By 90Min
October 02, 2018

The Champions League is the most prestigious and highly coveted club trophy in the world. By proxy, it's also the hardest competition to master - there will always be upsets in a knockout competition, especially one which encompasses the pinnacle of European football. 

But even with the competition still at its premature stage, there will be the usual suspects for those who see the group stage as little more than a formality. 

Ahead of the next round of fixtures, here are six teams who, without any major malfunctions, should drift seamlessly through this season's competition.


Barcelona

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When you have Lionel Messi, football seems a little bit easier. The Argentine marvel scored his eighth Champions League hat-trick against PSV Eindhoven in the 4-0 hammering, showing his intent to climb back to the peak of individual greatness. 

Those goals took Messi's group stage tally to 63 in 64 games. After the 31-year-old's snub at The Best FIFA Football Awards 2018, there can't be anything more dangerous in football than Messi as a 'wounded animal.' Barca have admittedly fallen short in recent years at the competition's final hurdles, but their presence and threat can never be denied and they'll be desperate to overturn Real's recent dominance this year. You've been warned.


Real Madrid

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If you thought that Real Madrid's monotonous grip on the Champions League trophy would automatically loosen after losing the competition's most successful marksman, it might not be that simple. 


Gareth Bale seems to have taken on the poster-boy mantle this season, stepping out of Cristiano's shadow. The 3-0 dispatching of last season's semi-finalists without ever breaking stride - especially in the case of Bale's goal - was, quite simply, frightening. 


With a new era having started under Lopetegui, Real Madrid will not be without their challenges this season, but continued progress in the competition is expected. Their status as the club most synonymous with the competition shall remain for years to come.


Juventus

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No Cristiano Ronaldo, no problem you say? Well make that two birds with one stone. Because, even with the departure of their new signing - who was bought with the specific purpose of breaking their European final voodoo - the Old Lady looked serenely calm in their opener. 

When CR7 does restore himself back to firing on all cylinders, coupled with a Juve team that performs to it's full potential, they should be considered serious contenders this season, dare I say it, even favourites? 


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Bayern Munich

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Bayern Munich are going about their usual dominant business in the Bundesliga, and always bring with them a potent threat in Europe. 


Renato Sanches' sudden resurgence has been a pleasant surprise, Kingsley Coman's return is also coming while James Rodriguez can officially call Munich home. There have been some qualms about their collective age, but it's a team that simply has too much quality around the pitch. It would be impossible to imagine not see them threatening at the final stages. 


Atletico Madrid

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With the retention of Antoine Griezmann and the addition of Thomas Lemar, Atletico Madrid have had a much better summer than people would have expected. They look strong, together and have a manager that takes passion and discipline to a whole new level.

They have often proven their impervious selves in the Champions League, showing all their nous to reach numerous finals with Simeone. Despite the anguish at falling twice to their city rivals at the final hurdle, many still fancy Los Rojiblancos to finally get over the European line in 2018/19.


Liverpool

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That's right, Liverpool's all-conquering journey across Europe is showing no signs of slowing down. Of course, they were eventually conquered at the final hurdle in June, but why mention that?

They certainly didn't seem to be affected, putting in a majestic display against supposed challengers Paris Saint-Germain. Yes, the Reds were their effective selves going forward, but the scariest thing for rivals will be the assured nature of the rearguard this time out. 

There seems to be nothing Andy Robertson can't do, and the same applies to midfield enforcer James Milner. Virgil van Dijk has given them a stability at the back that Liverpool fans haven't seen since Sami Hyypiä, while Trent Alexander-Arnold looks like a star-in-the-making. Can they go one step further in 2018/19? We'll find out. 


This article is brought to you by Falken Tyres. Find out more about Falken Tyres here.

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