Eurosport Roundtable: Who will win the Champions League?
Will Barcelona secure a rare treble? Are Bayern Munich over their blip? Is this the year Juventus restore Serie A's battered reputation? Can Real Madrid retain the title?
Ahead of Friday’s Champions League semi-final draw, we asked our team of writers to gaze into the future and predict who will lift the trophy in Berlin in June.
Advance warning: it's not good news for Bayern Munich fans...
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Alex Chick - @alex_eurosport
Juventus: This is a great and genuinely unpredictable last four – the only thing everyone agrees on is that this is the end of the road for Juventus. But why? Serie A may be weak, but Juve have been in regal domestic form, sitting 15 points clear with seven games to play. They boast a squad that should be the envy of Europe, mixing hot properties like Pogba, Vidal and Marchisio with old stagers Pirlo, Buffon, Chiellini, Tevez and Evra. Is it not their first rodeo (as seen by Chiellini’s gloriously cynical handball against Monaco) and they have every chance of causing an upset, whoever they draw.
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Tom Adams - @tomEurosport
Barcelona: Sorry, Serie A fans, but Juventus can be discounted immediately. The remaining three teams are all pretty much on a level, but it is Barcelona who remain the most convincing of the trio. Bayern Munich showed in their quarter-final first-leg defeat to Porto that they remain vulnerable away from home when confronted with a team willing to play at a high tempo and attack them, while Real Madrid, for all their recent improvement, are still performing in patches and are increasingly being beset by injuries, as indeed are Bayern. Barca, meanwhile, have all their best attacking players available to them in what is possibly the most deadly strikeforce in football history, and Luis Enrique set a new club record in winning 42 of his first 50 games thanks to the midweek win over PSG – more than Helenio Herrera, more than Pep Guardiola. They are highly functioning, fit and in fantastic form. In a three-horse race, they are the marginal favourites.
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Liam Happe - @liamhappe
Real Madrid – After over 20 years, it’s finally time for someone to retain the Champions League trophy. That Real’s general form this season has been the least impressive of the four semi-finalists (yes, I’m going to ignore the laughable attempts to label Barca’s slight dip as a crisis – again) just makes it all the more inevitable that they’ll go all the way. And, just like last year, Cristiano Ronaldo will find a dramatic late way of making a final that had little to do with him all about him. Even if that last part fails, at least he’ll have Thierry Henry doing everything in his power to change the topic to CR7 during the post-match analysis.
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Marcus Foley - @mmjfoley
Barcelona: Neymar, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi are an unparalleled forward line. The quality that Luis Enrique has at the forefront of his team can paper over cracks elsewhere. Defensively, they may remain susceptible at times but, at their best, they are Europe's greatest team. Marry their astonishing firepower with the wealth of experience this team possesses and you're looking at the team best suited to the business end of tournament football.
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Ben Snowball - @BenSnowball
Barcelona: Luis Enrique’s side looked formidable even when Suarez and Neymar were stuttering. With that duo now hitting form – the Uruguayan in particular – they will be near-unstoppable as they target an impressive treble. While Real Madrid and Bayern Munich have lost some of their early season momentum, Barcelona have improved as the months have rolled on – meaning they have to be considered favourites to triumph in Berlin in June. Oddly, the side most likely to derail their bid could be the defensively-sound Juventus, who will look to keep it tight and not allow the deadly Neymar-Messi-Suarez combo to run riot.
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Maxwell Ward - @MGWardy
Barcelona: Two sides stand out for the fluency of their play this season - Bayern Munich and Barcelona. Both are in contention to win the treble but only one can and that will be the Blaugrana. They started the season functionally but are ending it phenomenally as their South American trident rips through everything in its path. Messi, Neymar and Suarez have 20 goals between them in Europe this season, just one less than Real Madrid have managed, and the trio are fast approaching 100 in all competitions. Behind them you’ve got the usual whirl of passing and pressing that you get from Busquets, Iniesta and Rakitic and further back is a defence that has only conceded 19 times in 32 La Liga games. In September Barcelona stumbled to a 3-2 defeat at PSG but by April they had the French champions begging for mercy. They face fierce competition from a formidably talented Bayern Munich team led by the man best equipped to beat them, but, despite all of that, Barcelona still have the tools to take control against anyone.
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Roundtable: Champions League winner results
Barcelona: Four votes
Juventus: One vote
Real Madrid: One vote
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Chances are (especially if you’re a Bayern Munich fan) that you’ll disagree with the above. So have your say below!
Who do YOU think will lift the Champions League trophy in June?