Praise the Lord, it is back!
The world’s premier club competition is back for all to enjoy. 32 of Europe’s most elite clubs will battle out to be crowned the 2017/2018 Champions League winners.
After a trilling final to last year’s tournament, which saw Real Madrid retain the title by beating Juventus 4-1 in Cardiff, the other super powers of European football will look to dethrone Zinedine Zidane’s men.
With the likes of PSG, Manchester City and Manchester United spending colossal money on some of Europe’s brightest talents, the pressure will be on Emery, Guardiola and Mourinho to deliver on the biggest of stages. From now until the end of May, football fans all over the world will be treated to a feast of footballing quality from around Europe during the week. No rest for the wicked!
The reigning champions!
Real Madrid are the first team in the professional era to successfully defend their Champions League crown.
A brace from the soon to be 5-time Ballon d’Or winner, Cristiano Ronaldo along with strikes from Casemiro and Asensio propelled Zidane and Co. to glory.
With Zidane using Ronaldo in a new central role, goals were not hard to come by. A hat-trick in the quarter-finals against Bayern Munich was followed up by another hat-trick in the semi-finals against bitter city rivals, Atletico Madrid. He is a phenomenal goal scoring machine with incredible dedication to keeping his fitness at the highest level.
Zidane has built a quite outstanding team with the attacking flair of Ronaldo, Bale and Asensio backed up with the steel of Casemiro, Kroos and Carvajal. In most realist minds, they have to be favourites to retain the coveted “Big Ears” trophy for the third time in as many years.
The forgotten three return!
Strange to think that three of England’s biggest names did not compete in the group stages of the UCL last year.
Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool all missed out on the 2016/2017 Champions League due to poor domestic form.
Between them, they have won the European Cup nine times, so for a season to go by and not hear of those famous teams in this famous old competition was quite strange. Chelsea return as Champions of England with Antonio Conte settling the ship after the Mourinho storm unsettled Hazard and many of his team mates.
After a strange transfer window which saw Nemanja Matic head to Manchester United and the fact that Diego Costa still remains in Brazil after his self-imposed exile, Chelsea still boast a strong squad capable of completing on all four fronts.
With the addition of their new £70M Spanish striker, Alvaro Morata, the former Real Madrid frontman is a lethal striker with a deadly eye for goal. Manchester United qualified for the UCL by winning the Europa League despite finishing 6th in the league last year. The addition of the aforementioned Matic and their club record signing, Romelu Lukaku from Everton has added the necessary steel, strength and goals that lacked for Mourinho’s men last year.
This United team is finally turning into a typical Jose Mourinho team.
It has always been the second season in which Mourinho has had success. Expect no different this time round. This side looks athletic and powerful all of which are characteristics of a successful Mourinho side. Liverpool have Klopp and the exploits of a certain Philippe Coutinho to thank for a good campaign which saw them eventually finish 4th last year. Keeping hold of Coutinho was Liverpool’s best bit of business over the summer months as Barcelona came calling with three staggering bids but alas Liverpool held firm. The little Brazilian made it very clear that he wanted to move to the Camp Nou, but now he must re-integrate back into Melwood.
However, the fact that Jürgen Klopp didn’t reinforce his back-line, in particular a centre-back, makes one think that they will struggle against the top teams, as seen with their 5-0 hammering away to Manchester City at the weekend. What they have do it exceptional pace going forward. New signing Mohamed Salah, Mane, Firmino, Coutinho and Sturridge are all extremely rapid and will trouble the best of teams on the counter attack.
Like the Liverpool of three years ago, they will bank on their attack bailing their defence out as they are surely to mess up many times throughout this campaign.