Champions League 2018/19: Real Madrid and Barcelona dominance to end?
The Champions League is considered the top prize in club competition. For many players, it is a greater achievement than lifting the World Cup, as some of the top players from different leagues lock horns and the competition becomes even more interesting when it goes to the final stages.
The Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona swept up the past five Champions Leagues, with Real Madrid winning a record-breaking three Champions League titles in a row. Considering how difficult the competition is to win even once, winning three straight titles is a great achievement.
Spanish dominance is clearly evident in recent years, but it may change in the next season, as the competition is going to be more competitive with every league is becoming stronger.
Ronaldo's departure and Iniesta's retirement
The main reason for the Spanish dominance is that two of the most successful players are in the same league, playing some amazing football, breaking all the records and winning the top prize, the Ballon d'Or, in the process. This has iterated an interest in every upcoming star to be like one of them and it is a dream to play along with them. Due to this, the clubs became even stronger, which made it more difficult for the other teams to catch them.
Now Ronaldo has departed in a shock move to Juventus, which has been a boom to the Italian League as the two-time finalists in the last four years may come one step closer to clinching the coveted prize. The Champions League's all-time top scorer would try to emulate his magic in Italy as well.
Barcelona was weakened by the departure of Neymar, who no doubt has the skill to succeed Messi. However, they don't possess midfield magicians like Xavi and Iniesta anymore who are two of the gems in their glittering Eden.
Of course, Barca has signed midfielder Arthur who has the capability to control the ball in midfield and he has great skills. However, he is not yet a finished product and Real might go on spending big to replace Ronaldo as rumors suggest they are looking for Belgium star Eden Hazard who definitely is a creative player. Regardless, Ronaldo's goal-scoring is irreplaceable for the moment.
This made the super strong teams weakened a bit and it will make the Champions League more interesting.
The Premier League is becoming stronger.
Premier League teams play a defensive style of football and their games possess more physicality rather than tactical nous, which is not true anymore. The induction of Barca's own tiki-taka and their successful manager Pep Guardiola into the Premier League by Manchester City changed the dynamics and perceptions of the Premier League.
That is clearly evident as they played attacking and free-flowing football, breaking the Premier League record by scoring 106 goals in the 2017-18 season. They are one of the teams who will try to dethrone the Spanish reign in the Champions League this season.
The situation is similar in Liverpool, whose manager doesn't bother about breaking the conventional Premier League style. He induced his charisma and dynamism to the team as they became masters in scoring goals at any moment they want with a blistering pace and counter-attack.
The brilliant attacking partnership with Mane-Firmino-Salah whom Liverpool fans consider holy trinity can score at any second. In addition to this, they had a super successful transfer window and covered every weakness which they had in the previous season. They finished runners-up to Real Madrid and everybody knows which team has improved since then.
The Premier League stars had a great World Cup, particularly for players like Hazard, Lukaku, De Bruyne, Harry Kane, Pogba, Kante. This is the reason to cheer and hope the stars can show their class to bring the Champions League back to the Premier League.
The other team who consistently performs at the top level every year is Bayern Munich. They are always going to challenge any team in the world, and it is so harsh that in football the stats lie about originality, they should have more titles than they actually had in recent years.
Here comes the modern team PSG, with two of the future Ballon d'Or contenders in the team. The owners weren't afraid to splash any kind of money to bring talented players to the city of love. With Neymar and Mbappe and Cavani, OMG!
What an attacking line up they have. Why can't they win the prize this time? They were defeated by the eventual champions last season and who has improved since then? No doubt, its PSG and this term they can go much farther than what they have achieved in the last term.
Finally, this season is going to be more exciting for football fans across the globe. No doubt Real Madrid and Barcelona are favourites any time, but the other teams are not far either and are making a tremendous advance in every aspect which will bring us back to olden days where every League has at least one superstar and the clash of them is a pleasure to watch.
Published 20 Jul 2018, 09:32 IST