March of the Champions
The UEFA Champions League is an annual club football competition organized by the Union of European Football Associations and contested by top-division European clubs. This league is played every year across Europe to find a new champion at the end of the season. Real Madrid has set a new record this year when they lifted the trophy for the third time in a row.
There are some serious contenders for Europe’s elite prize this season, some that have made high-profile signings and others that have made little tweaks. This season has a lot of drama to unfold and we may witness a new heir to the European throne.
While the defending champions have looked vulnerable since the beginning of the campaign, other heavyweights like Manchester United and Bayern Munich have also failed to impress. Now, we will be looking at some new teams that can lift the trophy for the first time in their history.
#3 Paris Saint-Germain
PSG can destroy any defense on their day
The French champions have all their 13 league games but have found themselves in a tricky champions league group. Along with Liverpool and Napoli, this group of death has some interesting fixtures in the second round.
But PSG certainly has all the firepower to come out on top. The only thing on their mind is winning this competition. It’s why they have heavily invested in top players like Neymar and Kylian Mbappe. Anything short of that will feel like a failure again like last year.
This year they haven’t made any major signings. Gianluigi Buffon has arrived to offer some experience and leadership as well as his undoubted quality. With lessons learned in the last two seasons and with world-class players like Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, PSG continues to be one of the competition’s favorites.
PSG’s strength lies in their attack, the front trio of Neymar, Mbappe, and Cavani has already scored 29 goals in the Ligue 1. Their defensive woes must not continue under Thomas Tuchel if they want to taste the European glory.
Great teams and great players rise to the occasion. And, until now, neither the team or its stars have been able to do so. Thomas Tuchel must correct this if he wants to write a new chapter in the French club’s history.
#2 Atletico Madrid
Simeone and co can bring the much-awaited trophy home
Atletico Madrid is big contenders who have a rock solid defense and threaten on counter-attacking football. Diego Simeone is the most passionate manager you will ever come across and he has a point to prove this season. The club has recruited well and added extra support to Antoine Griezmann with the signings of Thomas Lemar, Rodrigo and Gelson Martins.
The La Liga side won the Europa League last season and will be looking to push on for Champions League success – having finished as runners-up in the competition to none other than local rivals Real Madrid on two occasions, in 2014 and 2016.
Atletico has a world-class defense which can close out any threat from the opposition and likes of Saul, Koke, Thomas form a tight midfield to manipulate the ball easily. In the knock-out stage, very few teams can be as good as Simeone’s men. While Diego Costa and Griezmann look to press higher on the field and pounce on goal-scoring opportunities.
It was precisely their style that caught them out last season. It will be interesting to see if they are affected psychologically by their past failures and whether they can restore their winning mentality.
With the arrival of new quality signings and fall of their bitter rivals, this may be their year.
#1 Manchester City
Man City are flying high this season
Manchester City has transformed this beautiful game of football in their own style. Pep Guardiola has introduced this team with his philosophy of newer version of tiki-taka, which has seen them improve tremendously. The simple one-two-one passing and movement can be really difficult for the opposition to cope up with. The city thrives on two things – Time and Space.
Guardiola has experience winning the trophy with Barcelona and will be eager to repeat the success with the Citizens – as the European Cup is the one major trophy that has eluded the affluent Manchester side.
Pep Guardiola and Manchester City arguably play the best football in Europe, although they’ve not yet been able to show this in the Champions League. The next step for them is to transfer their success from the Premier League to the Champions League and, with the addition of Riyad Mahrez and a coach that continues to revolutionize football, they have every chance.
The Spaniard has not yet forgotten his loss in the quarter-finals from their rivals, Liverpool and will be looking to bring the European glory to Manchester. The blues have already started this season on a high and are still unbeaten in all the competitions. The kind of dominating football that Pep’s men are playing, it will be no surprise that they can lift the title for the very first time.