From Ronaldo to Real: A guide to this season's Champions League

Since last winning the competition in 1996, few clubs have endured Champions League heartbreak quite like Ju...

Posted: Sep 17, 2018 8:34 PM
Updated: Sep 17, 2018 8:34 PM

Since last winning the competition in 1996, few clubs have endured Champions League heartbreak quite like Juventus.

In the two years after that penalty shootout victory against Ajax, The Old Lady went on to lose successive finals against Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Football (Soccer)

Soccer events

Sports and recreation

Sports events

Sports figures

UEFA Champions League

La Liga

Real Madrid CF

Sports organizations and teams

Its luck hasn't changed in the intervening two decades, losing three further finals (2003, 2015, 2017) to reach an unwanted tally of five consecutive final defeats.

The run has left Juventus fans wondering if they'll ever see their team lift that famous trophy again, while the feeling persists that the Bianconeri have underachieved in Europe's top competition.

READ: Juventus can win Champions League with Cristiano Ronaldo, says Wayne Rooney

READ: Can Cristiano Ronaldo and Juve realize Champions League dream?

Now, the pressure of trying to break this wretched run has seemingly fallen almost entirely on the shoulders of Juve's new superstar: Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Portuguese forward last season helped Real Madrid to an unprecedented third consecutive Champions League win, taking his total tally to five.

If there is one player with the big-game experience and match-winning ability to take an already star-studded Juve side one step further, it's Ronaldo.

The 33-year-old directly contributed to 50% of Real Madrid's Champions League goals between 2009-10 and 2017-18, coming top of the goalscorer charts in each of the last six seasons -- surely Los Blancos' loss must be Juventus' gain.

Real Madrid weaker?

Before Real Madrid won three straight Champions League titles, no club had even managed to win the competition back-to-back in its current format.

While Ronaldo was central to this success on the pitch -- developing the unerring habit of scoring the biggest of goals in the most vital of moments -- coach Zinedine Zidane was pulling the strings from the side.

READ: Cristiano Ronaldo -- Is he worth it?

READ: Cristiano Ronaldo leaves Real Madrid for Juventus as 'new chapter' begins

Both have since departed, with Zidane quitting just days after leading them to that third Champions League crown and suggesting the team needed a fresh voice to lead them forward.

That voice has come in the form of Julen Lopetegui, the coach unceremoniously dumped by the Spanish FA just days before its opening World Cup match at Russia 2018.

With the re-signing of 25-year-old Mariano Diaz from Lyon, Real Madrid's only incoming transfer this summer, many were left wondering how it would fill that Ronaldo-shaped void.

But Lopetegui has added an element of control to Real's already scintillating counter-attacking style, with Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale especially flourishing in the Portuguese's absence.

English drought

An English team contesting the final of the Champions League was once a regular occurrence.

From 2005 to 2012, seven of the eight finals featured a team from the Premier League, including 2008's all-English affair between Manchester United and Chelsea.

But Liverpool's appearance against Real Madrid last season was the first time an English club had made it to the final for six years, a barren run symptomatic of the drop in quality of the Premier League.

In their place, Spanish teams have dominated with Real and Barcelona winning the previous four between them and Atletico Madrid also appearing in two finals.

Though with many labeling this season's competition the most open Champions League in years, could the likes of Manchester City of Liverpool bring the trophy back to England?

Pep Guardiola's side -- which fell short against Liverpool in the quarterfinals last season -- are the early bookies' favorites, while Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool have made several quality additions to its ranks along with the experience gained from last year's run.

New format

In an attempt to boost viewing figures across the world, UEFA has taken the decision to split matches between two kick-off times this season.

Instead of the usual 7:45pm (BST) kick-off for all group stage games -- with the exception of matches played in Russia and Azerbaijan -- two matches will start at 5:55pm and the rest at 8pm.

For fans in Asia and Australia, in particular, it will mean at least one game might be on at a reasonable enough hour before an early start for work the next morning.

The new format will run until the 2020/21 season when UEFA will conduct a review of its success.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 35712

Reported Deaths: 2207
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion10037594
Lake3806202
Allen174371
Cass15927
Elkhart143529
St. Joseph132035
Hamilton118094
Hendricks118074
Johnson1120110
Madison59761
Porter55329
Clark52841
Bartholomew52238
Howard43734
LaPorte43624
Tippecanoe4214
Shelby39822
Jackson3942
Delaware38740
Hancock34928
Floyd32140
Boone31835
Vanderburgh2902
Morgan28324
Noble25121
Montgomery24417
Clinton2401
White2389
Decatur23031
Grant22123
Dubois2053
Harrison19622
Henry18412
Vigo1758
Greene17125
Dearborn17021
Monroe17012
Warrick16728
Kosciusko1661
Lawrence16524
Marshall1472
Miami1411
Putnam1377
Orange13122
Jennings1314
Scott1223
Franklin1158
Ripley1086
LaGrange1022
Daviess9516
Carroll933
Steuben872
Wayne865
Wabash802
Fayette797
Newton7810
Jasper701
Jay530
Clay522
Washington511
Rush503
Randolph503
Fulton501
Pulaski490
Jefferson471
Whitley443
DeKalb431
Starke393
Sullivan371
Owen341
Perry340
Huntington342
Brown331
Benton320
Wells320
Knox310
Blackford272
Tipton261
Crawford240
Fountain222
Switzerland210
Spencer211
Adams201
Gibson182
Parke180
Posey160
Ohio130
Warren121
Martin120
Vermillion100
Union90
Pike60
Unassigned0175

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 36792

Reported Deaths: 2300
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin6112290
Cuyahoga4669247
Hamilton2739164
Marion267931
Lucas2296256
Pickaway209537
Summit1487181
Mahoning1463188
Butler93333
Columbiana88952
Stark75299
Lorain70960
Montgomery69516
Trumbull58451
Belmont43914
Warren39021
Medina36623
Miami36230
Tuscarawas3604
Ashtabula34537
Delaware34414
Portage33257
Lake31812
Fairfield3108
Clark3067
Wood30348
Geauga29533
Wayne28851
Licking26510
Mercer2207
Clermont2165
Allen21433
Richland2093
Darke18423
Erie18216
Madison1627
Washington11819
Crawford1174
Morrow1071
Ottawa10217
Greene1025
Putnam9514
Sandusky8512
Monroe7914
Auglaize763
Ross732
Hocking705
Jefferson672
Hardin640
Huron601
Williams561
Union551
Muskingum521
Hancock511
Shelby463
Holmes463
Clinton451
Fulton450
Wyandot442
Coshocton400
Logan400
Fayette400
Preble391
Guernsey362
Defiance342
Carroll313
Brown301
Lawrence300
Champaign281
Highland261
Knox251
Seneca242
Vinton212
Ashland210
Perry191
Athens181
Henry170
Scioto170
Paulding140
Jackson140
Adams101
Harrison100
Pike90
Gallia81
Van Wert70
Noble60
Meigs60
Morgan50
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Broken Clouds
70° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 70°
Angola
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 63°
Huntington
Broken Clouds
70° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 70°
Decatur
Broken Clouds
70° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 70°
Van Wert
Broken Clouds
70° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 70°
Warm & Humid Thursday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events