One of the greatest football shows on the earth is just around the corner. The Champions League is back with 32 teams fighting it out against each other for the much coveted trophy. Last year it was an all German affair at the Wembley stadium with Bayern Munich edging past Borussia Dortmund to be crowned as the European champions, courtesy a late strike from Arjen Robben. However, the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona who were over turned by the Germans last time around will be determined to make a statement and prove their worth. We take a look at some of the teams who have the potential to lay their hands on the UEFA Champions League this season.
On papers definitely the strongest team of the tournament. The German champions are almost a complete new outfit this season with Pep Guardiola stepping into the role of treble winning manager Jupp Heynckes and has had a mixed season so far with some questions have been raised regarding his deployment of a rather bizarre 4-1-4-1 to which Bayern are relatively new. However the ex-Barcelona manager has already tasted Champions League success twice with the Catalan club and has no shortage of experience at the highest level of football. Munich have also made their squad stronger with the inclusion of Thiago Alcantara from Barcelona and Mario Gotze from Borussia. Bayern Munich are the favourites to repeat their feat this season and now all rests on Pep’s shoulder to win it for them.
When a team boasts of a forward line comprising of Ronaldo and Bale, one just cannot write them off. The costliest team in the world, Real have all the ingredients in them to march on and win the UCL. A depth in squad paralleled by none, they have match winners for them playing at every position. Their only problem may be the lack of a reliable full-backs which has left them short in numbers on the defensive side of the game.
Looking at the attacking options, midfielder Isco, who had a wonderful season at Malaga last season, has been added, likewise Asier Illarramendi, the holding midfielder, and Dani Carvajal, the adventurous right-back. Carlo Ancelotti is a seasoned manager and is capable of guiding a team towards UCL glory, making them one of the biggest threats in the competition this season.
Messi in the centre and Neymar on the left side, this is enough to send shivers down the spines of the opponents. This apart, the trusted lieutenants like Iniesta and Xavi make this Barcelona team a constant threat. It is true that they have not performed to their true potential last time, exiting from the competition in the most unceremonious way conceding seven to Bayern, but things may take a complete U turn this season. But Barcelona have to overcome two major weaknesses if they are to win the UCL this time. Firstly, they have to get the best out of their wafer thin defence line which was troubled regularly by many oppositions last term and then their manager, Gerardo Martino, must step above his inexperience at European football and rise upto the occasion.
In every list there is an underdog, rising above all turmoil to win the hearts of millions. Dortmund have been doing that for quite sometime now, gaining the support of many a neutral fans across the world. Three seasons ago the club was almost on the verge of being extinct owing to huge debts and now they have a Bundesliga title and a runner up tag in the UCL 20112-13. A very well balanced team, Dortmund’s star is their manager Klopp, who nurtures the players like his own children. Although Mario Gotze have already left the club and Lewandowksi has given notice to leave the club after this season, Klopp has managed to find young talents like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. All neutral football fans would certainly root for this team from Germany.
The only English team who have any realistic chances to emerge as the champions, Chelsea will bank upon its star manager Jose Mourinho who has returned to the club after stints in Spain and Italy. The Portuguese manager will be hoping to repeat his feat and guide his team to glory. But his main obstacle will be, Chelsea not having an in form striker with Fernando Torress, Demba Ba and new recruit Samuel Eto’o all misfiring. It will be difficult for Chelsea to win this tournament, but not an impossible task with the Special One at the helm of things.