Who will win the Champions League?
Manchester City are the betting favourites to lift the Champions League for the first time this season. Runners-up to Chelsea last season, City will be looking to go one better this season after 11 consecutive seasons trying to win their first European title since 1970.
For such a dominant domestic team, Pep Guardiola’s outfit has struggled to consistently replicate that form in European competitions having only posted just under a 55% win rate. Fivethirtyeight’s Soccer Power Index (SPI) model currently gives City a 25% chance to win it all this year slightly over Germany’s Bayern Munich with 24% and Liverpool with 21%.
Perhaps the biggest test for Pep and his side will be overcoming another English team, having been knocked out of the competition by a domestic team in three of the last four campaigns. Pep Guardiola may claim that he does not fear drawing a Premier League side but getting over the hump while also attempting to repeat as Premier League champions for the fourth time in five years.
City’s closest domestic rivals, Liverpool, are looking to try and accomplish the same special moment as they compete on three fronts in the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup. Having won the Champions League in 2019 they at least have less pressure to capture the prize of European football although that won’t make it any easier to overcome a competitive field of teams. Liverpool looked superb during the group stages after claiming a maximum of 18 points against Atletico Madrid, Milan and Porto and with their forward line bolstered by the addition of Luis Diaz in January they have the strength in depth to be a challenge for any of the remaining teams.
Bayern Munich’s odds to win the Champions League are at 7/2 and the German outfit were in scintillating form during the group stages, matching Liverpool with a maximum 18 points and scoring a competition leading 22 goals in the process. Bayern are one of the best attacking units in all of Europe, and with a healthy Robert Lewandowski leading the line they are a match for anyone.
That was certainly the case in the quarter-finals when aided by a Lewandowski hat-trick Bayern dispatched RB Salzburg with conviction, 8-2 over 180 minutes. Similar to Liverpool, with their last Champions League title won in 2020 they have recent experience winning. If Bayern had Lewandowski available last year during their quarter final heartbreak loss against Paris Saint-Germain they could have gone all the way, i wouldn’t put it past them to establish themselves as the new kings of Europe.
They are currently one of the most dynamic offensive units in Europe, with the kind of positional flexibility that could pose all kinds of problems for opponents that want to press them. Head coach Julian Nagelsmann has created rotational patterns that allows his team to push a lot of attacking players forward into the final third which has translated into more goals (currently 77 and counting) in the Bundesliga this season, 12 more than their nearest competitors Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Leverkusen.
Reigning champions Chelsea at 8/1 are the outsiders after the big three in betting, however, they are going to have to navigate some very unique and murky waters if they want to be the first repeat champions since Real Madrid in 2018. With current Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich being sanctioned by the UK government, Chelsea are currently operating under a special license that doesn’t allow for Chelsea to make any more money, whether from merchandise or match tickets.
Heading into their second leg tie against French champions Lille, Tuchel said of the unique uncertainty, “We have to deal with it. There are things to talk about, like how to arrive at games. Things that are normally taken care of, but now we have to stick together, give our opinions, and then we have to find solutions. There are subjects we don’t usually discuss but now we will.”
Taking it day-by-day is all the club can do right now, how much focus gets taken up with distractions that affect their performances on the pitch isn’t easy to tell. Chelsea have the squad to compete with the best in Europe, can they come together to navigate their unique issues?
Asi gana el Madri! After a 17-minute Karim Benzema hat trick gave Madrid a 3-1 win over PSG in the round of 16, Madrid are on course as they attempt to win their 14th Champions League title and first since 2018. The current La Liga leaders embrace the narrative of remontada comebacks and such myth-creating could be the fuel that Madrid needs to win the trophy.
The energy and emotion that has driven the club to the quarter-finals obscure the fact that this iteration of Real Madrid is, perhaps, not as talented as the great Madrid teams that have come to dominate European football. According to fivethirtyeight’s SPI model, Madrid have around a 7% chance to win the Champions League based on their performances this season. The odds for Madrid to win reflect this, coming in at 9/1 at the time of writing.
Who are the outsiders to win the Champions League?
Villareal, Atletico Madrid and Benfica round out the others that have a chance at lifting Champions League glory. All three would have to go some way to emerging victorious over the teams listed above. However, if you are feeling adventurous the spread betting odds for these teams are tempting.