UCL is finely poised at the moment.. With the second legs of the first round knockout rounds to take place shortly, we shall soon know which teams will go to the next round. However, the pertinent question here is, are we going to witness a power change finally in UCL? UCL in the last decade has been dominated by Spanish sides.. Real Madrid won it four times and Barca won thrice with Atletico Madrid making two finals during that time span. The other three times, it was won by a Seria Side (Inter), an English side (Chelsea) and a German side (Bayern), each winning it once.. Such domination is unprecedented in modern times and many would rightly point out the reasons to be the presence of some generational players and two all time greats plying their trade there.
But the tide seems to be finally changing this time. This season at this particular moment of time, it seems that teams like PSG, City and Liverpool are the main contenders to win the UCL rather than any Spanish side.
Barca had a 0-0 draw against Lyon in first leg. Domestically Barca are quite secure with a seven point lead over Atletico, but ghosts of the Roma debacle last season still looms large and Barca have not increased their level quite up to their easter days standards this season too. Even a 1-1 draw at Camp Nou will knock them out. This is precisely the reason that Lyon are quite confident of advancing to the next round and they have sent the warning signals with a 5-1 thrashing of Toulouse with Nebil Fekir on fire. Fekir was suspended in first leg and he must be relishing the opportunity to face and eliminate barca at their home ground. To simply put it, this Barcelona is far from the invincible or untouchable Barca of old, they simply have lost their aura and dominance and that’s why many experts as well as fans feel that its a long way for this Barcelona to reach the finishing line especially overcoming some other teams in Europe who has been in red hot form. It seems highly unlikely that Barcelona will win that prize which they covet so much, the UCL trophy.
Madrid have won their first leg against Ajax 2-1, however it was a match they were thoroughly dominated and this gives the young Ajax team ample self belief. The recent abysmal record of Madrid at Bernabeau and their poor la liga season will give Ajax extra hope and motivation to overcome the deficit in second leg. Even if Madrid goes through, their current situation reflects the possibility that they might not be the team lifting the trophy at Wanda Metropolitan coming June.
Atletico Madrid seems to be in most comfortable position among the three Spanish sides, having won the first leg against Juventus 2-0, somewhat unexpectedly. However Juve have a player who has previously overcome the exact same scenario against Wolfsburg and his presence and confidence must have given Juve the confidence to overcome the first leg result. Also Juventus have got the time to regroup themselves and having an unsurpassable lead in Seria A, will field a completely rested team against Atletico. Atletico themselves have too many erratic results this season and have been up and down formwise frequently. The final being played at Wanda Metropolitan will give them added incentive and motivation, but their inconsistent form will hamper them and the tie against Juve is by no means over.
PSG have a squad in red hot form under the able leadership and guidance of Tuchel. They defeated United 2-0 without Neymar and Cavani. With these two coming back, this might finally be the year when they win that coveted trophy. They surely are among the favourites.
Another two favourites are the two EPL teams who are boxing each other for the EPL trophy, Manchester City and Liverpool. These two have the two deepest squads in Europe with quality oozing in all departments. Both Pep and Klopp are fantastic managers who both are eager to land their hands on the biggest club trophy in the world. If Juventus overcomes Atletico courtesy some Ronaldo magic, they surely will join these three teams as favourites to win it.
With the presence of some dominant teams as discussed above and with the Spanish teams all stuttering to various degrees, it seems that finally the power shift is happening in UCL and its highly unlikely that a Spanish team will be lifting the trophy on June 2nd at Wanda Metropolitan.