If you were to poll football fans of some of Europe’s biggest clubs, many will tell you that they would prefer their team to win the Champions League over that of their domestic competition. You can see why, with the label of being the best team on the continent, and in most people’s eyes, the world – an opportunity that doesn’t come around too often for most clubs.
With the draw for the round of 16 now set, read on as we dissect the three favourites in the football odds to secure the most prized possession in club football.
If you look at Manchester City’s depth and talent, it’s not surprising that they’re the favourites to be victorious at Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Instanbul on June 10. However, City have yet to win a Champions League – and with every year they fail to get over the hump – the more the pressure grows.
It appeared as though 2022 was going to the year they broke through and lifted the European Cup, reaching the final four with impressive wins over Sporting and Atletico Madrid in the round of 16 and quarter-finals respectively. Awaiting them in the semi-final were Real Madrid, whose unparalleled Champions League experience and success ensured they were anything but a tough out.
After defeating the Spanish giants 4-3 at home in their first match-up, City took plenty of confidence into the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium for the second leg. What transpired was one of the more dramatic finishes we’ve seen at the tournament in recent years. Up 1-0 after 89 minutes, Pep Guardiola’s men had a two-goal cushion that appeared insurmountable for the Spanish outfit.
However, one of the greatest comebacks in Champions League history followed, as Real Madrid scored in the 90th, 91st and 96th minute to steal the win late and progress to the final. That makes for two successive campaigns that would have been a bitter pill to swallow for City, as they also lost the final 1-0 to Chelsea in 2021.
However, with the addition of 22-year-old phenom Erling Haaland to their squad this time around – they’ll be confident they can get the monkey of their back and finally become champions of Europe.
First, they have to get past RB Leipzig in the round of 16, who finished second in Group F behind Real Madrid.
Six-time Champions League winners Bayern Munich are the second favourite in the betting lines to reign supreme in June. The Bundesliga outfit, who boast world-class players such as Leroy Sane, Alphonso Davies and marquee off-season signing Sadio Mane, will be hoping their sublime form during their group fixtures will hold them in good stead as the competition strengthens in the knockout stages.
The Julian Nagelsmann-managed side dominated opponents Barcelona, Inter Milan and Viktoria Plzen by a combined margin of 16 goals – the best goal difference in the competition. Their round of 16 clash will be far from easy however, with the star-studded Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) more than capable of causing the upset.
With the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi and Neymar Jr. in the PSG team, all of whom are in exceptional form at the World Cup in Qatar – and this is shaping up to the most enthralling match-up of the final 16.
Bayern Munich are currently paying 13/2 to win it all.
While Liverpool’s form in the Premier League has been anything but impressive, write them off in Europe at your peril. Their results in recent years speak for itself, with Jurgen Klopp’s men reaching the esteemed competition’s final in three of the last five years – including a triumph in 2018-19.
Given they still have elite talent such as Mohamed Salah, Virgil van Dijk and Trent Alexander-Arnold at their disposal, you can understand why fans and pundits have such confidence in them – irrespective of their form at the domestic level.
Couple that with their strong showing in the group stages, in which they finished second on goal difference to the in-form Napoli – and they are yet again a live threat. With this squad’s experience under the brightest of lights, the Reds could prove very good value at 9/1.