The Champions League is well underway & several of Europe’s leading clubs have ambitions of lifting the most prestigious trophy in club football in Milan next May. Lets review the betting odds inside.
Barcelona were rampant on their way to winning the Champions League last season, as defences across Europe failed to contain the expensively-assembled attacking triumvirate of Neymar, Luis Suarez and the inimitable Lionel Messi. They have continued that form into this season and sit top of their group. But no team has won this competition twice in a row since the great AC Milan side in 1990. The Real Madrid Galacticos side featuring Zidane and Figo couldn’t manage it, while Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering Barcelona, the Cristiano Ronaldo-inspired Man Utd side of the mid-2000s and an awe-inspiring Bayern Munich side all failed to retain the famous trophy. Barcelona will probably fall short in inexplicable circumstances in the semi-finals – that sort of thing seems to happen to the holders every year. Best to look elsewhere.
Bayern Munich (+333)
Joint-favorites Bayern have been the most impressive team in the Champions League so far this season. Two games, to wins, eight goals for, none against. Striker Robert Lewandowski has been in astonishing form, banging in 18 goals in just 11 games so far this season for club and country. Behind him lies a veritable treasure trove of creative talent and ruthless defensive discipline. They are arguably the best-drilled side in the world, and manager Pep Guardiola will be desperate to finally win the Champions League with Bayern this year. They always win the Bundesliga at a canter, so while Barcelona and Real Madrid are going at it hammer and tongs in Spain trying to win La Liga and getting increasingly stretched across both competitions, Bayern can afford to rest players in the league and concentrate solely on the Champions League. They look a good soccer pick to win it for the first time since 2013.
Real Madrid (+510)
Real Madrid have flown out of the blocks in a similar fashion to Bayern in this season’s Champion’s League, scoring six and conceding none to sit on top of their group. It would be a huge surprise if they didn’t make it at least as far as the semi-finals, and then they can really come into their own. Their brand of counterattacking football, driven by the lightning-quick pace of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, can rip any team to shreds. They have quality all over the side, with James Rodriguez and Toni Kroos providing the creative spark and Sergio Ramos marshalling the backline. They won it two seasons ago and were unlucky to go out to Juventus in last year’s semis. Ronaldo can grab the goals to get them out of any tight fix, and they have as good a chance as anybody of lifting the trophy.
Since they became oil-rich PSG have dominated the French league in a similar fashion to the Bayern monopoly in Germany. But the French league is far weaker than Germany, and PSG are weaker than Bayern. They are not regularly tested and struggle when they play with the big boys in Europe. They are in the same group as Real and have also won both opening games. We will gain a stronger idea of their ability to launch a full tilt at the Champions League when they play Real home and away in their next two fixtures, but they are likely to come up short this year. They have arguably the best striker and the best centre back in the world in Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva, but the rest of the squad pales in comparison to the likes of Bayern and Barcelona, while the erratic defending of David Luiz is always liable to let them down.
Man City (+1600) at Ladbrokes
Like PSG, Man City have spent hundreds of millions acquiring the best talent in the world since oil-rich billionaires took them over, and they too have tasted success domestically, but they are another that has failed to turn it on when it counts on the European stage. You never really know which City is going to turn up – the one that beat Newcastle 6-1, or the one that lost 5-2 to Tottenham. If they can keep key players Vincent Kompany, David Silva and Sergio Aguero fit, they can spring an upset, but recent fortunes in the Champions League suggest they will flop on the big stage once more.
Rest of the Field
Don’t bother with Man Utd (+2500) or Arsenal (+6600). Both lack the quality and the appetite. Also avoid Juventus (+2500), who have lost key players Arturo Vidal and Carlos Tevez and gone massively downhill since reaching the final last year. A better long shot might come from a team in Spain that knows how to beat Real Madrid and Barcelona. Atletico Madrid (+2000) are priced very attractively given their recent track record, while Sevilla (+10000) beat tournament favourites Barcelona in their last game and have tasted success in Europe, having won the Europa League for the last two years running. Another interesting long shot could be Chelsea (+2000). They have won one and lost one in their group but should easily have enough to surge past Dynamo Kiev, Porto and Maccabi Tel Aviv and progress out of what is possibly the weakest of all the groups. Chelsea have been terribly disappointing in the English Premier League so far this season, and they sit just above the relegation zone with a meagre return of eight points from eight games, 10 points behind leaders Man City. They are woefully off the pace, but this could free them up to really go for it in the Champions League instead. The last time they played so poorly in the league was 2012. They finished sixth – the first time they had failed to make the top four in years – and then went on to win the Champions League. This is a squad bursting with expensive talent, from Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas to Diego Costa and Nemanja Matic, and in Jose Mourinho they have a manager who has won the competition with Porto and Inter, and who has a serious point to prove at Chelsea.