According to Barcelona and Argentina superstar Lionel Messi, Juventus are favourites to win the Champions League this season after their summer capture of Messi’s arch-rival Cristiano Ronaldo. The veteran forward made the surprising switch to Turin from Real Madrid.
Juventus the Champions League favourites
Asked about the strength of rivals Real Madrid, Messi told Catalunya Radio: “Obviously they (Madrid) are one of the best teams in the world, they have great players and squad, but yes the departure of Cristiano from the squad makes them less strong,”
“It makes Juventus a clear favourite to win the Champions League due to the squad they had before and now with him on top.
“I was surprised by his decision, I did not think he would go from Madrid nor that he would go to Juventus. There were so many teams and I heard less about Juve but it is a very good team.”
Those quotes say a lot about Messi’s character. He appreciates Ronaldo as a player. It is hard to see Ronaldo ever saying anything similar about his Argentinian rival.
Still a rivalry despite Ronaldo’s exit
For nearly a decade, Messi and Ronaldo slugged it out for world and La Liga supremacy. The pair has quite simply been on a different level in the last few years to their contemporaries.
Messi’s Barcelona and Ronaldo’s Real Madrid were the most bitter of rivals, and the fact they had the two best players in the world made the rivalry even more interesting, exciting and intense.
The rivalry may lessen slightly with Ronaldo now in Italy. However, the battle for the Ballon d’Or will continue, as will the rivalry for the Champions League trophy. In reality, Ronaldo does look to be a better position to win Europe’s elite competition for a fourth straight season.
Not the only contenders
While Messi believes that the Bianconeri are favourites to lift the trophy, there are many other contenders for the trophy. Real Madrid may have lost Ronaldo, but the reports of their death have been greatly exaggerated.
Los Blancos still have a squad full of top players, even without Ronaldo. The likes of Marcos Asensio and Isco look ready to step up their game, while Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema can now step out of Ronaldo’s shadow.
Messi’s Barcelona should be contenders this season too after failing to lift the trophy since 2015. The Blaugrana have already started the defence of their La Liga crown in good fashion and will be determined to progress further in the Champions League than recent years.
PSG look to be another contender, well any team with Neymar, Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe in it will always be a threat. However, the Parisians have a habit of struggling when under pressure in the competition.
Then, of course, there is Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. The Citizens have not started their Premier League campaign in formidable style. However, they have quality throughout their ranks and with Guardiola at the helm anything is possible.
Liverpool look like they could be a dangerous outsider for the competition too after starting the campaign like a house on fire.
All these quality teams in the competition should make this season’s Champions League a real treat for football fans. It remains to be seen if Messi’s prediction of Juventus as favourites rings true.
Are Juventus favourites to win the Champions League this season?