You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Real Madrid have been crowned European champions for the third year straight... so what do their rivals Barcelona, PSG, Bayern Munich and others need to do to catch up?

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 28/05/2018 Adam Shergold
Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo gestures as he celebrates winning the Champions League with the trophy © REUTERS/Hannah McKay Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo gestures as he celebrates winning the Champions League with the trophy

It's Real Madrid. Again. The old masters of European football competition continue to write their own unique history, becoming the first team to win the Champions League three years in a row.

Saturday night's 3-1 win over Liverpool in Kiev ensured the famous jug-eared trophy will remain under lock and key in the Bernabeu for another 12 months.

It was far from a successful domestic season for Zinedine Zidane's side as they finished third, some 17 points behind their rivals Barcelona.

But nobody is remotely bothered about that now because when it really matters on the grandest stage of all, Real Madrid always deliver.

With their European Cup tally now an imperious 13, what must their continental rivals do to catch up?

a group of people posing for a photo: Real Madrid won the Champions League for the third consecutive year, beating Liverpool 3-1 © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Real Madrid won the Champions League for the third consecutive year, beating Liverpool 3-1

BARCELONA

a close up of a man throwing a ball: Lionel Messi reacts with dismay after Barcelona were stunned by Roma in the quarter-finals © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Lionel Messi reacts with dismay after Barcelona were stunned by Roma in the quarter-finals

Champions League 2017-18: Lost to Roma in the quarter-finals

Last time they won it: 2014-15

How painful Real Madrid's latest triumph must have been for their eternal rivals Barcelona. They won the league decisively, adding the Copa del Rey for good measure, then saw their achievements totally eclipsed once again.

Likewise for Lionel Messi, whose four Champions League triumphs have been overtaken by Cristiano Ronaldo, the Portuguese now also likely to scoop another Ballon d'Or in the New Year.

The humiliating manner of Barcelona's Champions League exit, surrendering a handsome lead against unfancied Roma, really hammered home how they have regressed in Europe since they last won in 2015.

Questions will be asked about whether Neymar would have made a difference to that tie against the Italians, maybe scoring or inspiring the extra goal that would have ultimately made the difference.

a group of football players on a field: Barcelona were left stunned as Roma fought back from a 4-1 first leg deficit to advance © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Barcelona were left stunned as Roma fought back from a 4-1 first leg deficit to advance

There is an overwhelming impression that Barcelona are in transition at the moment, with the departure of Andres Iniesta to Japan symbolising the passing of an old, glorious era.

And though they have spent enormous sums signing the likes of Ousmane Dembele, Paulinho and Philippe Coutinho, it's evident more is required to catch Real.

Though they clearly have a very good side, the summer will no doubt see reinforcements in defence and midfield at more great expense. Playing second fiddle to Real is completely unacceptable.

That defeat to Roma and the quarter-finals losses to Juventus and Atletico Madrid in the season before that suggest Barca have lost some of their Champions League aura. And that can't really be bought.

Related: Barcelona's end of season report (90min)

PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN

a man wearing a black shirt: Neymar's Paris Saint-Germain crashed out to Real Madrid in the Champions League last-16 © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Neymar's Paris Saint-Germain crashed out to Real Madrid in the Champions League last-16

Champions League 2017-18: Lost to Real Madrid in the last-16

Last time they won it: Never

The Paris Saint-Germain storm in the Champions League has been brewing for several years now. We're seen a few flickers of lightning and some distant thunder, but it's yet to really break.

Despite investment on historic levels, smashing the world transfer record to sign Neymar and backing that up with the signing of Kylian Mbappe from domestic rivals Monaco, they don't appear much further on.

Their last-16 exit to Real Madrid this season was pretty tame in the end, losing as they did home and away, and underlined that you can be richer than God but not necessarily buy success in Europe.

a group of people watching a football ball on a field: Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring for Real Madrid in the first leg of their tie with PSG © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring for Real Madrid in the first leg of their tie with PSG

Since the Qatari takeover, PSG still haven't been beyond the quarter-finals and the wait is becoming an increasingly frustrating one, especially given their absurd dominance of French football.

Their usual solution is to continue splashing the cash, but Mbappe, who was signed initially on loan with the payment to come this summer, has already taken a big chunk of this year's budget.

More than any other club, they are being pursued over Financial Fair Play and there doesn't actually appear to be much room for manoeuvre.

Having said that, they clearly boast a side packed with Champions League quality, including many former winners of the competition. It could be it comes together eventually, but how long can they wait?

At the moment they are a second-tier club in the Champions League.

Related: Six transfers likely to happen this summer (90min)

MANCHESTER CITY

a group of people posing for the camera: Pep Guardiola was forced to watch from the stands as Manchester City exited to Liverpool © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Pep Guardiola was forced to watch from the stands as Manchester City exited to Liverpool

Champions League 2017-18: Lost to Liverpool in the quarter-finals

Last time they won it: Never

For PSG, see also Manchester City. An abundance of cash and on the verge, most likely, of years of domestic dominance.

The Champions League has become almost a right for City over the past decade but one run to the semi-finals - when they lost to Real Madrid in 2016 - remains their best performance.

This season saw them out-run by Liverpool over two legs in the quarter-finals, a fate that happened to a number of other teams in fairness.

a group of football players on a field: City keeper Ederson can only watch on helplessly as Mohamed Salah scores for Liverpool © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited City keeper Ederson can only watch on helplessly as Mohamed Salah scores for Liverpool

Pep Guardiola's side have rewritten the Premier League record books but aren't going to sit still. New recruits in midfield and attack are anticipated this summer, though the vast spending of previous years probably won't be necessary.

The longer they fall short, the more the Champions League is going to become an obsession for City's players, manager, owners and fans.

For the club's Abu Dhabi owners, winning in Europe will be the ultimate justification for their mega-money project and they won't stop until City have made their mark at that level.

The whole reason they hired Guardiola - twice winner of the Champions League as manager - is to achieve this aim so we could see an all-or-nothing focus on winning it next season.

But the current perception is that City don't have the nous of Real Madrid in those high-pressure, business end ties. But they're surely not far off now.

Related: Manchester City's end of season report (90min)


BAYERN MUNICH

Robert Lewandowski wearing a uniform: Robert Lewandowski scored 41 goals for Bayern Munich last season - but can they keep him? © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Robert Lewandowski scored 41 goals for Bayern Munich last season - but can they keep him?

Champions League 2017-18: Lost to Real Madrid in semi-finals

Last time they won it: 2013-14

Bayern Munich last lifted the trophy in 2014. Since then, they have exited at the semi-finals stage in four of five seasons. It really has been so near and yet so far for the Germans.

Like others on this list, they dominate domestically, boasting a stranglehold on the Bundesliga that means they can concentrate on European competition more freely than most.

They're also wily old European campaigners but, at the moment, are just coming up short. Having lost 2-1 at home to Real Madrid, they caused all manner of problems in the Bernabeu before dropping out.

It was this heartache that probably led veterans Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery to extend their stays at the Allianz Arena, though some long-term succession planning is certainly needed.

a group of people watching a football game: Marco Asensio scores for Real Madrid in the Allianz Arena as Bayern fell short once again © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Marco Asensio scores for Real Madrid in the Allianz Arena as Bayern fell short once again

There's also the danger that talismanic striker Robert Lewandowski - scorer of 41 goals this season (the next highest was Thomas Muller with 15) - leaves for someone like Real Madrid this summer.

He will take some replacing, even if the core of the side is solid enough.

Given that the Bayern hierarchy take an admirable and principled stand on mega-money transfers, the club have done well to maintain such high standards.

But you do get the feeling that, ultimately, that additional bit of star dust may be what they need to crack Europe once again.

Related: Bayern Munich's end of season report (90min)

JUVENTUS

a man holding a basketball: Gonzalo Higuain celebrates scoring for Juventus in their last-16 tie with Tottenham © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Gonzalo Higuain celebrates scoring for Juventus in their last-16 tie with Tottenham

Champions League 2017-18: Lost to Real Madrid in quarter-finals

Last time they won it: 1995-96

Juventus almost pulled off the sensation of the season when they wiped out their 3-0 first leg deficit against Real Madrid inside the Bernabeu, only for Cristiano Ronaldo's contentious late penalty to leave them heartbroken.

The Italian giants are another example of a team that is invincible domestically but falls agonisingly short in the Champions League. They have been finalists twice in the last four seasons.

Their creaking defence was exposed by Real Madrid in the first leg of that quarter-final (and also by Tottenham in the last-16), so reinforcement will be required there to challenge properly again.

There is then the small matter of finding an heir to legendary goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who could be on his way to Paris Saint-Germain for a curtain call.

Juventus' European campaign ended in ignominy as Real Madrid knocked them out in Spain © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Juventus' European campaign ended in ignominy as Real Madrid knocked them out in Spain

Juve are certainly a good side going forward, though it is surprising that Paulo Dybala, their top scorer domestically, only scored once in eight Champions League games.

Luckily, Gonzalo Higuain and Mario Madzukic picked up the slack in Europe.

Juventus are a classic example of a side that needs to convert their absolute control of the Italian scene into a long-awaited European success - 22 years have passed since their last one, with five losing finals since then.

They don't have the money of many of their European rivals but know how to put together a winning side. A pivotal summer awaits in Turin.

Related: All the latest transfer rumours (Read Sport)

Gonzalo Higuain celebrates scoring for Juventus in their last-16 tie with Tottenham 

AdChoices
AdChoices

More From Daily Mail

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon