And just like that, another season of European club football is in the books. In the wake of Liverpool's triumph in the Champions League final, we're compiling a list of the 10 best sides on the continent in 2018-19.
Just missed out: Atletico Madrid
Plenty of Chelsea supporters are deleting tweets right now. Manager Maurizio Sarri was heavily criticized for much of the season, but the Italian bench boss ultimately came away with a Europa League title - his first major trophy - and a coveted top-four finish in the Premier League. He was also a shootout away from capturing the League Cup. Should Sarri depart for Juventus, as is being widely reported, the west London side could live to regret his exit.
Borussia Dortmund came painstakingly close to ending Bayern Munich's reign this season. A plethora of exciting, young players - led by electrifying teenager Jadon Sancho - and a handful of influential veterans combined to form an ideal blend as BVB pushed for the crown until the final day of the campaign, missing out on the Bundesliga title by two points. Lucien Favre's squad will look to add the necessary pieces this summer to topple its German rival next year.
Coming away empty-handed after reaching the Champions League final will sting, but Mauricio Pochettino and Tottenham have nothing to hang their heads about. Spurs, despite a continued inability to spend in the transfer window while funds were being allocated to the construction of their (spectacular) new stadium, not only stayed afloat, but they surpassed expectations. A top-four finish, guaranteeing yet another year of Champions League football, was always the goal. Mission accomplished, and then some.
Juventus threw in the towel on the campaign following their Champions League elimination at the hands of Ajax. After clinching their eighth consecutive Serie A title that same week, the Bianconeri didn't win any of their final five league matches. Despite that, they still hit the 90-point mark, which highlights just how dominant they were domestically. Champions League success continued to elude the Turin club, though, which ultimately resulted in Massimiliano Allegri relinquishing his role as manager.
What a season for Ajax. Spearheaded by the phenomenal Dutch duo of Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt, the Amsterdam outfit played the type of fluid, irresistible football that made it the darling of Europe. And, crucially, the style worked. Not only did Ajax nab two domestic trophies, but their superb Champions League run, in which they sent holders Real Madrid and Juventus packing, was exhilarating.
Much like Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain started their vacation early this season. But in their case, the decision to kick their feet up prematurely ended up costing them silverware. With yet another Ligue 1 crown already locked up and with their continental run cut surprisingly short by Manchester United, PSG sleepwalked through the remainder of the calendar, and it came back to bite them in a shootout loss to Rennes in the Coupe de France final. Still, it's important to remember just how great this team was to watch earlier in the year when Kylian Mbappe was shredding defenders every week for fun.
Bayern Munich went through the first month of the campaign on autopilot, as Niko Kovac struggled to acclimate to his new side and to get the best out of an aging core of players - and then they flipped the switch. The Bavarians won 18 of their last 22 league matches, including a devastating 5-0 thumping of title rivals Dortmund, to retain their seat on the throne. Next, they secured a domestic double to emphasize their dominance of German football. With young, promising talent already confirmed to be arriving ahead of next season, it might be quite some time before Bayern is usurped.
The majestic Lionel Messi put an otherwise rickety Barcelona on his back in 2018-19, conjuring up one spectacular moment after another to give the Blaugrana their eighth league title in the last 11 seasons. It could have been so much more, too. Heading into the final month of the campaign, Barca had very real aspirations of claiming the treble. Instead, a historic implosion in the Champions League semifinals followed by a shocking upset in the Copa del Rey finale meant the Catalan club had to settle for just one shiny object on the mantle. That's not a terrible consolation prize, at the end of the day.
Liverpool put together the third-best season in Premier League history by racking up a monstrous 97 points, and they would have been crowned victors of the top flight for the first time since 1990 were it not for another near-flawless showing from Manchester City, who gobbled up 98. This Reds team, bookended by its infamous front-three at one end and impervious defender Virgil van Dijk at the other, was the perfect combination of flair and stoicism. Liverpool could blow the doors off, or, as proved in the Champions League final, they could suffocate the opposition. A truly remarkable campaign ended in fitting fashion: with an epic trophy celebration.
They didn't win the trophy that the club's brass is so desperate to hoist, but calling Manchester City's season anything other than a rousing success would be absurd. A domestic treble, capped off by a commanding triumph in the FA Cup final, tells only part of the story; the squad's gorgeous attacking play tells the rest of it. Were it not for some unlucky bounces in the Champions League, we could very well be talking about a quadruple-winning side. That'll once again be the goal in 2019-20, as Pep Guardiola continues to guide the Citizens on the path to superclub status.