Real Madrid lifted their 11th European Cup in 2016 by beating Atletico Madrid on penalties in the finale. Will the Merengues go back-to-back next season, or will one of their nemeses, Barcelona or Atletico, reach the pinnacle of club soccer? (I guess there are a few other viable outcomes, but not that many.)
All the teams will make new additions to their coaching staffs and rosters in the offseason, but the odds to win the 2016-17 trophy are already out. Let’s take a closer look at the favorites and who’s worthy of a taste.
Barcelona will bounce back after last season’s quarterfinal exit. The Cules only had one bad week during the entire 2015-16 season, but that was enough to get eliminated from the Champions League in the quarters, falling to Atletico. They still edged out Real by a point for the La Liga crown and they should retain Luis Suarez, Neymar, and Lionel Messi. Having three of the best goal scorers in the world on the same team is as close to a guarantee of success as you’ll find.
Bayern Munich and manager Pep Guardiola have parted ways after the team once again failed to reach the UCL final. Carlo Ancelotti, a Champions League mastermind, will be at the helm next year; Ancelotti has won the UCL title three times and been to four finals as a coach. He might be just the ingredient that Bayern’s Champions League recipe has been missing.
No team has won the European Cup in back to back seasons since AC Milan in 1989-90. Better teams than the current iteration of Real Madrid have tried and failed. I can’t see the Merengues winning again next year. Their path to the final certainly won’t be as cushy. Of course, they’ll once again make massive investments in their roster in the summer, so I reserve the right to completely change that opinion.
City’s roster is nowhere near the teams above them on this list, but the addition of manager Pep Guardiola indicates that management is thinking title nonetheless. Guardiola is known for completely scrapping everything the previous coach implemented and putting together his own plan. But City fans won’t be happy unless the team is performing well in the Premier League as well as the UCL, so he’ll have a tough juggling act on his hands as both will be ultra-competitive.
The soccer gods have been unfair to Atletico Madrid and coach Diego Simeone, losing two of the last three finals, one in extra time and the last on penalties. Nevertheless, as long as Simeone is around, the team will have a shot at the title every single season. Their defense is that good. A couple offensive additions in the offseason would be nice.
Borussia Dortmund: 14/1
Leicester City: 50/1.
(Photo credit: Lluís from Sabadell (Barcelona), España (LFS_14039) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)
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