The final round of group stage matches in Champions League football is over and the competition has heated up in Europe with 16 teams proceeding to the knockout stage of the cup.
We will analyse the top three contenders to win the trophy this season based on their performance until now.
1) FC Barcelona
The Spanish club has been considered one of the favourites to win the trophy this season like every year simply because of the mix of young and experienced talent present in the team.
Moreover, the presence of the greatest player of all time – Lionel Messi – in the club makes it far easier for Barcelona to create chances, score free-kicks, curl the balls and dribble past the entire opposing team to score the goal.
The league leaders in Spain have shown strong performances even in the Champions League with the Catalan club having won four out of six matches in the group stage, drawing the other two.
The team has a second highest tally of 117 shots fired, behind only the 120 shots of Real Madrid. The team also scored 14 goals in all matches in the group stage which demonstrated the form they are in this season.
Players like Ousmane Dembele, Philippe Coutinho, Malcom have been highly promising this season and the Champions League experience of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Sergi Busquets, Ivan Rakitic, Jordi Alba, Gerard Pique provide them a significant chance to secure the trophy.
The sole concern for Barcelona will comprise the defending department where the team needs to improve if they want to be up against this fierce competition in Europe. If Barcelona could overcome their quarter-final curse in the Champions League and show some strength in the away games, it’s a fantastic opportunity for them to get another treble.
Juventus has inevitably been a specialist in the Champions League football with the Italian club having played two finals – in the 2015 and 2017 seasons – but losing both against Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively.
The team received a massive boost this season with the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo from Madrid. The Portuguese man has been in great form this season having scored 12 goals in Serie A to sit second on the overall list. Though he has been quiet in the Champions League until now, his past record shows that he has always silenced his critics in the knockout stages of the cup.
Juventus might not have performed to the expectations with four wins and two losses in the group stage but the club can turn over the form with the likes of Ronaldo, Paulo Dybala, Mandzukic, Douglas Costa, Alex Sandro, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini in the team.
Juve will definitely miss their longtime legend Gianluigi Buffon in the goalkeeper position but looking at the stats in the home league – and the recent record of the club in the Champions League – they can surely get the glory in the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid where the finals will be played this season.
3) Manchester City
It might be against some picks to include Manchester City in the top three but Pep Guardiola’s team has been playing the most creative football in the last two seasons. The team is doing well in all its departments and witnessing the pace, passing, pressing, tackling, long passes, through balls, it’s difficult to not include the English team in the contenders’ list.
The team has performed decently in the group stage having won four matches, drawn one and lost one. The team also has scored 16 goals in all matches, next to 17 goals of the PSG club. City also fired 111 shots in total, ranking third in the list after Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Manchester City might not have won any Champions League trophy until now but the domination they have shown in the English League can encourage them to bear the form in other competitions too.
Pep and the team will be merely hoping that they don’t face their home league rivals and current table leaders Liverpool who have outplayed them in their every meeting in the English League and previous year’s Champions League.