Manchester City have dominated English football for several years, and with the recruitment of Erling Haaland, they look like the best pick for the Champions League.
Who do Bettors Favor?
Following last Friday’s draw, the best-rated online sportsbooks have been putting up their UCL futures betting markets, and there is a familiar look to the prices. Manchester City are once again the strong favorites at +260, followed by PSG at between +500 and +580, with City’s Premier League rivals Liverpool close behind. German giants Bayern Munich can be backed at +720, and defending champions Real Madrid are available at between +800 and +1100
Betting on the UCL
Every tournament has its particular quirks that can influence the betting markets and betting strategy, and when you’re betting on the UCL, it is all about the Group stages. The 32 teams that have made it to this point are divided into eight groups of four, and although there is a seeding process to ensure a rough balance of quality across the groups, there are usually still some groups that are stronger and some weaker than others. The top two teams from each section go through to the knock-out stages, where the luck of the draw can have an even greater impact.
The other factors to note when looking for a tournament winner is the depth of the squad along with managerial and playing experience. Sustaining a challenge in both national and UEFA competitions is tough for smaller teams with limited resources, while teams with plenty of UCL experience, particularly on the part of the manager, are often better able to steer through the group stage effectively.
The Main Contenders
There’s a familiar look to the top of the UCL Winners Market, which is once again led by Manchester City and PSG. Both are enormously wealthy with powerful squads and dominate their national leagues. But neither has ever won the Champions League, underlining how difficult this tournament is to win.
Both have been handed straightforward Groups this time and should have no trouble reaching the knock-out stages, but for PSG in particular, there are some ominous warning signs. Two of the team’s big stars, Neymar and Kylian Mbappé, have fallen out and have made little attempt to disguise the issue.
Worse still, their argument – ostensibly over who takes the team’s penalties – have revealed a split in the squad between the mainly Spanish-speaking and French-speaking contingents. A house divided against itself cannot stand, particularly not when trying to win the world’s toughest club competition.
The other two main contenders also have their problems. Liverpool are adjusting to life without Sadio Mané and are once again mainly focused on overthrowing Manchester City in the Premier League. Bayern Munich, as dominant as ever domestically, have lost their Champions League hero Robert Lewandowski to Barcelona, who will face them in Group C, by far the toughest of the eight.
That leaves us with Pep Guardiola’s City. Under his guidance, they have reached the last eight on five occasions and have one final – a defeat to Chelsea in 2021 – to show for their efforts. Yet this time could be different. In Erling Haaland, they have a player with the potential to be one of the all-time greats, who has slotted effortlessly into the team. With doubts about their main rivals, this could, finally, be their time.
Betting on the Champions League Challengers
Defending champions Real Madrid are priced up as though they are one of the challenges, not the main contenders, which doesn’t make much sense. They have a relatively simple Group and should have no difficulty going through to the knock-out stages, and the team that won the La Liga – Champions League double last season is still together, led by the tournament’s most successful manager.
Spanish rivals Barcelona are likely to mount a stronger challenge this season, but they have a tough Group to negotiate, while Chelsea are also in a relatively difficult section. The Blues won the Champions League in 2021, but the situation at Stamford Bridge looks volatile at the moment, and it is not at all clear that Thomas Tuchel will last the season as manager, so if you’re looking for an underdog challenger, Tottenham could be a better bet. They have a top manager in Antonio Conte, have recruited wisely this summer, and are off to a solid start in the Premier League.