It’s one of the most enthralling sporting events in the world. Watched in over 200 countries by an audience of around 165 million. And it’s back. It’s here again.
The Champions League is upon us once more and here is your sports 101 guide.
Soccer’s most prestigious prize is well underway pitting Europe’s finest teams against each other, and we’ve already seen some magnificent games, goals and performances as teams battle it out to walk down the tunnel in the Olympiastadion, Berlin, on June 6.
Last time out Real Madrid lifted the trophy after a dramatic late comeback to make history and lift their 10th European crown.
And they’ve got off to a good start yet again. Carlo Ancelotti’s men have an unblemished record in the Champion’s League so far this season with three wins out of three, beating Liverpool 3-0 away at Anfield last week putting them one foot into the next round.
Alongside an also unbeaten Bayern Munich, the Spanish giants are favorites and when you put their stats up against the rest of Europe, it’s hardly surprising. The additions of Colombian World Cup starlet James Rodriguez and Toni Kroos have significantly strengthened their squad, and looking at current Champions League odds, it’s clear to see they are one of the most feared sides in the competition.
It of course may not necessarily go with the favorites. The likes of Chelsea, Barcelona, and Dortmund have all started the competition well and have gone the distance in the last few years. In the past few years all three have made it to the final of the competition and will be vying for that spot again.
The German clubs will likely be most desperate to reach the final, with just a short trip to Berlin, particularly Dortmund after missing out on picking up only their second trophy in 2013 missing out to rivals Bayern.
Key players will obviously dictate that. The wealth of attacking talent in the Champions League is enough to make you water at the mouth, with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, and Diego Costa lighting up the fields. And they’ll be the difference.
Ronaldo has done it time and time again, becoming the tournament’s highest ever goalscorer with 71, whilst Messi is only two goals behind that. The Ballon d’Or winner is already flying this season with 15 La Liga goals in just eight games and has transferred that into European competition.
It’s going to be an exciting tournament this season, it’ll be a tough ask if anyone is going to knock Madrid off their perch. Head to head, Bayern look best equipped to do that, they’ve already knocked seven past Roma in Italy – their highest away win in their history – whilst the likes of Robben, Ribery, and Lewandowski will be more than a match for any defenders in the competition, not least Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane.