Villaflor: European season begins

Of all the months since the pandemic began, July of this year seemed to go by the slowest.

That’s probably because a lot of things are happening all around, and, as far as football fans are concerned, this sensory overload -- particularly the exhilaration that the Copa America and Euro Championships brought about -- tends to make everything move to a crawl.

The next thing you know European club football restarts without warning, with the Bundesliga 2021-22 season kicking off on July 24.

But the German question remains: Who will stop Bayern Munich from winning its 10th straight Bundesliga title?

France’s Ligue 1 is second to open the curtains as the season starts early next month, on Aug. 8.

In case you missed it, a club not named Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) lifted the French trophy.

Lille Olympique Sporting Club were champions of a tight 2020-21 Ligue 1, putting to an end PSG’s three-season winning streak.

Expect PSG to reclaim the throne from Lille, with Monaco and Lyon trying to pull off surprises of their own.

The new La Liga Santander season, meanwhile, begins on Aug. 14: Does Atletico Madrid have what it takes to defend the title it won last season in incredible fashion?

Runners up Real Madrid and FC Barcelona are surely rebuilding right now to take back what the two giants see as rightfully theirs.

All eyes will be on free agent Lionel Messi: Will the best player in the world stay in Barca or not?

Also on Aug. 14, the English Premier League begins with special attention heaped on defending champions Manchester City, runaway winners ahead of Manchester United, Liverpool, current Champions League winners Chelsea and Leicester City.

Arguably, the Prem remains the most competitive league in Europe by the sheer number of title contenders, although questions will be asked whether two erstwhile contenders -- Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal -- will regain their mojo.

A week later, the Serie A is slated to kick off on Aug. 21 with defending champions Inter Milan leading the pack ahead of AC Milan, Atalanta and Juventus, which stars Cristiano Ronaldo, as title contenders.

The arrival of legendary manager Jose Mourinho at AS Roma, though, could turn the club into an Italian dark horse this season.

Overall, interest in the Serie A is bound to skyrocket after the national Italian side won the European Championship in a most unexpected but celebrated way.

Let the games begin.


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