UEFA Champions League 2017/18: 5 things to look forward to as the competition restarts
While we’re still almost five weeks away from the opening day of the Premier League, the UEFA Champions League has – admittedly quietly – already begun, with the first qualifying matches, involving sides like Linfield and FCI Tallinn taking place last week.
Admittedly, we’re some time away from the point that most consider the ‘opening round’ of the tournament – the group stages – as the draw for said stage doesn’t actually happen until August 24th, but even so – we know the majority of the biggest teams that’ll be involved and it’s quite easy to predict the major players who might be there towards the end.
The Champions League is easily the premier club competition in the world, and at this early stage, here are five things to look forward to before it begins again.
#1 Can Real Madrid three-peat?
Since the beginning of the Champions League era back in 1992/93, there have been 13 different winners. Real Madrid are the most successful side, having won the tournament five times, one more than rivals Barcelona, and in June they became the first team to retain the trophy since AC Milan in 1989/90 prior to the change in format.
The big question going into 2017/18 then is can Real retain the trophy again and become the first side in the modern era to win three Champions League trophies in a row? It’s a tricky one to answer. The odds are clearly against them given it took 25 years for a team to retain, and of course, all of Europe’s biggest clubs are now snapping at their heels. But if anyone can do it, it’s Zinedine Zidane’s team of Galacticos.
They might be losing James Rodriguez and Alvaro Morata this summer, sure, but they still have Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Toni Kroos, Isco, Luka Modric, Sergio Ramos, and so on, and that isn’t even scratching the surface really given they traditionally splurge on at least one mega-money transfer – possibly someone like David de Gea or Kylian Mbappe.
History might point against Real Madrid making the final next May in Kiev, but with their history and current form, it’s almost difficult to bet against them.