As the Champions League reaches its further stages, Europe's elite will do battle to see who is crowned champions of Europe.
Top teams from across Europe hailing from England’s Premier League , Spain’s La Liga, Germany’s Bundesliga and France's Ligue Un will take on the big stage as they seek European domination.
Be it the symbolic anthem, the feared contestants or simply the sensational history, the footballing world has always held this illustrious tournament in the greatest esteem.
Ever since its foundation in 1954, the star-strewn sphere of the Champions League had stood as a symbol of honour, respect and greatness.
Famously cited as the most competitive tournament on the planet, the UEFA Champions League features some of the biggest names in world football.
GMS looks at five of the leading candidates to claim the prize.
1. FC Bayern Munich
Under the expert apprenticeship of coach Guardiola, the reigning European Champions, Bayern, are already enjoying a stellar season with some of the biggest names in their ranks.
The beasts of the Bundesliga have been busy vandalising clubs across Europe for quite some time now as their star-studded line-up continues to shatter defences.
Bayern’s unchallenged supremacy this season cannot be underestimated in any way as they remain Europe’s most feared adversary.
Having already sealed the Budesliga title with a record seven games to spare, and with the DFB-Ligapokal hovering in touching distance, the Bavarians look all set to take the European stage by storm.
Boasting a star-studded roster armed with flawless form, The German champions head into the European arena as the hottest favourites, seeking to salvage their elated hopes for a second consecutive treble.
2. FC Barcelona
With the echoes of their 7-0 humiliation to Bayern Munich last season still fresh in their memory, the Spanish champions are aspiring to rise from their ashes as they head into the closing stages.
Spearheaded by the player of his generation Lionel Messi and his South American compatriot Neymar, Barca’s attacking prowess remains, as always, a serious threat to the heirs of the European crown.
Having already managed impressive results under the little known Tata Martino, the Spanish champions are more than capable of pulling off an unexpected surprise on the world stage.
Following a 4-1 trampling of Manchester City, the Catalan giants advanced into the quarter-final phase of the tournament wherethey meet league rivals Atletico Madrid.
With the likes of Xavi, Messi and Iniesta orchestrating Barca’s symbolic passing philosophy, the iconic Tika Taka may turn out to be the Blaugrana’s winning strategy this time around.
3. Real Madrid CF
Staying in line with their traditional 'Galactico' policy as always, the big-spenders of Madrid proudly proclaim themselves home to some of the most promising prodigies on the planet.
From the unrivalled master-class of Cristiano Ronaldo to the lightning pace of Gareth Bale, Real Madrid's big name roster goes on and on.
With former PSG boss Carlo Ancelotti seated at the helm, Real are certainly one of those clubs with the calibre of a champion.
But as the old saying goes, money can’t buy you everything.
In spite of sacrificing hefty sums for acquiring some of the biggest names on the planet, the Spanish club’s Champions League drought drags into its 12th year.
A struggle with instability and an unfortunate turn of events have left the Spanish giants cowering in 3rd place in the league, three points adrift of rivals Atletico.
However, with an incredibly talented squad and an experienced manager, this may be Real's year once more.
4. Chelsea F.C
Hinted as the dark horses of Europe this season, the Blues may perhaps stand a solid chance of making the impossible possible.
With a wealth of young talent at the disposal of coach Jose Mourinho and with enough options to implement an effective rotation policy, the Londoners seem one of the more composed and balanced sides on the continent.
With the likes of Hazard and Oscar operating at the heart of their midfield, backed up by a bulletproof defence of Terry and Luiz, the English giants also boast one of world’s best 'keepers, Petr Cech.
The startling fashion in which Chelsea surprised the world in the 2012 Champions League is certainly a memory that shall live long.
And with the ‘Special One' now at the helm, something similarly ‘special’ might just perplex the world in a similar style.
5. Paris Saint-Germain
With one of the biggest names in world football having joined their ranks, the mega-rich club hailing from the iconic city of Paris is indeed a deserving candidate for this list.
With an unparalleled arsenal of weapons at their disposal, the Parisans also boast some of the most unique footballing talents instilled in the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edison Cavani and Thiago Silva.
The exceptional striking duo of Zlatan and Cavani is already one of most feared attacking partnerships in all of Europe.
However, with the likes of Bayern and Barcelona boldly patrolling the European corridors, many may suggest that this young club may struggle against the top sides. However, spearheaded by one the biggest entertainers in world football, the mighty Zlatan and his prolific striking partner might just drag the underdogs to unprecedented glory.
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