This season’s Champions League may have been a disappointing one for English sides, but as the remaining eight teams edge closer to tasting glory, debate has intensified around which of those teams can go on to lift the trophy. Last season’s winners, Real Madrid, remain in the contest, but will have to get past reigning La Liga champions – and last season’s runners-up – Atletico in what is sure to be a stern task for both sides. Perennial favourites, and fellow La Liga outfit, Barcelona also remain in the mix, but themselves face a tough task when they come face to face with Paris Saint Germain. Former champions Bayern Munich also find themselves still there and will have to advance past Portuguese club Porto if they are to make it to the final four.
Two-time Champions League winners Juventus, meanwhile, will be hoping to end their 19-year-long wait to add that elusive third trophy to their cabinet when they take on Monaco.
The last time the Old Lady lifted the trophy, way back in 1996, Fabrizio Ravanelli found the net in the final against Ajax only to see his striker cancelled out by future Liverpool star Jari Litmanen, though the Italians would go on to claim the title on penalties, ending the Dutch outfit’s hopes of defending the trophy they had won 12 months previously. This time around, however, Juventus find themselves some way off the ranking as favourites, though bookmakers certainly seem to fancy the Serie A champions to some degree – a tempting 8/1 is available from SkyBet.
Domestically, Massimiliano Allegri’s men are looking good to retain their crown as they sit some way ahead of current runners-up Roma, and will be hoping to secure what would be their 31st top-flight title in the coming weeks – their 14 point advantage with 10 games to go certainly makes it difficult to see anyone catching them. On the European front they have struggled a bit more so far despite their continued presence in the competition, having finished the group stages as runners-up to the aforementioned Atletico and losing two games out of six in the process. Since the knockout stages commenced, however, things have looked rosy – two impressive victories over struggling Borussia Dortmund paved the way to the quarters, while Monaco edged past Arsenal on the away goals rule – impressive certainly to get three against Arsene Wenger’s men, but Juve made their games look easy against admittedly underperforming opposition.
The news that midfielder Claudio Marchisio could be absent for up to eight months with a cruciate ligament injury is certainly a blow, but they have several vastly experienced alternatives to tide them over until Marchisio’s return next season. Juventus may struggle to win the European crown this time around, but advancement to the semis could certainly be on the cards, and that will surely serve as a foundation to build on next season.