Real Madrid were crowned European champions for a record 12th time on Saturday night as Zinedine Zidane’s side ran riot against Juventus. After a slow start, Los Blancos were in total control of the contest and it wasn’t a huge surprise to see the Spanish giants bag a few goals in the process.
Attention has already turned to next season’s competition and Real will fancy their chances of more Champions League glory in 2018. At 4/1, they represent decent value but Europe’s elite sides will be gunning for the crown. I took a (far too early) look at a few of the leading contenders ahead of the new campaign.
With Cristiano Ronaldo in the form of his life, you wouldn’t bet against Real defending their crown once again next season. On paper, Madrid boast one of the strongest squads in the world and Zidane knows that two or three additions in the transfer window will help to keep players on their toes.
Strengthening is crucial and Real will almost certainly do that. Buying for the sake of buying can be counter-productive but Los Blancos have an excellent scouting network and Madrid should return stronger ahead of the new campaign. Without a shadow of a doubt, Real are the team to beat...
Expect Pep Guardiola’s side to fly the flag for England. Neither Chelsea nor Liverpool have the strength in depth to compete with Europe’s top sides whilst Manchester United and Tottenham may choose to prioritise the Premier League. Pep doesn’t have that luxury; City need to challenge on multiple fronts.
Defensively, the Blues are a shambles and Guardiola must focus on tightening things up at the back if City are to compete with the best teams in the business. In attack, they can go toe to toe with anyone and Guardiola will be quietly confident of leading City to a maiden Champions League trophy in the near future...
When Paris Saint-Germain thrashed Barcelona 4-0 in the first leg of the last-16, everybody thought it was their year. However, one of the biggest chokes in European history followed in the second leg as the La Liga side advanced to the next round, leaving Unai Emery to ponder what went wrong.
The French outfit are solid but regaining the Ligue 1 crown may be Emery’s main objective ahead of next season. Paris have a passionate and supportive fan base but they do expect success and pipping Monaco and co to the domestic title will be the first port of call. A run to the Champions League quarter-finals would be a bonus...
Antoine Griezmann has announced that he will stay and that should give Atletico a much needed boost after a disappointing campaign. The Spanish giants struggled to get involved in the title race this year but did manage to reach the Champions League semi-finals for the third time in four seasons.
Diego Simeone’s men could do with freshening up their squad before the summer transfer window slams shut and Lyon striker Alexandre Lacazette would give Atletico a new option in attack. As the move away from the Vicente Calderon draws closer, Atletico may consider a marquee arrival to inspire and boost morale on the terraces...
Carlo Ancelotti hasn’t enjoyed the best of starts to life at the Allianz Arena but Bayern are still by far and away the strongest side in Germany and the Bundesliga outfit are always in with a chance of European glory. In terms of strength in depth, Munich are up there with the stoutest teams on the planet and they will certainly be in the mix.
In Robert Lewandowski, they have a proven goal scorer for the big occasion and Bayern will rely on his goals in attack. But it isn’t all about one man. Ancelotti is blessed with a talented squad and every player on the pitch is capable of chipping in with a goal or two. Watch this space, Bayern will fancy their chances next season...