Ranking the top 5 teams most likely to win the UEFA Champions League in 2021-22

Real Madrid, Champions League, Carlo Ancelotti (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Champions League, Carlo Ancelotti (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images) /
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Real Madrid (Photo by AFP) (Photo by -/AFP via Getty Images)
Real Madrid (Photo by AFP) (Photo by -/AFP via Getty Images) /

3. Real Madrid

Yes, the thirteen-time winners of the Holy Grail in club football, Real Madrid will only make their way up to the third position. There are reasons too. Firstly, Real Madrid was drawn into an easy group with only Inter standing out as a worthy opponent. The group featured one heroic upset coming at hands of FC Sheriff, but Champions League upsets are understandable, aren’t they?

In that easy group, Inter Milan couldn’t be half the opponents to Real Madrid that I expected them to be and that is why no one can make a bet on Los Blancos to have already proven themselves against tough oppositions in the competition so far. The first game at San Siro was intense but the second one at Bernabeu was a comfortable victory with two absolutely unstoppable goals. They are up against PSG in the Round of 16 which is also a key reason given Real Madrid hasn’t faced any real tough opposition; they have been the bosses in their territory so far. But, I am still placing them third on this list for key reasons.

Firstly, Real Madrid has found back their goal-scoring form. I understand the odds being against them especially because they are coming on the backdrop of a trophy-less season and the world has lacked Real Madrid big-game performances lately. They have, however, shown glimpses of it on the domestic stage, the Spanish Supercup triumph had a resilient showing in the semifinal against Barcelona, they had two brilliant comeback performances against Elche very recently too. But, there’s the problem, Barcelona and Elche aren’t clubs against whom a side like Real Madrid claiming to be Champions League favorites need to struggle at all.

Another key reason behind Real Madrid having the third-best chances of winning the trophy this year is the return of a beloved manager, Carlo Ancelotti. As we all remember, the Italian coach was the one to lead Real Madrid to La Decima glory and he could be the one to lead them back to another title after a few seasons of drought. The stories so far have been similar – head-scratching matches, injury-time winners, extra-time drama, everything seems to be brewing to another 92:48-esque story by the end of the season.

Real Madrid’s squad depth, as I previously argued is an under-rated aspect of the Spanish Giants and it is expected to pay them back during this business end of the season. The return of Antonio Pintus as the conditioning coach will also have a lot of impact on reducing medical risks. The number has been lower than what it was last season at least. And, the squad looks fitter, thanks to Pintus. All things considered, could this be the year for La Decimocuarta? Oh, how I hope it is!