Source: Real Madrid on Twitter
Real Madrid achieved a feat last season that no one thought any team in Europe could. Los Blancos won the Champions League two years in a row in the current format. Zinedine Zidane’s side were among the favourites when the 2016-17 Champions League campaign started, but went in with the knowledge of the so-called winners’ “curse”. After all, not since Italian giants AC Milan in 1989 and 1990 had a team managed to win the European Cup twice in a row.
However, Madrid deserved to win the Champions League last season, just as they deserved to win it in 2015-16. Los Blancos played well, got a bit of the rub of the green along the way, the big players stepped up – Cristiano Ronaldo was head and shoulders above the rest of the players in the competition in the knockout stages last season – Zidane’s tactics were spot on, and the fans were always on their side. It was as perfect a European Cup success as it could get.
Can Madrid do it again this season? Can the Spanish giants win the Champions League three years in a row? Most of the bookmakers, just like sportsbet, have placed Madrid as the favourites to win the world’s most premier and prestigious club competition. It is easy to understand why. With star players such as Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Isco, Karim Benzema and Sergio Ramos on top of their game, Zidane’s side will need some beating. While the likes of Pepe, James Rodriguez, Alvaro Morata and Danilo have left, the arrival of Dani Ceballos, Theo Hernandez and the emergence of Marco Asensio and Lucas Vazquez have strengthened Madrid.
Source: Real Madrid on Twitter
However, Madrid are not going to have a clear run at the Champions League title this season. A number of clubs in Europe will be determined to dethrone them. In fact, Los Blancos are likely to face more competition for the crown this season than they did during the 2016-17 campaign. Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Juventus will be Madrid’s three main challengers, but there will also be major threats from England as well as from France.
Manchester City have been building a squad to win the Champions League for years, and in Pep Guardiola’s second season as the manager at the Etihad Stadium, the Premier League giants will feel very confident. Manchester United have a very strong squad, and having guided the Red Devils to the Europa League title last season, manager Jose Mourinho will be keen on achieving success in the Champions League in 2017-18. Then there’s Chelsea. Antonio Conte’s side have some superb footballers such as Eden Hazard, Morata and N’Golo Kante, and the Blues will be a major contender for the title.
Paris Saint-Germain are also going to be a big threat to Madrid’s hopes and aspirations of winning the Champions League this season. The Ligue 1 giants have already made their intentions clear, having splashed as much as £200 million in the summer transfer window to sign Neymar from Barcelona. Of course, one single player cannot change everything for PSG, but the Brazil international forward is a world-class footballer who will be immensely motivated to guide the French club to the Champions League this season and win the FIFA Ballon d’Or next year.