Liverpool’s Champions League triumph and 2-0 victory over Tottenham in Madrid feels like a lifetime ago as this season’s tournament is already underway with the qualifying stages having started at the backend of June. It’s time for us punters to hit the drawing board and see who the genuine contenders are this time around as well as discovering any hidden gems who may provide value.
The bookies believe that this season’s Champions League will be won by a club hailing from England or Spain with Manchester City, Barcelona, Liverpool and Real Madrid leading they way as the outright favourites. Manchester City are favourites to lift the trophy, despite not being able to prove themselves in the latter stages of this tournament.
Manchester City – 4/1
Manchester City are favourites to lift the trophy, the piece of silverware that their owner Sheikh Mansour is so desperate for. It’s not a surprise that they are right up there with the big favourites, but it is quite surprising that they’ve been backed into the most likely to win the competition. City are unplayable domestically and they have no issue with getting the job done there. They also probably boast the strongest squad in the world, but they are just yet to prove themselves on the European stage – Well, when it gets to the crunch knockout rounds.
It should actually be considered quite poor that City are yet to reach a Champions League final after the investment the club has received over the last decade or so. I don’t see them as favourites as I’m not yet convinced by them in this tournament; I certainly wouldn’t be tempted at 4/1 when there is better value to be found elsewhere.
Barcelona – 11/2
Barcelona are second favourites and you are always guaranteed a half-decent run with the Catalan side, they are a genuine European powerhouse. They will still be licking their wounds after the disaster of last season’s collapse in Liverpool and they will be itching to get the new European campaign underway. They looked destined to reach a first final since 2015 after a 3-0 win over Liverpool at the Camp Nou before it all came crashing down on that famous night at Anfield.
I like Barcelona at 11/2 as they as they’ll most likely reach the quarter-finals minimum and then you have always got a chance from there. Barca have also made a couple of interesting additions to their squad with the arrivals of Antoine Griezmann from Atletico Madrid and 22-year-old Frenkie de Jong who played a part in Ajax’s heroics last campaign.
Liverpool – 7/1
Reigning European champions Liverpool look like an attractive price at 7/1. They were very impressive throughout last season’s run, starting the knockout stages by beating German giants Bayern Munich in the Round of 16 before being able to have a breather in the quarter-finals against Porto. Then in true Liverpool fashion, they provided one of the greatest nights ever on the European stage by, incredibly, overturning a 3-0 first leg defeat against Barcelona in the semis. The Reds then went on to outclass Tottenham in the final, earning their sixth European crown.
So, it has been back-to-back Champions League finals for Liverpool. First, they were over-powered and beaten by Real Madrid in Kiev before putting that right on the 1st of June against Spurs. Their chances of reaching a third final in succession and making it a hat-trick? I certainly wouldn’t bet against it at this point.
Real Madrid – 8/1
Real Madrid can be found at 8/1, and that looks like a big price for a club who have reached four of the last six Champions League finals. However, I just get a bad vibe about them ahead of the new season. The whole pre-season antics and petty behaviour from Zinedine Zidane regarding the Gareth Bale saga has led me to believe that there is a bad aura around the squad.
In fairness, it’s hard to question the credentials of a side who have won four Champions League titles in the last six years. However, something is just telling me that we should be avoiding them this year.
Juventus – 9/1
I am a huge fan of Juventus at 9/1 and I believe the Old Lady will be right there until the end this time around. They fell short against Ajax in the quarter-finals last year, however, the Dutch side were strong and filled with incredibly talented young players with some having moved on to bigger clubs over the summer.
Juventus had reached two Champions League finals in the last five years before failing to compete against Barcelona and Real Madrid in the game that matters. I firmly believe that Juve are an even stronger side now and they obviously have Cristiano Ronaldo leading the line who turns up on every single occasion on the European stage. Juventus have been savvy in the transfer market and have brought in several good signings in Matthijs de Ligt, Luca Pellegrini, Adrien Rabiot and Aaron Ramsey.
Outsider value betting tip: Borussia Dortmund – 33/1
If I was looking for a potential outsider that provides value ahead of the new campaign, then I would be siding with Borussia Dortmund at 33/1. Dortmund were beaten by eventual finalists Tottenham in the Round of 16 last season, but they certainly have the potential to compete. They have pace and goals going forward with talented players in Paco Alcacer and Jadon Sancho. They looked very impressive in their recent Super Cup victory over rivals Bayern Munich. If BVB receive a kind draw in the group stage then don’t be surprised to see them make a run. I would say they are definitely worth a quid or two to keep you interested throughout the new season.