With the 2018 FIFA World Cup ended, the 2018-19 footballing season is now soon to commence with top football clubs getting ready to take part in pre-season friendlies.
The UEFA Champions League has been more or less dominated by Real Madrid for the past few seasons, with the Spanish club winning four out of the last five editions.
However, with the transfer season well underway clubs are trying to get stronger and bridge the gap between them and Real Madrid.
Here are five clubs who are the prime contenders to win the UEFA Champions League this season:
#1 Real Madrid
Real Madrid will once again start are firm favourites to lift the trophy for the fourth time in as many seasons. Even though they have lost the services of superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, they look set to rope in one of Kylian Mbappe, Neymar or Eden Hazard as his replacement.
Madrid have already replaced outgoing manager Zinadine Zidane with former Spanish coach Julen Lopetegui. Lopetegui, who was a former youth manager at Madrid, is familiar with many of the faces in his new club.
It is hard to see why Madrid cannot lift the trophy once again in a year’s time.
#2 FC Barcelona
Lionel Messi and his FC Barcelona team will be the number one challenger to Real Madrid. The rivalry between the two clubs has not been new to the sports news and it has been three seasons that the Catalan club last lifted the trophy.
Ernesto Valverde has now familiarised with the ways at Barcelona and the players have also adapted to his ways.
With Ousmane Dembele back to full fitness and Philippe Coutinho available in the competition, FC Barcelona have a perfect team to break the Real Madrid monopoly.
#3 Juventus FC
Italian giants Juventus have taken the world by shock with the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo in the transfer window.
Although, they have lost the services of Gianluigi Buffon, the club have the services of Wojciech Szczęsny with them.
Ronaldo will also be buoyed by the talent of Paulo Dybala in midfield and will have Gonzalo Higuain and 2018 FIFA World Cup runner-up Mario Mandzukic in attack with him. This does give the Juventus attack a menacing look.
#4 Paris Saint Germain FC
Like every season, French champion Paris Saint Germain FC have a super star team and are one of the favourites to lift the trophy come next May.
The attack is led by Brazilian winger Neymar, French World Cup winner Kylian Mbappe and Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani.
Although Neymar looked patchy in the recently concluded World Cup, Mbappe took the world by storm in the tournament and won the Young Player of the World Cup award. Cavani was also very impressive in the World Cup in his partnership with Luis Suarez.
PSG have also taken in the services of veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon. Former Borussia Dortmund manager Thomas Tuchel is the new manager replacing Unai Emery. Tuchel is a master tactician and is known for getting the best out of his players.
#5 Manchester City FC
Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City will also be one of the favourites of the upcoming Champions League after dominating and creating records in the Premier League last season.
City have impressive bench strength in all positions and their transfer activities have included buying Algerian winger Riyad Mahrez for a club record £60 million.
Mahrez adds ammunition to an arsenal which boasts of wingers like Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling, Bernardo Silva, midfielders Kevin de Bruyne and David Silva and forwards Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus.