We are now through our first round of fixtures in the Champions League group stages after this year’s tournament got underway on the 6th September. Thirty-two teams entered the group stages on their path to the final in 2023, which takes place at the Atatürk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul.
An exciting first week saw shock results and mauling’s as Chelsea were rocked by Croatian side Dinamo Zagreb, a result that would ultimately be Thomas Tuchel’s final game in charge of the West London club. Elsewhere, Liverpool suffered their worst defeat in the Champions League since 2019 when they were dismantled by Napoli by four goals to one.
There was success between the other two premier league clubs however with Spurs and Man City winning 2-0 and 3-0 respectively versus Marseille and Sevilla.
The latter are currently the football betting favourites to lift the famous ‘big-eared’ trophy this year, and when you look at their performances so far it is clear to see why. City signed arguably the biggest talent in world football during the summer transfer window in Erling Haaland and to say he has hit the ground running would be an understatement. The Norwegian bagsman has already netted 12 goals in just 8 games so far (all comps), with the £50m that City paid to activate his release clause at Borussia Dortmund looking like an absolute steal.
Who Are This Year’s Favourites to Win the Champions League?
Pep Guardiola has the disposal of world-class talent up and down the field and the Spaniard has dominated English football since his arrival in 2016, winning the league four times in six seasons. However, the Champions League title has so far eluded him on the blue side of Manchester, in fact it is the only trophy he has competed for and not won since being at the club. The sheer quality of this City side cannot be understated however, and they are deserved top favourites yet again.
Let’s take a look at the rest of the favourites for this year’s tournament.
Paris Saint-Germain – 9/2
PSG are another super rich club who have so far been unable to get their hands on the biggest trophy in European football. However, despite their shortcomings in the tournament in recent years, the French champions’ still find them second on the list of favourites.
They boast arguably the most gifted front-three in the world in the form of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi, with the debate over ‘who is better Haaland or Mbappe?’ akin to the Ronaldo/Messi debate. Les Parisians will head into this year’s fixtures with a change in personnel after sacking former head coach Mauricio Pochettino at the end of last season. Now led by former Nice manager Christophe Galtier, there will be high hopes at the Parc De Princes once again this season.
Bayern Munich – 11/2
German giants Bayern Munich will be going for their seventh European cup this season under the leadership of one of the best young coaches in the world, Julian Nagelsmann. The 35-year-old left RB Leipzig in 2021 to join Die Roten and experienced immediate success, winning the league and Supercup in his first season.
Known for his gegenpressing style whilst maintaining possession, Nagelsmann is somewhat of a prodigy. The German will be hoping to build on Bayern’s quarter-final loss last year as they also start life without start striker Robert Lewandowski. Boosted by the signings of Sadio Mane and Ryan Gravenberch, Bayern’s squad is certainly strong enough to mount a serious challenge this season.
Liverpool – 8/1
Although their odds took a hit following their heavy loss to Napoli in match week one, Liverpool still find themselves amongst the favourites. Also going for their seventh European cup, Liverpool are the most successful English team in European competition, having one their sixth in 2019 before narrowly losing the final to Real Madrid last year.
Manager Jurgen Klopp is also known for his gegenpress style which has overwhelmed teams in the Premier League for years. They boast great attacking talent in Mo Salah, Luis Diaz, Roberto Firmino and now recent summer signing Darwin Nunez who joined from Benfica for a reported £85m. They also have arguably the best centre-back in the world in the form of Virgil Van Dijk. The Reds have suffered with injuries of recent however and their depth in midfield is notably lacking. However, if they can get their best players back to full fitness, they are another team who pose a serious threat throughout the competition.
These are just some of the top favourites for the Champions League this year but there are still teams such as Real Madrid and Barcelona who, whilst maybe not the superpower’s of old, still have it in their locker. Whoever is successful this year it is sure to be yet another exciting tournament.
Got stuck in a game? Don’t worry, Steve is here to solve all your queries and give you some hacks about your favorite game.