Ferguson: Real Madrid team to beat in Champions League

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Former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson lauded Juventus' dominance but believes it will be difficult to dethrone Champions League titleholders Real Madrid this season.

Madrid became the first side to claim back-to-back Champions League trophies after routing Juve 4-1 in the European showpiece last term.

Zinedine Zidane has retained the core of his squad as many tip Madrid to achieve a three-peat and Ferguson - who guided United to two Champions League crowns during his trophy-laden spell in charge at Old Trafford - said it is hard to look past the Spanish giants in their quest for a 13th European title.

"I think Juventus are controlling the league in Italy. They've been doing that for the past six years. They have a fantastic coach," Ferguson said.

"They got to the final last year and did really well in the first half but Real Madrid were unbelievable in the second half.

"You have to understand how good Real Madrid are now. They're a mature team, they've been together for three, four, five years - all of their players together.

"It gives them great continuity and understanding of the roles they've all got to play. It's a real team.

"Juventus were in the cup final two years before and they've been the main Italian threat to win the champions League.

"Personally, I think Real Madrid will be very difficult to beat, I think they're a great team. I'm hoping United [in Group A along with Benfica, Basel and CSKA Moscow] will do well this year with a very strong team.

"I know that Napoli have emerged and done very well but I still think Juventus are the best team in Italy."

Madrid have been drawn in Group H alongside Borussia Dortmund, Tottenham and APOEL, while Juve will face Barcelona, Sporting Lisbon and Olympiacos in Group D.