The Champions makes its long awaited return tonight with last year’s finalists Liverpool coming up against one of the tournaments favorites in Paris Saint-Germain.
By Shane McDermott
Liverpool who were beat the final last May in Kiev will hoping to go one better this year as well as teams like Juventus, Barcelona, Manchester City and all the others.
Ahead of the kick-off tonight, we will look at 9 teams who will be hoping to lift the trophy in Madrid next year:
- REAL MADRID
Last Season: Winners
Best player: Gareth Bale – as Ronaldo has now left Madrid all the expectations will be on the Welshman to be the main man at the Bernabeu, after being on fire at the start of this season getting three goals and three assists already this season and in the final last season scoring two wondergoals he will hope to keep his good form up.
Group:CSKA Moscow, Roma, Viktoria Plzen
Last Season: Quarter-finals (beaten by Roma,on away goals)
Best player: Lionel Messi – With four goals and three assists so far this season the wee man is showing some signs of his best and with the triumphs of Ronaldo in recent seasons it has put Messi in the shade, but it won’t be long before we see magic from him on Europe’s biggest stage.
Group:Inter Milan, PSV Eindhoven, Tottenham
Last Season: Quarter-finals(lost 4-3 to Real Madrid on aggregate)
Best player: Cristiano Ronaldo –Being thereabouts in Europe in the last couple of years and with the £100 million singing of Ronaldo, who always performs on the biggest stage. He has guided Real Madrid to three Champions League trophies in three years and he is just a big improvement to an already good squad.
Group: Manchester United, Valencia, Young Boys
- PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN
Last Season: Last 16 (lost 5-2 to Real Madrid on aggregate)
Best player: Neymar –With the Brazilian always rumored to leave Paris, this might be the last time that PSG might have a chance to win the trophy with Neymar and with four goals in four matches it seems that he has put his World Cup woes behind him.
Group:Liverpool, Napoli, Red Star Belgrade
- BAYERN MUNICH
Last Season: Semi Finals (4-3 defeat to Real Madrid on aggregate)
Best player: Robert Lewandowski – After strongly being linked away in the summer the Polish striker remain at the front of Bayerns sharp attack with 41 goals last season, he can be effective on his day but failed to net in the quarter and semi-finals.
Group: AEK Athens, Ajax, Benfica
- ATLETICO MADRID
Last Season: Knocked out at group stage (won the Europa League)
Best player: Antoine Griezmann – With a World Cups medal under his belt and 29 goals last season. Griezmann will be hoping that his goal-scoring and flair will keep Atletico in Champions League a wee bit longer this time out.
Group: Dortmund, Club Brugge, Monaco
- MANCHESTER CITY
Last Season: Quarter-Finals (beaten 5-1 on aggregate by Liverpool)
Best player: Ederson – There was a lot players to choose from, but with De Bruyne out injured Ederson will become the key man to play Pep’s football with his distance in goal-kicks and playing out from the back he is the first man to start City’s attacks.
Group: Hoffenheim, Lyon, Shakhtar Donetsk
Last Season: Finalists (beaten 3-1 by Real Madrid)
Best player: Mohamed Salah –The completely unplayable at times Liverpool, run to the final was mainly down to there attack and especially Salah with 44 goals and 16 assists in his debut season and with Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino it makes one of the best attacks in world football
Group: Paris Saint-Germain, Napoli, Red Star Belgrade
- MANCHESTER UNITED
Last Season: Last 16 (beaten on aggregate 2-1 to Sevilla)
Best player: Romelu Lukaku – The Big Belgian got 27 goals in all for United last season with 5 in the Champions League , and will be hopeful that he can proved that fire power again this time out and will be key if United are to get a good run in the competition this year.
Group:Juventus, Valencia, Young Boys