The biggest competition in club football, the UEFA Champions League, is right at the door! The final of the 2011 tournament was the most-watched UEFA final to date, as well as the most watched annual sporting event worldwide that year, drawing 178.7 million television viewers. As the Champions League begins, we analyse the major contenders for lifting this famous silverware:
Being the most successful club in the competition’s history with nine triumphs, including the first five seasons it was contested, I list Real Madrid on top of the list of contenders.
No doubt, Real Madrid have started with unsatisfying results in the Spanish League, and have let Barcelona go eight points clear after four league games. Also, Cristiano Ronaldo describing himself ‘sad’ at Real Madrid is a sign of worry for the La Liga giants. However, they proved their capability earlier in the season when they beat Barcelona in the Supercopa de España, and will be one of the favourites for the title.
Real’s perennial domestic rivals Barcelona have a current line-up that is considered as one of the strongest in club football. Having numerous world-class players, FC Barcelona has started their season strongly, and are eight points clear in the La Liga. Last season, Barcelona faced a surprise exit in the Champions League semifinals against a 10-man Chelsea in the second leg at Camp Nou. They however will be looking to go a couple of steps further this time around.
The most popular club on the planet, Manchester United FC haven’t been at their best in the Champions League. Under Sir Alex Ferguson, United has won two Champions League titles, first in their famous 1999 final at Barcelona against Bayern Munich and then over Chelsea in Moscow in 2008. However, Manchester United were knocked out from the Champions League in the group stages last season and will be desperate to do better this time around. They will be boosted by the signings of Robin van Persie, Shinji Kagawa, Alexander Buttner and Nick Powell and will be looking to claim their fourth title.
Winning the Champions League for the fist time in history is one thing, and defending it, is indeed, another. Chelsea, leading the Premier League currently, will be missing their star striker Didier Drogba, who had a huge hand in their first ever European triumph.
FC Bayern Munich:
The German giants finished runner-ups last season after losing to Chelsea FC on their own home ground. World-class signing Javi Martinez has, however, made the Bayern Munich line-up much stronger than the previous season, and will be definitely helpful in the coming season.
The ‘PSG Project’ has attracted a lot of players including Lucas Moura, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva. The French club has revolutionized the transfer market by signing stunning world-class players for an extraordinary value. PSG are on their way to the top of European football’s ladder.
Not to be forgotten, there are some clubs that are under-rated but could make a big mark. Manchester City, who won the Premier League last season in the most dramatic way could be contenders for the title. However, Roberto Mancini himself admitted that European success is far away for the side. AC Milan and German champions Borussia Dortmund have weakened their respective line-ups by selling their star players. On the other hand, Benfica FC and Juventus are expected to shine this season in the Champions League.
The UEFA Champions League is set to begin. Bringing quality Football that shouldn’t be missed! Its always a dream come true for every club and its fans to win the Champions League.
So which club is it gonna be this season?