This week I am going to take a quick break from Premier League and instead give my Top Five UEFA Champion's League Power Rankings. Basically it's going to be how I see the tournament ending up, the fifth team being my dark horse to potentially make some waves.
UEFA Champions League always brings the drama and this season is no exception, the question is....who will be the hero?
5. Bayer Leverkusen
So here is my dark horse. I know this one could really blow up in my face, as they could easily be knocked out this week by Atletico Madrid, but I feel like this under the radar side could have one of those "but damn do they have heart!" runs through the quarters and more. Don't get me wrong, I would love to see a Dortmund pull a ......Dortmund and rise from the ashes in their match against Juventus, but this year I think the Bundesliga team (besides Bayern Munich) who has the best chance of shaking things up is Bayer 04 Leverkusen.
This one is a tough one for me, because although I am supposed to stay mostly non biased, I will admit that I am a Bundesliga fan and more importantly, I am a Dortmund fan. The biased side of me says "never give up", but the realistic side of me says Juventus seems to be on a mission this season. They've been dominating Serie A for the last four years and this year it looks like there may be shades of 1995-96 UCL run (and yes Pirlo was playing then....only he was playing for Brescia).
Truth is, a part of me feels like Juventus deserves to be higher on this list.
3. Bayern Munich
Bayern Munich is currently locked up in a 0-0 draw after Leg 1 in the Quarter Finals with Shakhtar, however it is hard not to feel like these giants of Bundesliga, as well as UEFA Champions League will be there near the very end. Their team is stacked with World Cup Champions, as well as World Cup Runners Up and players who have lifted the Champion's League trophy. This might not be their most dominating UCL so far, but I expect to see them down to the wire.
They could be the most popular team around the world right now. I remember years ago when I would see youngsters sporting Manchester United jerseys here in the states and every once in a while you would see a Barcelona jersey sprinkled in, these days it seems like the tables have flipped. It's not a shock that with players like Messi and Neymar Jr. that you would establish a widespread fan base and it's also not a shock that having players of that caliber results in UEFA Champions League bids. After missing out on the finals for the past three tournaments, you know they are hungry and looking for their 5th title (European Cup/UCL).
1. Real Madrid
I love to support the underdogs for the most part, but realistically I do see the reigning champs defending their title come June in Berlin. They've blazed through each portion of the 2015 UCL and even when they aren't firing on all cylinders, they are extremely hard to beat (being worth as much as many moderate sized countries can do that for you).
This is just my modest speculation of course and the soccer Gods know I would love to see a tight, unpredictable march to Berlin. With all that said though....I do predict that Cristiano and company will hoist their 11th title (European Cup/UCL).