Manchester United may be the defending Champions of English football, but their makeup is nothing compared to the makeup of their biggest European rivals, Real Madrid.
Comparing a lineup that has Raul, Gonzalo Higuain, Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Raul Albiol, Pepe, Sergio Ramos, Wesley Sneijder, and Arjen Robben to Manchester's Michael Owen, Antonio Valencia, Darren Fletcher, Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand, and Nemanja Vidic is like comparing mangoes to apples.
Both are popular fruits, but the mango proves to be the softer and sweeter of the two.
Manchester United would have to be the apple in this equation, but Real Madrid's captivating summer spree already has bookmakers, pundits, and fans alike thinking La Liga titles and possibly Champions League success are in store.
For now, we will solely focus on Madrid and Manchester out of respect to Barcelona...or not, depending on how you read into it.
Real Madrid look like a team that could do wonders in La Liga and elsewhere for seasons to come, with addition of France's top forward Benzema and Manchester United's winger Ronaldo coming into the fold.
Ronaldo glowingly spoke of Kaka and Benzema respectively, stating that he can't wait to link up with his new teammates and believes he'll garner more success at Madrid than he garnered at Manchester during his entire six seasons there.
Benzema is the latest French prodigy to have left France while yet to come of age, and at a tender age of 21, he is already drawing comparisons to French scoring legend Just Fontaine, who led France in the 1958 World Cup with an astonishing 13 goals in the tournament—a feat still not broken till this day.
Manchester United, on the other hand, still have Rooney and Ferdinand to lead the charges, but it's a far cry from the team that competed for the Champions League trophy this past season for sure.
Expectations are that Manchester will stumble out of the gate, with the absence of Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez a major factor. New signings Valencia and Owen will not make up for Ronaldo's quickness and goal-scoring abilities, but they should nevertheless provide a good cover up front.
However, one would have to look at Manchester City across the road and wonder if City, not United, can actually make a real challenge for the Premiership honors this season.
Manchester City have a richness of young talent coming up through the ranks from its academy, not to mention top quality players such as Robinho, Gareth Barry, Roque Santa Cruz, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Stephen Ireland, Vincent Kompany, and Nigel De Jong on the starting 11.
So it would be easy to say that Manchester City have the easier road ahead for next season, not Manchester United. All Manchester City need to do is to bring up their young talent while meshing the current makeup of the senior together and, if necessary, hire a more experienced and better quality manager.
Mark Hughes is a good fit, but I wouldn't bet my money on this man to carry Manchester City to the next level. A good test of that would a dream City versus Madrid matchup.
Perhaps if City were to come across a team like Real and Barcelona and compete against those teams evenly, then City supporters could have every right to boast about their club's chances.
United supporters ironically don't have that luxury for now, since the club suddenly is realizing that it doesn't have a Ronaldo or Robinho, or an Ireland or even Tevez—a sad twist of luck if you ask the average Joe.
Whether Manchester United, like Real Madrid, can maintain its dominant form into the next season remains to be seen, but my money is squarely now on Real Madrid to reach the pinnacle of success.
At home and abroad. Football-wise and marketing-wise as well. No exceptions.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!