Now that every major European league has officially kicked off and the beginning of the Champions League is getting closer and closer, it's time to take a look at the best teams in Europe.
The following list contains the five strongest teams in Europe at the moment (in my opinion). Obviously, these five teams have better chances of lifting the Champions League trophy in May than any other team.
I don't exclude the possibility of another team winning the competition, but I must say that I would be really surprised if that happened.
Here is the list.
GK: Edwin van der Sar
LB: Patrice Evra
CB: Rio Ferdinand
CB: Nemanja Vidic
RB: John O'Shea
CM: Darren Fletcher/Michael Carrick
CM: Paul Scholes
RM: Park Ji-Sung/Ryan Giggs
CF: Dimitar Berbatov/Javier Hernandez/Michael Owen
CF: Wayne Rooney
After FC Barcelona, Manchester United has been the most successful team in the Champions League for the past five editions, with one title, one final appearance, a semifinal, and a quarterfinal. Sir Alex Ferguson has shown time and again that he is arguably the best coach in the world (his resumé speaks for itself) and that he has what it takes to lead Manchester United to European glory.
While Ferguson is at the helm, Manchester United will always be a force to be reckoned with. After a disappointing quarterfinal loss to Bayern Munich last season, Manchester United will look to improve on that performance. If their key players stay healthy (especially Rooney), they could go all the way.
The most notable signing Alex Ferguson made was Javier Hernandez, a very talented young Mexican player who might wreak havoc in this year's Champions League.
GK: Hans-Jörg Butt
LB: Diego Contento/Edson Braafheid
CB: Daniel van Buyten
CB: Martin Demichelis
RB: Philipp Lahm
LM: Franck Ribéry
DM: Mark van Bommel
CM: Bastian Schweinsteiger/Toni Kroos
RM: Arjen Robben
CF: Thomas Muller
CF: Miroslav Klose/Ivica Olić
Just like their lineup suggests, Bayern is an incredibly strong team with great depth. Many analysts seem to be ignoring Bayern, but they'll regret it for sure.
In Louis van Gaal's first year, this team surprised everyone and got to the final of the Champions League. Now, in van Gaal's second season, the team will be even stronger.
If Arjen Robben comes back strong from his injury, Bayern have everything to challenge for the Champions League title. Thomas Muller, after a brilliant World Cup, will probably have his best season yet.
With no competition in the Bundesliga (in theory), Bayern will probably be able to focus on the Champions League, and that makes them even stronger candidates.
GK: Julio Cesar
LB: Javier Zanetti
CB: Walter Samuel
DM: Esteban Cambiasso
CM: Dejan Stankovic
AM: Wesley Sneijder
LW: Goran Pandev
RW: Samuel Eto'o
CF: Diego Milito
The reigning European Champions have managed to maintain all their players, which makes them one of the strongest teams in Europe again. Can they be the first team to win back-to-back Champions Leagues?
On paper, it seems so. Jose Mourinho left, but Rafael Benitez came. Benitez managed to win the Champions League in his first season with Liverpool, and he had a much weaker squad at his disposal than this current Inter side. If he can win with Liverpool, why can't he win with Inter Milan?
It won't be easy, but it would be a surprise if Inter didn't get far in the competition. Mourinho left a very good team to Benitez; it might take the latter some time to impose his ideas, but when he does, Inter will be a very tough team to beat.
Just like Bayern, Inter shouldn't have much trouble winning Serie A. Their squad is by far the best, and only sloppy performances can stop them from winning their sixth Serie A title in a row. This might be an advantage as far as the Champions League is concerned.
GK: Petr Cech
LB: Ashley Cole
CB: John Terry
RB: Branislav Ivanović/Bosingwa
DM: Michael Essien
CM: Frank Lampard
AM: Florent Malouda
CF: Nicolas Anelka/Salomon Kalou
CF: Didier Drogba
After winning the domestic double last season, Chelsea started the new season in an amazing way: three leagues matches, three wins; 14 goals scored, none conceded.
Chelsea has often been close to winning the Champions League, but on every occasion they lost narrowly. This might be one of the last chances for this fantastic group of players to win this competition.
Under Carlo Ancelotti, a manager who has won the Champions League twice, they have great chances. Ancelotti is one of the best managers in the world, and he has shown time and again that he knows how to play in Europe (so to say).
Unless something very unexpected happens, Chelsea have great possibilities of reaching the final this season.
GK: Victor Valdés
LB: Adriano/Eric Abidal/Maxwell
CB: Carles Puyol
CB: Gerard Piqué
RB: Daniel Alves/Adriano
DM: Javier Mascherano/Sergio Busquets
CM: Xavi Hernandez
CM: Andres Iniesta
RW: Lionel Messi
CF: David Villa
Quite simply the strongest team in the world. Seriously, does this team have any weaknesses? Because if it does, I failed to notice them.
If this Barcelona team manages to win another Champions League, it will go down as one of the best, if not the best, club team in history. This season looks like the perfect opportunity for it; with David Villa and Javier Mascherano, the team is stronger and has more quality depth than ever.
Barcelona have very strong opposition and will have to work hard to win the Champions League again, but on paper they're clearly the strongest team in the competition.
Last season, some bad luck against Mourinho's Inter prevented Barcelona from reaching the final. It could happen again, but seriously, would anyone put their money on it?
Barcelona should have a fantastic season, and they are, as far as I'm concerned, the safest bet to win the Champions League.