FC Bayern Munich (Germany)
Manager: Carlo Ancelotti
Games Played: 3, Won: 2, Drawn: 0, Lost: 1
For most of last season, the reigning Bundesliga champions were considered the best team in the Europe, which is codeword for best team in the world. The champs was cruising past other teams with ease both in the domestic league and in Europe.
Robert Lewandowski (last season’s golden boot winner with 30 league goals) scored almost every game, then-new signee Douglas Costa and French youngster Kingsley Koman quickly became revelations and then-manager Pep Guardiola seemed to casually experiment every attacking formation known to man with different players while getting away with.
Injuries to star wingers Frank Ribery and Arjen Robben did not stop them from annihilating teams. They were on-course to win their fourth consecutive Bundesliga title and looked like they were going to add a sixth Champions League title, until they got knocked out semi-finals last season by Atletico Madrid by the away goal rule. This season they still look as formidable as ever, with some changes. Serial winner, Carlo Ancelotti was hired earlier this year after the departure of Guardiola to Manchester City, they also bolstered their midfield with this year’s Golden Boy Winner, Renato Sanches.
For a team that already boasts six World Cup winners in their starting 11 with world class players like Lewandoski, Costa and Ribery, it is safe to say that they have the deepest squad in the competition this season. As fate would have it, Atletico happen to be in the same group as Bayern in the group stages (Group D) alongside FC Rostov and PSV. Besides Atletico—the only team to beat Bayern this season—the group seems as an easy kill for the Bavarians. The German champions look as dominant as ever, especially in their 4-1 thrashing of PSV on Matchweek 3 and they have the quality to go all the way in the tournament.
FC Barcelona (Spain)
Manager: Luis Enrique
Games Played: 3, Won: 3, Drawn: 0, Lost: 0
This is the only team thought to be on par with Bayern or some might have argued to be better than the Bavarian outfit last season. The dreaded South American trio of reigning Ballon d’or winner Lionel Messi, superstar Neymar da Silva Jnr.who led the Brazilian team to its first ever Olympic gold medal and this season’s European golden shoe holder Luis Suarez were scoring goals for fun last season, scoring a combined 130 goals and breaking their own record of 120 which they set during the previous season.
The Blaugrana played brilliant football last season and through the group stages. During the first knockout games, it looked like they could be the first team to successfully defend a Champions League title in the history of the competition. Unfortunately, they were handed a premature exit in the quarter-finals, courtesy of Atletico, once again spoiling the party. This season though, the team still looks stronger after a successful summer transfer window, with the likes of Lucas Digne, Samuel Umtiti and Paco Alcacer joining the fold. With three straight wins in Group C, including the resounding 4-0 win over Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City on Matchweek 3, the reigning La Liga champions looks like a formidable force and are one of the favorites to win the title.
Real Madrid C.F. (Spain)
Manager: Zenedine Zidane
Games Played: 3, Won: 2, Drawn: 1, Lost: 0
Nobody could have written a better story for the Los Blancos last season, they won their eleventh Champions League trophy, the most in history, at the cost of bitter rivals and famed giant killers who seemed to run out of luck, Atletico Madrid, for the second time in three years in club’s history, had the legend Zenedine Zidane have his first year as a first team coach. Many might question their journey to the finals because they got more favorable draws than other rivals but nevertheless, they are this season’s defending champions.
The team endured a quiet summer as bringing Alvaro Morata back from Juventus and selling Jese Rodriguez was their only involvement in the transfer window, but their returning stars are rejuvenated, especially star player Cristiano Ronaldo who won the Euros with his country Portugal. After an initial shaky start, Madrid seems to be getting into their rhythm with two wins and a draw, sitting second and level on points with group leaders, Borussia Dortmund in Group F.
Juventus F.C. (Italy)
Manager: Massimiliano Allegri
Games Played: 3, Won: 2, Drawn: 1, Lost: 0
Juventus gained a lot of attention over the summer when they sold French star Paul Pogba for World record fee of £89.3 million to Manchester United and then purchased Serie A top scorer Gonzalo Higuain for £70 million. It was a busy summer for The Old Lady, they still acquired Dani Alves from Barcelona, Miralem Pnajic from AS Roma and Mehdi Benatia from Bayern Munich. The 2015 Champion League finalists are looking to win their sixth straight Serie A (domestic league) title and their third Champions League title and with what looks like their best squad in years, this might be their best chance.