In 2014, then-manager Carlo Ancelotti led Real Madrid to a 4-0 win over Bayern Munich (their worst ever home defeat in Europe) on their way to their tenth Champions League title. Now he'll try to lift the trophy with the opposite club in a quarter-final matchup between first place teams in Germany and Spain. This is truly a toss-up and the type of matchup the UCL was created for. Bayern are peaking at just the right time of the season, with even 33 and 34 year old Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery hitting top form eight months into the season. Unfortunately for Bayern, they will be without Mats Hummels for the first leg, while Real will miss both Pepe and Raphael Varane. Both managers have taken a distinctly hands off approach - they were handed the world’s best players and decided that their squads would thrive without too much tinkering or robust restructuring. The two sides are both well-balanced - fearsome in attack and sturdy in defense - which should lead to an exciting back-and-forth.
Bayern last won the Champions League in 2013 and have since watched the trophy stay in Spain for three straight years, despite Pep leading them to four straight Bundesliga titles and the German national team atop international football. New manager Carlo Ancelotti’s charge is clear - get the Champions League trophy back to Munich. They’re bolstered by the additions of former Dortmund captain Mats Hummels and the Euros’ breakout young star, Renato Sanches. After losing in the semi-finals last year on away goals to Atletico Madrid, the German giants will be motivated to get back on top.
The record-holding 11 time winners will defend their current trophy without the usual summertime Galactico business. But, when your squad includes the likes of Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Toni Kroos and Karim Benzema, finally finding consistency is a positive. We have yet to see Zinedine Zidane take a full season at the helm with all the pressure the toughest gig in management provides - how he responds to turbulent times will determine the length of his tenure. The expectations for this squad are the same as every season: win every trophy they compete for. With their aforementioned attacking prowess bolstered by a reliable defense, they could do just that.
Equal parts bruiser and magician, Vidal won Serie A in each of his four seasons at Juventus.
Scored 42 goals in all competitions last season and began the new Bundesliga season with a hat trick.