Real Madrid have all the makings of a dynasty in European soccer. Los Merengues have won three of the last four UEFA Champions League titles. And honestly, they appear as the main favorites to win it all once again in 2017/18. Three-peating in soccer is quite difficult, however, so we should not assume Madrid are going to win it easily.
Several teams stand in their way to win a fourth title in five years. And even though Madrid have the best odds to win their 13th UCL crown, it is not going to be easy. Here are three teams who could be their biggest challenge to lift La Orejona at the end of the campaign.
The Bundesliga giants have assembled one of the most competitive teams in the world. And even though they didn’t add any notable players during the transfer window, they are still a force on the European stage. They might have lost Philipp Lahm, Xabi Alonso, and Douglas Costa. But they bolstered their defensive end with Niklas Sule, Corentin Tolisso, and Sebastian Rudy. And if that wasn’t enough, they also purchased Kingsley Coman for good from Juventus. Coman represents a decent upgrade over Costa, who never settled in the Bundesliga.
Bayern’s strength relies on what they already have in the roster, though. Their core has the best goalkeeper in the world in Manuel Neuer, one of the best central defenders in Mats Hummels, and a star striker in Robert Lewandowski. And we didn’t mention players such as David Alaba, Arturo Vidal, Thiago Alcantara, or Arjen Robben. They have the quality, the depth, and the experience to potentially upset Real Madrid if given the chance.
PSG have been one of the hottest teams of late. Not only because they won the French Super Cup against AS Monaco this past week, but also because they have been quite active in the transfer market. They already added Dani Alves on a free transfer from Juventus. And they are on the verge of adding Neymar as well. PSG are already one of the top teams in Europe. But having Neymar on the roster would probably push them over the top.
Neymar has not signed yet, and his arrival to France is nothing more than a rumor. But even if the French giants do not add the Brazilian star, they should still be one of the top threats to Real Madrid. Their frontline already features Angel Di Maria, Edinson Cavani, Julian Draxler and Lucas Moura. They have a star defensive midfielder in Marco Verratti. And the defensive unit of Alves, Thiago Silva, Marquinhos and Layvin Kurzawa has the potential to be one of the best in Europe. Adding Neymar would be the cherry on top of the cake. But they already are strong as they are right now.
It is only fitting to put Barcelona as Real Madrid’s biggest threat to win the UEFA Champions League. They are their biggest rivals. And honestly, they are the only team in the world that can match them up eye-to-eye in terms of talent. They have fallen short to win the tournament in recent years. But they are due to a bounce-back year, and they know how to play against Madrid. That matters especially if both teams collide on a 90-minute showdown.
If we talk about talent, there is no doubt Barcelona can upset anyone. Their attacking line of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar is a world-class unit. But even if they lose Neymar, they have targeted the likes of Eden Hazard, Philippe Coutinho, and Paulo Dybala as potential replacements. They have a solid defensive line as well with the presence of Samuel Umtiti and Gerard Pique. And their midfield is excellent, where Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic control the game.
They might not be at their best. But considering their amount of talent, they remain the top threat to unsettle Real Madrid on the quest for European glory.