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With Real Madrid lifting the Champions League title on Saturday, gone is the format as we know it since the 2024-25 edition will have a 36-team league instead of the traditional group stage. While this will shake things up, teams playing two more group stage matches will only skew even further toward top teams who can rotate more than they already do. Looking at who may win the Champions League next season, while it would be great to suggest an unlikely winner, those are usually the teams that have an impressive run to the final only to fall to a titan. In some cases, like Inter, it can be the start of building to be one of the best teams in the world but in other cases that run is just a flash in the pan.

So who is likely to win UCL next season? Here are the top five contenders ranked:

5. Inter

Despite operating on a smaller budget than some of their opposition, Simone Inzaghi has built this team into a serious contender. Able to soak up defensive pressure while also giving teams fits with their attack, Inter are one of the strongest contenders for a Champions League title next season. The question comes down to Lautaro Martinez, however. For a team to win a European title, they need to be able to rely on an attacker to score when the stakes are high. In Serie A, that was Marinez as he scored 24 goals, his third consecutive season scoring 20 or more goals, but in Champions League play he only registered two goals. Underperforming his expected goals in the competition, as Martinez rounds into his prime, hitting the next level of his career will be crucial to Inter's success. 

4. Liverpool

Even without Jurgen Klopp, as long as Mohamed Salah is still on, Liverpool they'll have a chance in this competition. Arnie Slot will have a full offseason to look to tweak the attack in his image while also possibly boosting the defense. He'll have to figure out what to do with Darwin Nunez but when looking at this Liverpool squad, it's one that is set up well for the future even as they move on from the Klopp era. While it's never easy to replace a club legend, Slot has been one of the most consistent managers in Europe over the past few seasons, so he can look to keep things simple while also letting Liverpool press and attack as they do best. With the depth in youth, this is a team that is also boosted by the longer group stage.

3. Arsenal

Unlucky not to get further in the Champions League this year, Arsenal are one of the best teams in the world. Their only issue is that arguably the best team in the world also plays in the Premier League with them in Manchester City. Bukayo Saka has proven that he's someone who can be relied on, and if Mikel Arteta can get a consistent striker during the summer, Arsenal are a team that can win a Champions League if things break their way. From the defense to the attack, most positions are where they need to be but the questions are around if Gabriel Jesus/Kai Havertz at the nine are enough.

2. Manchester City

A machine under Pep Guardiola, it's still astounding that City have only won one Champions League title with him as manager. Running into the eventual winners of this season's competition in Real Madrid, it's understandable why City didn't get it done, but with Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne, if healthy, City are always a contender for every title that there is. Defensively, things will need to improve to contain the top attacks in the world like Madrid but when facing anyone else in the world, City should win.

1. Real Madrid 

This is Real Madrid's competition. With six UCL titles since 2013-14, betting against Real Madrid to win the Champions League is never smart especially when Kylian Mbappe is likely joining a star-studded attack. If Carlo Ancelotti can balance Vinicius Junior and Mbapppe in attack together, this team will be truly unstoppable even with Toni Kroos retiring. Being set for future years is how Madrid have kept things moving in the right direction even with change all around and that will only continue to happen. Even with Endrick joining, there will be more and more attackers and a strong midfield, but like City, defense is the biggest question that Los Blancos have -- not that it'll matter if they score three goals per game.