The 2019/20 Champions League is now underway, with a number of prominent clubs emerging from their respective spheres of domestic success in an attempt to collect Europe’s most prestigious accolade in club competition.
After falling fractionally short in 2018, Liverpool rose to the task in Madrid and were crowned Champions of Europe for the sixth time in their illustrious history, whilst also earning the first silverware of the Jurgen Klopp era on Merseyside.
After a season that saw four English clubs in the quarter-final stages, there can be no doubting that Premier League sides are likely to be at the forefront of competing for the 2020 Champions League title.
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Pep Guardiola’s imperious Manchester City have excelled during the Spaniard’s tenure in domestic competitions, consecutively winning Premier League titles, yet the Champions League remains a jewel that is yet to find its way into the crown of their Emirati owners.
Understandably, the Citizens are favourites to lift the 2020 Champions League for the first time in their history, but Guardiola will have to ensure that injuries to key players such as Aymeric Laporte do not disrupt their bid to write history. Veteran striker Sergio Aguero has started the league season in fine form, scoring a total of seven goals and at least one in every league game so far in 2019/20.
The Citizens will aim to transfer their exceptional domestic success into their exploits on the continent, but given the depth and sheer quality of Guardiola’s squad, it is unsurprising they are leading the way as front-runners for Europe’s premier club competition.
Despite a 100% winning start to their domestic campaign, Klopp’s Liverpool came unstuck at the hands of Napoli on Tuesday night in a 2-0 defeat.
Worryingly for the Reds, they fielded a first-choice XI in Naples, but for the reigning Champions this could arguably be a well-timed wake-up call as to the size of the task they are facing in retaining their title. The eclectic front-three of Mohamed Salah, Saido Mane and Roberto Firmino will aim to propel the Reds towards the top of group E, with attractive fixtures against Red Bull Salzburg and Genk to come later in the group stage.
Liverpool will be aiming to reach the last-16 and then charge to a third consecutive Champions League final, as they aim to make it seven European trophies and a second under Klopp.
Last season, Mauricio Pochettino and Spurs reached the Champions League final for the first time in the club’s history. Despite losing to Liverpool in a tense final in Madrid, the transformation of the Lilywhites from frail domestic competitors to having considerable European pedigree is testament to the job their Argentinian boss has done in north London.
Having learnt from their previous shortcomings alongside the experience gained from reaching the final, it would be unwise to rule out a Spurs side featuring the likes of Harry Kane, Heung-min Son and Christian Eriksen from making another deep run into the Champions League knock-outs.