After finishing Lyon off with a 5-1 win at the Camp Nou, Barcelona look forward to their next opponent in the Champions League, Manchester United. The Red Devils pose an interesting challenge after completely revitalizing their campaign following the hiring of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. With the upcoming challenge, Barcelona are in great form, putting a testy Espanyol aside with a 2-0 win. Looking forward though, let’s take a look at what teams pose the strongest challenge in the Champions League and who can win it.
We’ll start off in the Premier League, where Barcelona’s current foe resides. Although containing world-class players and a great attitude as of recently, Manchester United are not favored to continue in the Champions League, but the other team from Manchester is. Manchester City has had another exceptional year and is still in contention for the quadruple, something unseen in modern football. Pep Guardiola has the backing and fortitude to lead his squad to Champions League glory. With no obvious weaknesses in the lineup, City’s squad contains world-class players all over the pitch and is hungry for Champions League success, posing them as possibly the greatest challenger to Barcelona for the cup.
Another team in the Premier League having a fantastic season and certainly in contention to win the Champions League is Liverpool. Last year, in the final, they were unfortunate to lose their star player Mohamed Salah in the first half to injury and had two atrocious goalkeeping mistakes that influenced their 3-1 loss to Real Madrid. Back and faster than ever, they’re fighting for the Premier League and look forward to facing Tottenham. After getting through Bayern Munich in the round of 16, Liverpool proved that last season was not a one-off campaign, the Reds from Merseyside are back, and all top European teams must be on the lookout.
Moving from England to Italy, Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus cannot be underestimated. Coming back from a 2-0 first leg deficit against Atletico Madrid to win 3-0 at home, Ronaldo led the way with a hat-trick. Juventus have a deep squad with international stars from Miralem Pjanic to Blaise Matuidi, a defensive fortitude, and the passion to win it all as seen by their comeback against one of Europe’s toughest defensive squads, Atletico Madrid. Although they can challenge for the silverware, Juventus must also be wary of the young upstart Ajax side. As highlighted against Real Madrid, even though they lack the relative experience and maturity, Ajax showed they could battle with the top teams in the world over two legs.
Of course, last, but not least, Barcelona. They have proved this year that they have the depth, the talent, and the desire. Following Messi’s proclamation that the squad would bring the Champions League trophy back to the Camp Nou this year, the team seems destined for another treble. Copa del Rey Final ready, La Liga almost won, and the Champions League remains. The competition is strong, but with the talent available, as well as the squad’s current form, Barcelona can be confident in winning it all. Visca Barca!