With the Champions League Round of 16 now well underway we get Michael Ballack's exclusive thoughts on why he believes Bayern Munich can be right in the mix to lift the trophy and why Real Madrid could miss out on a hat-trick of title...
"Despite having a few problems in their domestic league this season, Real Madrid (7.26/1) are a different team in the Champions League. However, I am not sure if they are strong enough to get the historic hat-trick of Champions League titles."
There has been a lot of talk recently about how we can increase the excitement in the Bundesliga and I have been following it with great interest.
This season, we are seeing why the football community needs to think about these things, and not just in the Bundesliga. In many European leagues this season, one team is so far ahead of the rest that the title race will be decided long before the last match day. That is not very exciting for the fans.
However, I can't really get on board with the suggestions for changes. The Bundesliga works the way it is.
Football is also a business now. When teams progress financially to the next level, they can start to plan their success on the pitch too. That is how football has always worked. The economy didn't suddenly make some teams stronger than others, the teams did it themselves. It is tough to argue against that.
Madrid to miss out on hat-trick of titles
Back to football, the Champions League is kicking off again this week. Bayern (7.06/1) are definitely in my top three favourites to lift the trophy. They have a great mix of experience, squad strength and self-confidence. They know how to raise their game when they need to. With quality in their squad and maybe a little bit of luck with the draw, they will definitely be in the mix for the final.
Looking at the draw as a football fan, there are two huge match-ups to get excited about; Real Madrid vs PSG (Madrid lead 3-1 after the first leg) and Chelsea vs Barcelona. With the quality of the teams involved, either of these games could have been the final.
Despite having a few problems in their domestic league this season, Real Madrid (7.26/1) are a different team in the Champions League. However, I am not sure if they are strong enough to get the historic hat-trick of Champions League titles.
Barcelona (6.411/2) and Manchester City (4.47/2) make up the other two slots in my top three favourites for the Champions League title this year. Unfortunately, Barca will have to beat my old club Chelsea to progress and I think they are strong enough to do it. As for City, the combination of their dominance in the Premier League with a favourable draw against FC Basel - City won the away leg 4-0 - will bring Pep Guardiola's hopes for this season a step closer.
With all the discussion about the state of the Bundesliga, the resources of the Premier League clubs and the recent successes of the Spanish giants, I still think all Bayern Munich fans should be optimistic about their prospects in Europe. On their day, Bayern can beat any team.
In terms of finances, the gap to the games richest clubs, like Manchester City, is not that big. For those reasons, and from a German perspective, there is plenty of excitement left in the Champions League.