Like all other football competitions in the world, the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League was also affected by the coronavirus pandemic — which brought the whole world to a standstill. As the surge of the pandemic is decreasing, football activities are gradually resuming, and football fans are most excited by the anticipated return of the Champions League in August. But the return of football does not mean everything is back to normal as it was before the pandemic, various safety regulations and guidelines are now being adhered to with the most notable being the absence of fans in the stadium. As in other competitions, UEFA have also made slight changes to the Champions League with the competition now expected to be in a mini-tournament format (at least for the remainder of the 2019/20 season). You can check out the new Champions League restart rules.
On resumption in August, the remaining 2nd leg fixtures of the Champions League round of 16 will be played while from the quarterfinals onwards, every fixture will be in a straight knockout tie and all the matches will be played in a single country. The games will be played in Lisbon, Portugal, in two stadiums, namely; The Estadio Jose Alvalade of Sporting Lisbon and the Estadio da Luz of Benfica.
The quarter-finals and semifinals draw of the Champions League have made.
In this article, we look at the 4 strongest favourites to win the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League.
1. BAYERN MUNICH
The Bavarians are desperately searching for their 6th ever Champions league title with the last being in 2013. Bayern recently wrapped up their 7th consecutive Bundesliga title and are hungry and ready to prove their mettle on the continental stage. Starman Robert Lewandowski is in red-hot form having scored a staggering 49 goals in all competitions so far. The German champions have a lot of time to prepare ahead of the Champions league’s return in August as the Bundesliga season has been concluded, they will have the advantage of being more fitter than their opponents.
Bayern currently have a 3-nil advantage over Chelsea from the round of 16 first leg at Stamford Bridge and will welcome the Blues to the Allianz Arena.
2. MANCHESTER CITY
The Cityzens might have lost their Premier League title defence to Liverpool, but take nothing away from Pep Guardiola’s charges! City have never won the champions league in their history add this to the fact that they have been banned from next season competition (which they are currently appealing) due to financial fair play misconduct and you will find a side who will be very eager to lay their hands on the trophy come the end of the season.
They are also looking to repeat last season’s treble, having already secured the League Cup and now in the FA Cup semi-finals. Man City has a 2-1 advantage over Real Madrid from the round of 16 first leg at the Bernabeu, and should they be able to overcome Madrid at the Etihad, it will be extremely difficult for any other side to stop them.
Although Juventus lost their round of 16 first leg 1-nil to Lyon in France, the Bianconerri are expected to overturn the deficit on their home soil. They currently have a 7 points lead over 2nd placed Lazio in the Serie A with just seven games remaining. With the Serie A no longer a distraction, Maurizio Sarri’s side will go for the kill when the Champions League returns in August. Juventus have reached the Champions League final twice in the last 5 seasons losing both to Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively and will be hoping to go one step better. Juve will be significantly boosted by the return of captain Giorgio Chiellini from injury and the return-to-form of both Paulo Dybala and Mattijs de Ligt while the presence of Cristiano Ronaldo in their ranks is another major advantage with the Portuguese captain dubbed “Mr. Champion league” due to his past exploits in the competition having won it five times with both Manchester United and Real Madrid. Ronaldo normally comes to life in the knockout stages of the competition, think of his Real Madrid days!
Also, the new format couldn’t have been better for CR7 as the games will be in his favorite knockout ties whilst also being staged in his native Portugal.
Paris Saint-German are the only team on this list who have guaranteed their place in the quarterfinals having eliminated Borussia Dortmund in the round of 16. With the French Ligue 1 having been canceled since May due to the coronavirus outbreak, Neymar and Co. have more than enough time to prepare ahead of their rivals in the champions league’s resumption.
Although PSG players have always been criticized in the past for not showing enough in the competition, they showed enough in their triumph over Dortmund in the round of 16 to demonstrate their readiness this time around.
Written by Muftaudeen Abdullahi Ishola