As the dust finally settles on last year’s World Cup in Qatar, the international theater of war has called a truce for the foreseeable future. However, the same cannot be said for skirmishes within club soccer and especially within Europe. UEFA Champions League has returned, meaning it’s time to examine the odds.
After undergoing its usual post-group stage hiatus, the tournament prepares to burst back into life. And with 32 initial entrants whittled down to 16, the knockout phase has arrived. And with Europe’s elite ready to continue their quest to conquer the continent, the biggest names within the game will be once again head-to-head in the pursuit of victory.
With 16 teams still playing an active part in the 2022-23 edition of the Champions League, the list of potential winners is rather lengthy. This offers plenty of options when it comes to the outright betting market.
Such market begs questions. Will Manchester City or PSG finally get their hands on the trophy? Can Real Madrid keep hold of their current status as kings of Europe? And who is this season’s continental dark horse?
Read our guide to the UEFA Champions League and we will do our best to find the answers.
Champions League Odds: Outright Hopefuls
Manchester City ()
For all the silverware that has been delivered to the Etihad, the Champions League trophy still eludes. It does not matter how many millions of dollars the club has spent. They simply cannot secure the holy grail.
Something that is certainly a point of frustration for manager Pep Guardiola. And although he managed to deliver the trophy as Barcelona boss in both 2009 and 2011, it is more than a decade since he has ruled Europe’s roost himself.
Once again, City finds themselves as outright favorites at this stage of the competition. And once again, many will be tempted to back the blue half of Manchester. Then again, many punters have been here before and had their fingers burnt as well.
With that said, all is not well in terms of the defense of the Premier League. Arsenal currently sits top of the table. An insurmountable gap between the two may subsequently pay dividends for Guardiola on his European front. Should the Gunners fire their way to a first Premier League title in 19 years, it may allow City to finally go for broke in the Champions League. If domestic domination has to be sacrificed for European excellence, they will likely hear few complaints from their support.
Bayern Munich ()
Although Manchester City is favorite by some distance, they are certainly not the only horse in this season’s Champions League race. With a German thoroughbred ready to continue its stride, one would overlook Bayern Munich at one’s peril.
With the Bavarian outfit once again sitting at the top of the Bundesliga, an 11th successive league title looks more probability than possibility. The quicker that Julian Nagelsmann’s men can wrap up domestic success, the greater focus they can place on beating Europe’s very best.
Something that they have not achieved since 2020. And although Robert Lewandowski has long since departed for La Liga, the German giants still have the likes of Serge Gnabry, Leroy Sane and Sadio Mane in their weaponry.
A fearsome attack line will be supplemented by a new addition at the back. Step forward none other than Joao Cancelo. After the Portuguese defender demanded more minutes at Manchester City, the club instead gave him a nudge towards the exit door. Cancelo may only be on loan for now but perhaps more importantly, he is still eligible to play against his parent club. Soccer certainly moves in strange ways and what stranger ways than the 28-year-old helping his new employers to another Champions League crown?
Lionel Messi, Neymar, Kylian Mbappe. A front three that strikes fear into any opposition’s defense. However, this trio has yet to deliver the richest prize in club soccer. And when you look at PSG’s recent club form, they may have to wait another year at least.
Although the Paris-based club sits top of Ligue 1, they have found positive results hard to come by in recent weeks. Coincidentally (or perhaps not) this slump occurred after last year’s World Cup with Messi certainly not firing on all cylinders.
In fairness to the mercurial Argentine, where do you go after winning in Qatar? The only answer to that is down. Fighting something of a hangover, it could also hamper his team’s progress in Europe.
With that said, this could be the last hurrah for this triumvirate. With Mbappe continually linked with a move to Real Madrid, this season may offer the final opportunity for him to win the Champions League in PSG’s famous colors.
Not only that, but there is the small matter of having to face Bayern Munich in the round of 16. Undoubtedly, this will be the match of interest this round, as two European juggernauts square off. At the same time, it could spell the end of the road for Paris’ version of the Harlem Globetrotters.
Champions League Odds: Longer Shots
Real Madrid ()
Real Madrid may only be the fifth favorites at the time of writing, but you simply write this team off at your peril. Los Blancos have lifted the Champions League (or the European Cup as it was previously known) on 14 separate occasions. No other entity has come close to that level of success.
Carlo Ancelotti’s men weren’t fancied in last season’s edition of the tournament but still had the nous to go all the way. This squad has been there many times before. Winning big matches is simply in their DNA.
Even though Real Madrid does not drip with the talent that it had a decade or so ago, there is certainly balance to the team in recent years. They are never a name you want to see as your pairing in the tournament draw.
Especially when you look at the likes of Karim Benzema and Luka Modric, two evergreen talents that continually defy logic in terms of age.
Liverpool has picked the short straw in the round of 16. And if Real disposes of them, the outright odds of the Santiago Bernabeu outfit are only going to plummet. If you are looking for value, you should not hesitate in backing Real Madrid as soon as possible.
When Tottenham reached the 2019 Champions League final, it was meant to be the launchpad for greater things. Unfortunately for the North London outfit, that launchpad has proven more of an aborted mission.
After losing out to Liverpool in the Spanish capital of Madrid, Spurs have found themselves in something of a holding pattern. They may have one of the best stadiums in Europe, but they do not have the level of personnel to match it.
However, they do have one of Europe’s best managers at the helm. And although Antonio Conte is currently unwilling to commit his long-term future to the club, he still has the opportunity to work with Harry Kane for a few more months.
The England captain may have suffered disappointment after missing the chance to become England’s record goalscorer in Qatar. But, a subsequent string of impressive performances in Tottenham colors suggest the penalty miss against France hasn’t weighed on his mind.
Instead, his mind will be on finally ending Tottenham’s trophy drought. One that currently stands at 15 years and counting. Add European success as Conte’s parting gift and the Premier League side could serve as this season’s Champions League dark horse.
My Future Bet
Real Madrid To Reach Final ()
With PSG and Bayern Munich facing each other in the round of 16, it means one of the big guns will soon be sent packing. You can also say the same about Real Madrid and Liverpool. In this instance, I see a repeat of last season’s final outcome.
That success occurred in 90 minutes. It will take at least 180 for Carlo Ancelotti to get the better of Jurgen Klopp this time. Should this two-legged affair go to plan, the road to this season’s Champions League final then becomes a lot shorter.
Of course, the quarterfinal draw may throw up another big hurdle. However, I really like the look of Real Madrid reaching the final in Istanbul.
At +500, just for the holders to reach June’s showpiece event, I think that is a terrific piece of value. Should they get to the final and fall short, it will still mean profit for those who get involved at this early stage. And with Los Blancos’ European pedigree on show, it is hard to ignore such a bet.
Good luck betting Champions League futures odds.