN MICHAEL SERI to Fulham could also be one of the coups of the summer.

My team, Manchester United, will… either win the league or crash and burn ten games into the season and sack Jose Mourinho before Christmas. I hope Mourinho’s third season curse is about to change.

Mark my words… everybody will see that £70million for Allison is ridiculous and Liverpool fans will be singing for the return of Loris Karius by Christmas. Rangers will finally challenge Celtic in the SPL. Paul Pogba will either become Manchester United club captain or be gone by this time next year.


So, that’s what we think will go down during this season’s campaign. But what do you think? Send us your predictions by getting in touch via our FacebookTwitter and Instagram pages!

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Football’s back! Six unmissable storylines to look out for in 2017-18

At last, it’s back! The real football has returned! From now until late May of next year, it’s non-stop, full-on, unadulterated football and we at Icons.com could not be more excited.

After all, this season has the potential to be bigger, better and more exciting than ever. And not just in England. Let’s not forget the thrills that await around the continent; in Spain, Germany, Italy and France, where the best footballers on the planet do battle in front of the biggest crowds for the right to claim the world’s most coveted prizes.

In fact, with so much going on around the world on the opening weekend of the season, you could be forgiven for not knowing where to start or what to look out for. Well, it’s lucky we’re here then, isn’t it? Here are six things you need to keep an eye on this season.

 

1. Bem-vindo Neymar Jr

So, it actually happened. With Neymar Jr’s switch from FC Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain for €222million, world football’s transfer record has been broken by a factor of two. Our office stopped in its tracks to watch – perhaps a little out of disbelief – as the mercurial Brazilian forward was presented in front of the world’s media last week. With a glitzy unveiling in front of a sell-out crowd days later, the Parc de Princes has had more than a little Hollywood about it over the past month.

This season the 25-year-old will surely set his sights not only on a sweep of the domestic titles on offer at his new club but also a shot at one or both of the two individual honours that would certify his superstar status: the Ballon D’or and FIFA’s The Best Award. Will the football gods also write a mouthwatering script that reunites him with Barça in the UEFA Champions League? It may be time to start warming those balls…

 

2. The main event

Speaking of the UEFA Champions League, this season’s race for club football’s most sought-after prize promises to be as thrilling as ever. Real Madrid made history at the end of last season as they became the first team to successfully defend their title but Zinedine Zidane and Cristiano Ronaldo aren’t quite content with just two-in-a-row. The Spanish champions have won the famous tournament in three of the last four years and they’ve developed a taste for success.

Meanwhile, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United are back, adding three previous winners and two of the competition’s most storied teams to the mix. Jurgen Klopp and Jose Mourinho have a great knack of inspiring magic on European nights but can the trophy really return to the North West as early as this season?

Not if the rest of Europe has something to say about it. A certain aforementioned Brazilian seems dead-set on making his mark at PSG but to get to Kiev they may have to return to the scene of last season’s most remarkable tie: Camp Nou. All this while Carlo Ancelotti plots Bayern Munich’s return to the European throne and Gianluigi Buffon prays for one last shot at the trophy that has always eluded him.

As an official UEFA licensee, Icons.com is the proud home of official UEFA Champions League signed memorabilia.

 

3. A six-horse race

The Premier League is getting stronger in competitive terms, there’s no doubt about that. Almost all of the world’s best managers are taking charge of talented, hungry and exciting teams in England’s topflight and that means the title could go almost anywhere.

In Manchester, Pep Guardiola is building an attack-minded team at City with the signing of Monaco’s Bernardo Silva to add to Sergio Aguero’s goals, while United have a new hitman in the form of Romelu Lukaku. Liverpool are still a side of pure pace up front and should be an entertaining watch considering their attacking prowess.

Meanwhile, in London, Antonio Conte has one of the world’s most exciting attacking midfielders in Eden Hazard and Mauricio Pochettino will just be happy that both Harry Kane and Dele Alli (see below) have gone the summer without their heads being turned. Arch-rivals Arsenal have satisfied the wishes of their fans with the purchase of Alexandre Lacazette and the retention of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil (at the time of writing, anyway). So, who exactly is supposed to be the frontrunner here?

Find out who we fancy to come out on top in our special 2017-18 season predictions blog.

 

4. Dele’s big year

The breakout season is history, the sophomore slump was nowhere to be seen. Now the most exciting young talent at both Tottenham Hotspur and England can stretch his legs and really show us what he’s got. Gunning for a hat-trick of PFA Young Player of the Year awards – and perhaps the main gong too – Dele Alli faces a season of much promise.

Playing in front of potentially 90,000 fans at Spurs’ temporary home of Wembley Stadium won’t faze the England regular, nor will the prospect of a second season in the UEFA Champions League group stages. In fact, knowing the boy-wonder personally from our signing sessions, we’re not sure exactly what could faze him, if anything. Here is a confident 21-year-old who has the world at his feet. Which reminds us, isn’t there some sort of big international tournament coming soon?

We are immensely proud to have an official contract with Tottenham and England sensation Dele Alli. For exclusive signed products, visit Icons.com today.

 

5. All the world’s a stage

Ah, yes, the FIFA World Cup. Next summer sees the return of the biggest football tournament on the planet and with potentially one last chance at winning that most coveted trophy, the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will be desperate to deliver glory to their respective countries. Neymar Jr, Philippe Coutinho, Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmann and Dele Alli will be among the young but established stars hoping to capture the world’s attention and with the talent on offer it promises to be a tournament full of drama.

Whisper it but England look to be stronger than in recent years with Wayne Rooney surely determined to bow out of international football on a high alongside a stellar mix of young and experienced players mostly plying their trade in the Premier League.

Capture the spirit and excitement of the FIFA World Cup with officially-licensed FIFA World Cup signed memorabilia, exclusive to Icons.com.

 

6. La Liga’s on a knife-edge

Madridistas could be forgiven for still being a little hungover when their domestic season starts with a Supercopa Clasico on Sunday evening. Last season, Real won their first league title since 2012 and became the first team in history to retain the UEFA Champions League. Their supremacy is currently unquestioned but this season their hated rivals will want revenge.

Lionel Messi’s ultra dramatic, last-gasp winner in the sides’ pulsating encounter at the Bernabeu merely fanned the flames that could well spark all-out war this term. Barça haven’t experienced for years the upheaval they’ve suffered over the past few months with Neymar Jr gone and now a new man at the helm. Who knows how Ernesto Valverde plans to stop the Zidane juggernaut?

 

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We’re Back! The Icons.com 2015-16 Season Preview

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 24:  John Terry of Chelsea celebrates with the trophy after the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Sunderland at Stamford Bridge on May 24, 2015 in London, England. Chelsea were crowned Premier League champions.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND – MAY 24: John Terry of Chelsea celebrates with the trophy after the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Sunderland at Stamford Bridge on May 24, 2015 in London, England. Chelsea were crowned Premier League champions. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Ladies and gentlemen, we did it. We got through the summer break. It was tough, sure, but it’s over now. You can put down those barbeque tongs, stick the sun lounger back in the shed and forget all about that fence you probably weren’t going to paint anyway. Because this weekend, in stadiums across the country and around Europe, the football – the proper football – returns. And this season, like almost every season before it, threatens to be one of unmissable drama.

With Premier League legends Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba and Robin van Persie all parting ways with the English topflight, there’s never been a better time for new icons to emerge and big summer moves aplenty at the Etihad, Old Trafford and Anfield mean there are no shortage of fresh faces among the familiar stars.

At Stamford Bridge, Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea – with leading lights in Eden Hazard, Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas – bid to become the first team since 2009 to defend their Premier League crown. But they face a strong challenge from a reinvigorated Arsenal, perennial contenders Man City and a much-strengthened Man United, who have added over £83million of talent over the summer.

Meanwhile, a Gerrard-less Liverpool have flashed their cash and captured Christian Benteke, Roberto Firmino and Nathaniel Clyne, among others, while Tottenham will be hoping for more of the same from frontman Harry Kane, who emerged as one of English football’s most exciting young strikers following a frenzy of goals last term.

Newly promoted Watford return to the topflight after an eight year exile while Norwich City look promising after their swift return and there’s more than a sense of intrigue about Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth, who were excellent as they romped to the Championship title.

On the continent, there’s more glory expected for Barcelona, led by the irresistible and seemingly unstoppable ‘MSN’ trio of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar. As ever, Luis Enrique’s side will need to see off Clasico rivals Real Madrid but with Cristiano Ronaldo, James Rodriguez and Gareth Bale at his disposal, new boss Rafa Benitez must feel confident of a strong challenge.

BERLIN, GERMANY - JUNE 06:  (L-R) Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi and Neymar of Barcelona celebrate with the trophy after the UEFA Champions League Final between Juventus and FC Barcelona at Olympiastadion on June 6, 2015 in Berlin, Germany.  (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

BERLIN, GERMANY – JUNE 06: (L-R) Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi and Neymar of Barcelona celebrate with the trophy after the UEFA Champions League Final between Juventus and FC Barcelona at Olympiastadion on June 6, 2015 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

The German title race, as in France and Italy, is decidedly less open. With the additions of Arturo Vidal and Douglas Costa, Bayern will be incredibly hard to catch, though Kevin de Bruyne’s Wolfsburg and Dortmund – with hipsters’ choice Thomas Tuchel taking over from former hipsters’ choice Jurgen Klopp – will try their level best to keep up.

Paris Saint-Germain look certain to retain their Ligue 1 crown, as Angel Di Maria joins Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edinson Cavani and David Luiz – a deep run into the latter stages of the Champions League is the aim.

Juventus will start clear favourites in Italy but the Old Lady has lost some of her favourite sons over the summer with Andrea Pirlo, Carlos Tevez and Vidal heading away to varying corners of Planet Football. Rudi Garcia’s Roma have been improving season-on-season and could challenge Juve’s dominance should their squad stay healthy throughout the season.

Beside the Premier League, we should look then to the Champions League for competitiveness, where any number of around five or six teams could feasibly triumph. Though MSN make Barcelona the hot favourites, a lack of domestic challenge could help the likes of Bayern, Juventus and PSG, who’ll each be looking to improve on the continent. Whoever wins, we’re doubtless in for a treat as the best in the world vie for the ultimate prize.