After an imperious campaign where they collected a historic second treble, Barcelona will start next season as favourites to win it all once again.
With a front three containing Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar, it’s not hard to see why, and the Blaugrana lead the betting for next term’s Champions League at 13/4.
However, savvy punters should steer clear of the Catalans, and instead back Bayern Munich, Real Madrid (both 5/1) or even Chelsea (7/1) for European glory next year.
Another heavy summer will knock Lionel Messi and Neymar off their stride
Barcelona’s unrivalled front three has undoubtedly been the key to their success this term, but two of their South American stars are set for another summer without a break.
After the World Cup last year, Messi and Neymar will now compete in the Copa America, with Luis Suarez only spared the exertion due to his lengthy ban from international football.
The competition starts just five days after the Champions League final and doesn’t end until the fourth of July. Messi in particular might struggle with such a taxing schedule.
The Blaugrana’s transfer ban will make it impossible to refresh their squad and replace key men
No-one doubts the quality of Barcelona’s first team, but the Catalans don’t boast the most impressive squad depth in Europe, and will have no chance to change that this summer due to their transfer ban.
Xavi’s departure has been somewhat accounted for already, but Dani Alves will be impossible to replace, and the Blaugrana should also be concerned about their ageing defence.
Javier Mascherano, Jeremy Mathieu and Adriano are all over 30, while Thomas Vermaelen is 29 and has recorded more trophies than appearances this season due to injury.
It wouldn’t take many injuries at all to leave this Barcelona side heavily reliant on youngsters next term, an unlikely recipe for Champions League success.
No side has ever defended their Champions League title
Europe has been blessed with some truly great teams in the past couple of decades, including Barcelona themselves under Pep Guardiola, but none of them have clinched back-to-back Champions Leagues.
The Blaugrana have won the trophy four times in the past 10 years, but on the three previous occasions they’ve tried to defend their crown, they’ve not made it past the semi-finals.