Make way for His Majesty, the Champions League. Today, European football is putting on its finery once again, with eight of its stadiums playing for the first time this season the anthem of the Champions League, the most coveted club-level competition in the world. On Wednesday it will sound in another eight stadiums and in some of them there will be even an audience. It will be a different Champions League, there is no doubt, in which it will be strange not to see the atmosphere of the great nights at Anfield, Old Trafford, the Camp Nou, the Pizjuán or the Bernabéu, but there will be the ball, which is the true protagonist. A party is not better because the house has a pool, but because the guests have a good time. And in this Champions, fun is guaranteed.
For starters, because there is a villain worthy of a James Bond movie to beat, Bayern Munich. Faced with a challenge such as dethroning the German giant, the applicants can only be expected to give 1,000% to try to knock down a team that won its sixth Orejona last year as an almost insulting superiority. Barcelona still have the aftermath of the beating that Lewandowski and the rest of his gang of thugs (Müller, Coman, Kimmichi, Davies …) gave him.
And it's hard to believe, but the reality, at least that's how bettors see it, is that Spanish teams are not among the favorites to snatch the crown from the Bavarian team. It is the first time in the 21st century that neither Real Madrid nor Barcelona appear among the three main candidates to lift the Champions League, which this year will conclude with the final on May 29 in Istanbul. That place in which we had become used to seeing whites and Catalans is now occupied, in addition to Bayern, a clear favorite, Guardiola's Manchester City, Klopp's Liverpool and Neymar and Mbappé's PSG. Citizens and Parisians will bear, one more year, with the slab of their continuous disappointments in Europe during the last decade, in which neither of them could crown their Machiavellian projects with a European Cup that overshadows their great stars and their petrodollars.
For its part, Liverpool, which finally removed its thorn from the Premier after 30 years, does not seem to have lowered the bar in this new season and its reliability is unquestionable, although the losses of Van Dijk and Thiago make it seem a bit weaker than a few weeks ago.
Atlético, Sevilla, a completely renovated Chelsea and a Dortmund with two of the most talented youngsters in the world (Sancho and Haaland) aspire to be the big surprises in a Champions League with four rookies: Krasnodar, Basaksehir, Rennes and Midtjylland. Let the party begin.