Europe's view: Ranking the best Champions League teams
Can Real Madrid retain the Champions League? We’ve teamed up with our European network to gain insight into each nation’s leading contenders, with each office also voting for their top 10. The results are revealed below…
Ten points were awarded for first in each country's rankings, nine for second, eight for third, and so on...
1. Barcelona (66 points)
Despite their already huge reserves of talent, Barcelona actually managed to get better this summer. They have added very interesting players in key positions like centre-back Samuel Umtiti, central midfielder Andre Gomes and centre-forward Paco Alcacer. When you consider they have the best frontline of all time in Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar, and two of the most important midfielders of the modern era in Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets, it's clear they will take some stopping.
2. Bayern Munich (62)
After reaching at least the semi-finals for five consecutive years (including two finals and one triumph) the German giants could be shaping up for another win. With Manuel Neuer, Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels, plus Philipp Lahm and David Alaba, they have the best defence in the world, a midfield stacked with talent, including Xabi Alonso as the experienced leader, a superb collection of wide players in Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben, Kingsley Coman and Renato Sanches, a striker in Robert Lewandowski which any team would love to have and Carlo Ancelotti as coach - a man who knows how to win the Champions League like none other.
3. Real Madrid (59)
The challenge for Real Madrid: becoming the first team to win two Champions League crowns in a row. They have not made particularly impressive signings - Alvaro Morata is the most important new player, and he isn't really new - but to be honest they didn't need to after displaying such a high level in the past few seasons. They have made the semi-finals for seven years in a row now and this competitiveness is as important as a star player.
Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates with the trophy after winning the UEFA Champions LeagueReuters
4. Manchester City (45)
Group stage flops under Roberto Mancini, semi-finalists last season under Manuel Pellegrini and now, finally, serious contenders to win the competition for the first time after appointing the best coach on the planet. Pep Guardiola’s impact has been quickly felt at City, who are a team reborn, and a man who has never not reached the final four in the European Cup has the players to win his third trophy. Guardiola couldn’t quite make the final leap with Bayern, but he has assembled a very talented squad who despite lacking a genuine superstar will challenge any team this season thanks to their sophisitication.
5. Atletico Madrid (40)
There is one big change from last season as Kevin Gameiro is their new striker but, for the first time in recent years, they kept their best players. Could it be enough? Nobody knows, but they will fight as hard as they have done in the past. Atletico are not the best team, but they are the most difficult to beat.
6. Juventus (38)
With Gonzalo Higuain, Miralem Pjanic, Dani Alves and Mehdi Benatia, Juventus have reached a top-class level: unbeatable in Italy, competitive in Europe. Now their primary goal is to win the Champions League after a final in 2014-2015 and an unlucky campaign last year. Juventus might be worth a semi-final bet.
Gonzalo Higuain (L) celebrates with teamate Paulo Dybala after scoring against Sassuolo.Reuters
7. Paris Saint-Germain (29)
They've lost Zlatan but PSG have acquired a very talented manager in Unai Emery, who has developed a reputation as a cup specialist after his extensive success with Sevilla. Can he graduate to the Champions League after winning three sucessive Europa Leagues with Sevilla?
8. Borussia Dortmund (19)
Dortmund could be the dark horses of this Champions League campaign. They lost important players like Hummels, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Ilkay Gundogan but signed a number of interesting talents, including Ousmane Dembele, Raphael Guerreiro and Emre Mor, along with established internationals Mario Gotze and Andre Schurrle. If Thomas Tuchel can form a functioning team from his pool of players, Dortmund could return to where they were before Jurgen Klopp’s disastrous last season with the club.
9. Arsenal (16)
Arsene Wenger has had almost 20 goes at winning the Champions League and has failed every time. They’ve been knocked out of the last-16 for the past six years – losing at the first opportunity against decent opposition, and Monaco – so there’s no way you can really back them to win it. They are one of the top 10 teams though and have added nearly £100m of new signings this summer. Granit Xhaka and Shkodran Mustafi are both impressive talents and should make Arsenal harder to beat.
Leicester City manager Claudio RanieriReuters
10. Leicester City (=3)
If there’s one thing we learned last season, it’s that you should never write off Leicester. The loss of N’Golo Kante was a big setback but keeping Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy was huge for Claudio Ranieri this summer and they have bought well too, especially in attack with the exciting signings of Ahmed Musa and Islam Slimani. Leicester will pose problems to most teams with their threat on the counter – especially if European sides commit the same mistake as English ones last season and assume they aren’t actually any good.
10. Tottenham (=3)
Face a struggle retaining their top-four place in England this season given the huge investment at the Manchester clubs but Mauricio Pochettino's side don't mind being underdogs and their high-energy pressing will unsettle lots of teams.
10. Sevilla (=3)
Jorge Sampaoli has the tricky task of replacing Emery and he has a cast of interesting signings to help him, with the likes of Ganso, Wissam Ben Yedder, Luciano Vietto and Samir Nasri being added to the squad.