The UCL This Year Might Be the Best Ever. Here’s Why.
The wait is nearly over. The latest chapter of the UEFA Champions League (UCL) odyssey starts tonight. This season's UCL promises to be the most exhilarating in a while. It sounds cliché, but the dynamics going into the tournament make for an intriguing story over the next nine months.
The ongoing transition period of last decade's dominant forces, Barcelona and Real Madrid, has created a power vacuum in the Champions League, leaving the door ajar for teams to establish themselves. After this summer's transfer madness, there are a host of teams ready to do just that.
Paris Saint-Germain seem to be the overwhelming favourites going into the tournament. Their world class forwards Neymar and Kylian Mbappe would be linking-up with a certain Lionel Messi. Their team has been further bolstered by the additions of Hakimi, Ramos, Wijnaldum and UEFA Euro winning goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma. This has made their already world class team into an even more imposing and feared one around Europe.
Despite the general consensus, other teams are also very adept contenders. The likes of Bayern Munich, reigning champions Chelsea, and Manchester City are outstanding teams in their own right – boasting some top, world class players in every position of their teams. Add to that the tactical nous of their managers – Julian Nagelsmann, Thomas Tuchel and Pep Guardiola – and we have three teams who are more than capable of making their way to European glory.
What makes things even more fascinating is the fact that there are genuine teams who can easily upset the odds. Football is a game with many twists and turns after-all, and it isn't beyond the realms of possibility for a team to create an incredible story of their own.
Liverpool, despite their decline since their 2019/20 PL title-win, still boasts an intimidating squad. But they have been put in the group-of-death, with the Anfield-outfit coming up against Atletico Madrid, Porto and AC Milan. This perhaps makes them slightly less favourite to win compared to the qualities the contenders possess.
Borussia Dortmund is another team to look out for. They have a young and vibrant squad containing some top players. They also have their cheat code in Erling Haaland, and the young goal-machine's prowess might just lead them to something special in Europe.
Manchester United perhaps fit the criteria most perfectly. They had a dream summer window, capping the purchases of Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane with the blockbuster homecoming of an all-time great in Cristiano Ronaldo. Despite their midfield issues, they now have a tactically improved and proficient unit, having the right blend of youth, experience, talent, and winning-mentality. They might just spring a big surprise in Europe this season.
It isn't the football which makes the story fascinating; with the ESL fiasco still fresh in memory. The unfancied teams would certainly have a point to prove against the rebels, with their inner-drive producing some upsets over the campaign. Moldovan club Sheriff Tiraspol's story is something every club in Europe will take heart from, with a budget even lower than many second-tier clubs, they defied all the odds to qualify for UCL. These are the stories which make football truly beautiful.
With so many subplots brewing, this season's UCL promises to be the most exciting for a long time. For now, all we fans need to grab our popcorn and watch as the tales start to unravel in the big-stage.
Inqiad Bin Ali is excited about this season's UCL. Help him through his pre O-Level mocks at firstname.lastname@example.org