Following a turbulent season paused by COVID-19, the Champions League is finally back in full swing. Coming fresh off a season of dominance, reigning champions Bayern look to win back-to-back trophies. On the other hand, teams knocked out early last year look to rebound this year.
As with any season, there must be yearly predictions. Here are picks for teams to watch in this year’s competition.
Winners: Bayern Munich
This is the most obvious choice for a variety of reasons. While it would be exciting to see another team lift the trophy at the season’s end, it will likely be Bayern once again.
Despite losing arguably the world’s best midfielder in Thiago, the team’s other transfers more than made up for the loss. Their transfer window saw them add the likes of Douglas Costa on loan from Juventus and Leroy Sane from Manchester City. Both players bolster the attack while providing much-needed depth.
Not to mention that they have the world’s best striker, Robert Lewandowski, leading the line.
Bayern’s attack isn’t its only strong point. A world-class defense that conceded a Bundesliga-low 32 goals will be sure to repeat the same in the Champions League.
Don’t be surprised to see Bayern at the winner’s pedestal come the season’s end.
Biggest Surprise: Chelsea
Last year’s competition didn’t go horribly for Chelsea. After all, they did make it to the round of 16. However, a disastrous 7-1 aggregate loss at the hands of Bayern marked the end of their campaign.
Just eight years ago, in 2012, Chelsea beat Bayern in the Final to claim their first and only Champions League. Now, they are regarded as sleepers in the competition.
After that disappointing exit, not much is expected this year. This could serve as the club’s strong point as they can certainly offer a surprise. Offseason additions of Kai Havertz, Timo Werner, and Hakim Ziyech could prove to be vital in the new-look attack.
Edouard Mendy coming in to replace mistake-prone goalkeeper Kepa is also a massive upgrade from last year.
Winning the competition is a longshot for the Blues, but they have the ability to make a deep run and pull out some surprise results along the way.
Biggest Disappointment: PSG
Paris Saint Germain had a phenomenal run in the Champions League last year. The Ligue 1 winners came in second place after a heartbreaking 1-0 defeat to Bayern in the final.
In a match where PSG was expected to be thrashed, they did quite well. If not for missed sitters from Kylian Mbappe and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, PSG may have well won the match.
If last season serves as an expectation for this year, many fans and players may be disappointed.
PSG’s Champions League effort, while impressive, went through a weak bracket where PSG were the only realistic contenders. While credit is due to the team, the likelihood of drawing another weak bracket and progressing that far is much slimmer this year.