Europe’s most prestigious competition returns on September 14, 2021.
The UEFA Champions League 2021-22 is now around the corner. With the group stage draw in place, the upcoming season promises to be an exciting edition. The return of the fans in the UCL’s breath-taking home and away atmospheres will be welcomed back with a warm embrace.
There are some exciting match-ups in the group stage this season. Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain, two of the richest clubs presently, go head-to-head in an exciting Group A. Tournament veterans, AC Milan, also make a comeback to the competition for the first time since 2014. FC Barcelona and Bayern Munich, who have had their fair share of success in this century, have also been placed together.
An exciting season of top-level European football awaits us. Khel Now takes a look at five teams who could impress everyone in the 2021/22 edition of the UCL.
The Serie A outfit have been one of the most improved teams in Europe and Italy over the last few years. Gian Piero Gasperini’s men went on a dream run in the 19/20 UCL, when they reached the quarter-finals and suffered a narrow, last-minute loss to Paris Saint-Germain.
In the previous campaign, Atalanta made it to the knockout rounds once again but lost against Real Madrid in the Round of 16. However, they have shown over the years that they are not a team, who are to be taken lightly. On their day, the Italian outfit can score past their opposition for fun.
It was yet another positive domestic season last year when Atalanta finished third in the Serie A. Subsequently, they held onto most of their prized assets and made some shrewd additions too. Despite the departure of their most talented defender Christian Romero, they were able to replace the Argentine with Merih Demiral from Juventus. Goalkeeper Juan Musso and midfielder Teun Koopmeiners are both excellent signings as well. The Italian outfit will look to improve upon their previous few seasons and cause a few upsets this year.
4. Manchester United
One of the best English clubs in the competition, Manchester United will look to regain their spot among Europe’s elite. The outfit have now gone four years without a trophy. However, this season could be the one that changes things for the Red Devils. Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer deserves a lot of credit for his squad-building at the club. In the summer window, Man United have exceeded all expectations. The long-awaited signing of Jadon Sancho was coupled with the dream acquisition of serial winner Raphael Varane.
Nonetheless, the Red Devils were truly on cloud nine after the club confirmed the return of their hero Cristiano Ronaldo. The 36-year-old and five-time Ballon d’Or winner has returned to Manchester United after 12 years. With the signing of Varane, the much-needed mentality of a winner was brought to the side. Now, with the arrival of Ronaldo, Man United have someone, who is a step above the Frenchman. The duo won four UEFA Champions League titles together at Real Madrid – thereby boosting Man United’s chances astronomically.
3. Atletico Madrid
Atletico Madrid are building in the direction to become one of Europe’s most dangerous sides. Last season, Diego Simeone’s men overcame Barcelona and Real Madrid to win the La Liga. Despite their domestic success, Atletico Madrid have failed to perform on the big stage since consecutive final defeats in the Champions League between 2015 and 2017.
This season, Atletico Madrid have strengthened an already extremely stable side. They have acquired star midfielder Rodrigo De Paul and Brazilian forward Matheus Cunha. However, the marquee signing has to be Antoine Griezmann’s return to Atletico from Barcelona. The French forward re-signed for the outfit on a loan deal this season.
With a motivated Luis Suarez and Joao Felix in Simeone’s arsenal, Atletico Madrid could be the surprise package this season and challenge for Europe’s biggest crown.
The defending champions of the European title, Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea have begun this season right where they left off. Last term, Tuchel guided Chelsea to European glory against all odds. The German tactician has done a remarkable job since he arrived in London as Frank Lampard’s replacement. Under him, the Blues look like a side, who are very difficult to beat.
Chelsea’s main area of struggle was converting the chances that they created. To address the problem of goalscoring, the Blues signed Romelu Lukaku from Inter Milan in a record deal. The Belgian will be a shrewd addition to Chelsea’s firepower and can help them push opponents aside. Saul Niguez from Atletico Madrid is also an exciting prospect for the Blues.
Chelsea’s biggest strength coming into this season has to be their depth. The outfit have a lot of excellent players at their disposal. Tuchel’s man-management will be key to the Blues’ unthinkable back-to-back Champions League successes.
1. Paris Saint-Germain
With the summer window that Paris Saint-Germain have had, it is impossible to have such a discussion without mentioning them. The outfit have made some of the most eye-catching transfers this summer. Players like Sergio Ramos, Gini Wijnaldum, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Achraf Hakimi and not to mention, Lionel Messi have all joined the club.
It has been a transfer window to remember for the Parisians. However, this business comes at a cost, a cost that is the pressure to perform and win. The Champions League title has proved elusive for the French outfit, since the Qatari takeover 10 years ago.
This summer, they have added another set of talented players. Further, they were successfully able to fend off interest from Real Madrid for Kylian Mbappe. The Los Blancos offered as much as north of €180m for the Frenchman, who has just a year left on his contract. PSG’s decision to reject such a lucrative offer shows their desire to win the UCL title.