Welcome to the 25th edition of the UEFA Champions League (62nd including the old competitions).
Winner: Real Madrid
Real's run started in Group A, where they went undefeated against PSG, Shakthar Donetsk and Malmö, where they scored 19 goals in 6 matches, 11 of them by Ronaldo, who alone scored 4 in the final 8-0 against Malmö. In the round of 16, they beat Roma 4-0 on aggregate, with CR7 scoring half of those goals. A critical moment came in the quarterfinal, where they surprisingly lost 0-2 in Wolfsburg before making their 3-0 comeback in the return leg, Ronaldo scoring goals 14,15 and 16. The semifinal was a boring, 180-minute clash with Manchester City, decided by a Fernando own goal in the 20th minute of the return leg.
The final in Milano was a re-match of the 2013-14 final. A Ramos goal was equalized by Carrasco, and on the final penalty in the shoot-out, Ronaldo (who had been invisible during the match) stepped up, scored and acted like he won the final on his own. Atlético was, once again, heartborken and left empty-handed.
This year, some of the usual participants from England are missing: Neither Chelsea nor Manchester United made the top-4-cut in the EPL. They are replaced by LEICESTER and Spurs. Will Leicester's run continue beyong the CL group stage? As champions, they will be in Pot 1. Lets look at the 22 teams that are already qualified for the Group stage:
|Barcelona||Bayern München||Sporting CP||Club Brugge|
|Real Madrid||Borussia Dortmund||Paris St. Germain||Besiktas|
|Atlético Madrid||Bayer Lverkusen||Olympique Lyon||FC Basel|
|Leicester City||Juventus||CSKA Moscow||Sevilla (EL Winner)|
|Tottenham Hotspur||Napoli||PSV Eindhoven|| |
|Arsenal FC||Benfica||Dynamo Kiev|| |
Notable changes: Swiss champion Basel is now directly qualified, while the Greek champions Olympiakos have been pushed back to the 3rd qualifying round.
Here are the fixtures for the first two qualifying rounds
Seeding for the League Route of the 3rd round
Seeded: Shakthar, Ajax, Anderlecht, Fenerbahce, Sparta Prague
Unseeded: PAOK, Steaua, Monaco, Young Boys Bern, Rostov
One of the most interesting questions during qualification will be if Red Bull Salzburg will finally manage to reach the Group Stage after the Red Bull takeover in 2005. Here is their CL history since then:
2006-07: lost 1-3 to Valencia in Q3
2007-08: lost 2-3 to Shakthar in Q3
2009-10: lost 1-5 to Maccabi Haifa in the play-off round
2010-11: lost 3-4 to Hapoel Tel Aviv in the play-off round
2011-12: lost 4-4 (away goals) to Dudelange (Luxembourg)
2013-14: lost 2-4 to Fenerbahce in Q3
2014-15: lost 2-4 to Malmö in the play-off round.
Can Real defend the title? Who will be the fourth semi-finalist besides Barca, Real and Bayern? Will Leicester conquer Europe? Will Ronaldo break 100 CL goals? (currently at 93)
Go go go.