SEVERE WX : Freeze Watch View Alerts

Can Cristiano Ronaldo and Juve realize Champions League dream?

New club, same superstar -- this year's Champions League will have a different complexion following Cristian...

Posted: Aug 30, 2018 12:11 PM
Updated: Aug 30, 2018 12:11 PM

New club, same superstar -- this year's Champions League will have a different complexion following Cristiano Ronaldo's high-profile move to Juventus.

Ronaldo has helped Real Madrid lift the most coveted trophy in club football four times in the past five years, but his departure from the Spanish side, along with manager Zinedine Zidane, means this year's competition is one of the hardest to call in recent seasons.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Football (Soccer)

La Liga

Real Madrid CF

Soccer events

Sports and recreation

Sports events

Sports figures

Sports organizations and teams

UEFA Champions League

Beaten finalist in 2015 and 2017, Italian champion Juventus will be hopeful that Ronaldo, the Champions League's all-time top goal scorer, can fire the Bianconeri to a first European Cup since 1996.

"He'll do what he's been doing for the last 10 years, he'll bring goals to Juventus and I fancy Juventus to win the Champions League this year solely for the fact Cristiano has gone there," English striker Wayne Rooney, a former teammate of Ronaldo at Manchester United, recently told CNN.

Europe's top five nations do, however, each possess a side capable of toppling Ronaldo and Juventus. As with previous editions, Manchester City, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich are being mentioned among the favorites.

READ: Tottenham star Son Heung-min closes in on national service

Winning club football's most prestigious prize has not insignificant financial benefits. Prize money of $1.5 billion was last year distributed between participating clubs -- from the qualifying rounds to the final -- while winners Real Madrid walked away with over $100 million.

First up, however, is the group stage draw, which takes place Thursday in Monaco.

The group format remains the same -- eight pools comprising of four teams each, with no more than one club from a single nation in each group.

Final seedings will be decided following Wednesday's final round of qualifiers, after which teams are drawn from four pots.

Teams at the top

The top of the draw features holder Real Madrid, Europa League winner Atletico Madrid, and the domestic champions from Spain, Germany, England, Italy, France and Russia, with the latter's Lokomotiv Moscow the clear underdog.

Manchester City will be hoping to replicate domestic success in Europe this season, and the feeling amongst Pep Guardiola's players is that a Champions League title is within their reach.

"In Manchester last season we had a feeling that we are ready for it," midfielder Ilkay Gundogan told German newspaper WAZ. "It was not enough. This year nothing has changed in this feeling.

"I believe that we are even a bit more mature. We have the potential to become Champions League winners."

READ: Jose Mourinho demands more 'respect' after humbling defeat

Guardiola, who masterminded the English champion's record-breaking season last year, won the Champions League twice with Barcelona but has since failed to take a side beyond the semifinals.

Qatari-backed PSG has been chasing European glory for the best part of a decade, but new boss Thomas Tuchel dismissed talk of winning the Champions League when he replaced Unai Emery at the end last season.

In Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, and Edinson Cavani, however, Tuchel has arguably the most feared strike force in European football.

German champion Bayern Munich, the last non-Spanish Champions League winner in 2013, was unlucky to fall short against Real Madrid in last year's semifinals. Niko Kovac has replaced Jupp Heynckes at the club's helm.

Atletico Madrid is also expected to shine after winning the Europa League last season -- Europe's second-tier club competition -- and overcoming rival Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup.

Barcelona has fallen at the quarterfinals in the past three seasons; Ernesto Valverde's side will hope to avoid Roma -- its nemesis last year -- in the group stages.

Who plays who?

Below the competition's heavyweights in pot two are sides capable of topping any Champions League pool.

Tottenham did just that last year, defeating Real Madrid at Wembley in the process, while Roma reached the semifinals after mounting a stunning comeback against Barcelona.

Manchester United may be a side in disarray having already suffered two Premier League defeats, but Jose Mourinho's star-studded side will still hope to go further than the last 16 stage than they managed last season after being surprisingly knocked out by Sevilla.

READ: Don't write off Manchester United and Mourinho, says Rooney

Napoli, meanwhile, is under the watchful eye of new manager Carlo Ancelotti, who has led sides to three Champions League titles. The Italian outfit fell just short of winning its first Serie A title since 1990 last season.

Benfica's qualification on Wednesday means last year's finalist Liverpool will be drawn from pot three. Teams higher up the draw will be desperate to avoid Jurgen Klopp's men and a firing Mohamed Salah.

Visit cnn.com/football for more news and videos

The first group stage games will take place on September 18, with the eventual champion crowned at Madrid's Wanda Metropolitano on June 1.

Lafayette
Partly Cloudy
62° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 62°
Kokomo
Partly Cloudy
60° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 60°
Rensselaer
Cloudy
57° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 57°
Lafayette
Partly Cloudy
62° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 62°
Danville
Partly Cloudy
59° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 59°
Frankfort
Clear
59° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 59°
Frankfort
Clear
59° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 59°
Monticello
Partly Cloudy
59° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 59°
Monticello
Partly Cloudy
59° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 59°
Logansport
Partly Cloudy
59° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 59°
Mild Monday Before Snow And Freezing Conditions
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 708067

Reported Deaths: 13224
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion964881721
Lake51704945
Allen39185672
Hamilton34497405
St. Joseph34075540
Elkhart27306432
Vanderburgh22077394
Tippecanoe21818212
Porter17940299
Johnson17526374
Hendricks16803310
Clark12688190
Madison12350337
Vigo12211244
Monroe11462166
LaPorte11140204
Delaware10356184
Howard9662211
Kosciusko9127114
Hancock7979139
Bartholomew7888155
Warrick7684155
Floyd7560176
Wayne6899198
Grant6842171
Boone6552100
Morgan6395138
Dubois6084117
Marshall5783108
Dearborn570076
Cass5684102
Henry5577100
Noble542483
Jackson493269
Shelby479095
Lawrence4342118
Gibson428789
Harrison428170
Clinton419053
Montgomery417986
DeKalb410984
Whitley379639
Huntington379480
Miami372565
Knox366389
Steuben365257
Putnam352660
Jasper350546
Wabash347778
Adams337952
Ripley334668
Jefferson313180
White308354
Daviess289299
Wells286381
Decatur278992
Fayette277162
Greene270685
Posey268833
Scott261153
Clay253444
LaGrange253070
Randolph235680
Washington230931
Spencer227931
Jennings224747
Fountain208745
Sullivan207842
Starke204352
Owen192256
Fulton191739
Jay186129
Carroll185820
Perry180336
Orange177853
Rush170724
Vermillion166043
Franklin165635
Tipton160943
Parke144616
Blackford133831
Pike130334
Pulaski113645
Newton103934
Brown100140
Crawford97614
Benton97113
Martin82815
Warren79615
Switzerland7698
Union69910
Ohio55811
Unassigned0409

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events