A Look At Our 5 Favourites To Lift The Champions Cup Next Season
Can Saracens be stopped?
The Champions Cup may still be several months away, but there’s nothing stopping us from looking forward to it already. Last season was no doubt the best instalment we’ve seen of the tournament since the new format was introduced, and we’ll be hoping for plenty of the same this season.
Munster and Leinster recovered from poor seasons to reach the last four, but ultimately it came down to Saracens and Clermont in a thrilling final with the former lifting the trophy for the second successive season.
We also saw Glasgow reach the knockout stages for the first time, while a number of top sides such as Racing 92 and Ulster struggle to get out of their pools. Looking ahead to next season we’ve picked out five teams that we reckon lead the way to lift the trophy in 2018.
The back-to-back champions will head into this season’s competition as clear favourites and it’s easy to see why. They may have lost Chris Ashton to Toulon, but they’ve replaced him with Lions star Liam Williams. They’ve also got the likes of Will Skelton coming in, and a rested and recovered Billy Vunipola who skipped the Lions tour to get his shoulder sorted out over the summer. The only issue for Saracens is with the likes of Clermont and Northampton in their group, they may struggle to secure a home quarter final.
The Premiership finalists simply didn’t show up at the Aviva in their quarter final clash with Leinster, but we all know they’re capable of so much more. Possessing one of the deadliest backline’s in European rugby, Dai Young’s men will have learned from their experiences in the competition over the last two years.
Semi-finalists last year that very well should have been finalists. This year however, they’re in a much tougher group with the likes of Premiership champions Exeter and big-spenders Montpellier to contend with. The worry for Leinster is that they could be without both Garry Ringrose and Robbie Henshaw for the first couple of rounds. They do however, boast a wealth of talent in almost every position with the Irish province boasting one of the best academies in the game.
If Rassie Erasmus wasn’t leaving halfway through the season, this spot would be reserved for Munster. Instead we’ve gone for Vern Cotter’s new side Montpellier. They already boast a team full of talent with the likes of Nemani Nadolo and François Steyn and they’ve got Ruan Pienaar, Louis Picamoles and Aaron Cruden en route for this season. With Cotter at the helm, these boys will be dangerous and should not be taken lightly.
Can the men in yellow finally taste European glory? Last year’s finalists were once again stopped at the final hurdle, but it’s only a matter of time before they break their duct. A Top 14 win ended their season on a high, but a Champions Cup title is still the number one goal. They’ll be up there competing no doubt.