When Cristiano Ronaldo left Real Madrid in the summer of 2018, the whole football world stood up to take notice.
Ronaldo helped Real Madrid win the last THREE editions of the UEFA Champions League – when no club had previously won two in a row.With his goal scoring prowess, Real set a new standard for how a team can dominate in Europe.But now he is at Juventus and Real did not sign a replacement. It means the Champions League is wide open for the first time in four years.
Juventus Desperate for Glory
The signing of Ronaldo by Italian giants Juventus was done with one goal in mind. They did not buy him to win their domestic league, as they have already won the previous seven.
Ronaldo was bought to help Juventus win the one trophy that has eluded them for the past 20+ years – the Champions League. They see him as the final piece in the team that can conquer Europe.
But they are not the only side with eyes on Europe’s top prize.
Manchester City and PSG Aim to Break Their Duck
Both Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain have similar aspirations. They are nouveau riche clubs with designs on Europe’s top prize – a competition neither has ever won.
City will hope they can translate last season’s Premier League success to Europe, while PSG appointed a new boss in the hopes that he can get more out of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and the team’s other stars.
Is It Messi’s Turn to Shine Again?
With all the talk around Real Madrid, Juventus and Cristiano Ronaldo, it can feel as though everyone has forgotten about Lionel Messi. His disappointing World Cup did not help.
But Messi is still a world class footballer in a great team. Barcelona bought well in the summer, adding the experienced Arturo Vidal to the midfield from Bayern Munich. They have designs on getting Messi another Champions League before he calls it a day!
Who Else Will Contend?
Aside from those four favorites, there are other teams that also have their eyes on the biggest prize in club football. The likes of Bayern Munich, Liverpool and Atletico Madrid possess squads that are good enough to go all the way.
The luck of the draw can make a huge difference in the Champions League. A team such as Liverpool or Atletico could reach the final if they get a kind enough draw. Bayern will be hoping injuries are kinder to their players, compared to last season.
“Only one thing is certain in this season’s UEFA Champions League – uncertainty. There are so many variables to consider when predicting a favorite.” says Damien Quan of financial services firm Sambla.fi.
How will Real perform in the post-Ronaldo era? Will the Portuguese talisman replicate his form at Juventus this season? Will City or PSG finally go the distance and claim the trophy they have spent so much money attempting to win?
Some may have found Real winning three Champions League titles in a row boring. The competition was becoming predictable. But Ronaldo leaving Real has changed everything – opening the door for any top team to go all the way in 2019!