It is about to begin.
In about a month’s time.
September 18th, 2018, to be more precise.
The most prestigious Football Club Competition. Some people say the Carling Cup (renamed the Carabao Cup) is the most prestigious Club Competition, but that is a discussion for another time.
As prestigious as it (the Champions League) is, only one team has won it for the past three years – Real Madrid.
Going further back, only clubs representing one country has won if in the last four years – Barcelona once Real Madrid three times.
Going back to the last five years, Madrid has won it four times.
For all the prestige this competition offers, it seems Real Madrid (and Spain by extension) know how to navigate the Champions League waters, and to great effect.
So, what has changed from last season?
Firstly, the man who led Real Madrid to three consecutive Champions League trophies, Zinedine Zidane has resigned.
Then, Juan Lopetegui, the man who was supposed to lead Spain to the World Cup, signed as coach for Real Madrid some days before the World Cup started without informing the Spanish FA. We all remember the drama that followed.
Then, the highest goal scorer in the competition- and last season as well- Cristiano Ronaldo has left Real Madrid and signed for Juventus, who has played in two of the last four finals, and lost both.
With all that has happened for Madrid the over the past three months, one cannot help but feel that the pendulum has swung against them just a little bit. But, then again, you can never rule them out.
Juventus, as earlier mentioned, has Ronaldo now and look equipped to go for the trophy again. Gianluigi Buffon has also left (Buffon signed for Paris St German). Emre Can has also signed for them.
Barcelona has strengthened in certain areas of the pitch, and have decided to look outward, rather than use graduates of the La Masia Academy. Andres Iniesta (a club legend) has also left.
Atletico Madrid cannot also be ruled out, especially considering the fact that the core of the team still remains and Griezmann, one of the first names on the team sheet has clearly stated tha he is not going anywhere.
Bayern Munich has fallen short of the finals recently. They currently have a new manager and signed Serge Gnabry earlier in the year.
Manchester City has also made some quality additions and would be hopeful to go far this year as well.
Manchester United and Tottenham look like they will fall short at the first hurdle. Or they could shock everyone. Such is the beauty of the game. It is also ironic that Manchester United is looked at as an underdog these days.
Liverpool would like to go one step further than they did at the last competition. That’s probably why they’ve made an expensive signing with a goalkeeper to start with.
Paris St German would have to do better, with a fit Neymar and Mbappe just having a great World Cup.
So, will a new name be inscribed on the cup this coming season?
We would just have to wait and see…
By Motunrayo Abiodun