The Champions League group stage draw is complete and 32 teams now know their group game fate. The tournament’s group stage will kick off on September 12th and before long, 32 teams will be whittled down to 16.
Real Madrid are the reigning Champions League title holders and have won three of the last four competitions. The team have already secured the UEFA Super Cup and the Spanish Super Cup this term; and Madrid will be gunning for yet another European title. Thirty-one other teams will hope they can knock off the cup holders, but will any of them have a shot at beating out the 12-time champions?
The Big Four
Real Madrid have been eyed by bookmakers as the favourite of the tournament, and why not? The team have arguably the best player in the world – Cristiano Ronaldo – and the team are incredibly strong in all positions. Madrid were able to let midfielder James Rodriguez go to Bayern Munich, Danilo to Manchester City and will most likely sell Mateo Kovacic, yet the club are still stacked with talent. Ronaldo finished last Champions League as the top scorer, so adding him to a betting slip finish top again this term would be a clever piece of wagering.
Beaten in the quarterfinals last year by Juventus, Barcelona look to be at the end of a player cycle. The team will still challenge for the Spanish title and be tough to beat in the Champions League, but Barcelona don’t look as strong as they did a few years ago. Of course, Lionel Messi is still the main man, but Neymar has joined Paris Saint-Germain for an incredible €222 million. The club are attempting to replace him, but the addition of Paulinho does little to make up for the loss. Neymar led the Champions League in assists last term, and he teed up Messi for quite a few of his 11 goals.
Barcelona to win 7/1 Bet Victor
Bayern Munich have all the makings of a team that can win the Champions League. Last term, the Germans just came up against a much stronger Madrid side, and were dumped from the tournament. This year could be different as Bayern look as cool and clinical as ever. Carlo Ancelotti is one of the best coaches in Europe, and his attack, anchored by Robert Lewandowski, is one of the most potent in the competition. Bayern will make it deep into the tournament, whether they can get past the quarters will be the biggest question.
Bayern Munich to win 7/1 Betfred
With the arrival of Neymar as PSG’s main attacker, plenty of football pundits believe it could be the Parisians’ season in Europe. No French team have won the Champions League since 1992-93, and PSG could be the first now that they have Neymar. One player won’t completely change the team’s fortunes, however. PSG may have to dump a few players, good players, to justify his signing with UEFA’s Financial Fair Play. Angel Di Maria is already one casualty and more are expected in the next week. PSG had a brilliant chance to make it to the quarterfinals last season, but the team experienced the greatest capitulation in Champions League history as they gave up six goals in the second leg. Coach Unai Emery, for all of his tactical knowhow, shouldn’t feel bettors with excitement as he leads the team forward.
Paris St Germain to win 15/2 888 Sport
Do you think 1 of the Big 4 will win this years Champions League, or maybe 1 of the 5 English teams can win it. Let us know in the comments below.
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