Sep 12, 2019
CL Futures - Best Bets
UEFA Champions League 2019-20 Betting Preview
All four finalists of Europe’s two international club competitions came from England, and after half a decade of underachievement the Premier League could dominate the Champions League again this year.
Manchester City lead the betting at 10/3 - the shortest priced favourite this competition has seen since the days of Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona - but at present they are simply Europe’s outstanding team. They have amassed an astonishing 198 points in their last two league seasons, but have only ever reached the semi-finals once in the Champions League.
They are going off unbelievably short in even tough Premier League games - for instance they were 1/5 at home to Tottenham in August. They would probably be favourites to win every match they play.
Had they not gone out in extremely unlucky circumstances last year at the quarter-final stage, Guardiola’s men would have faced a semi-final with Ajax that they would surely have won. Even with Barcelona and Liverpool - this year’s second and third favourites - facing off in the other semi-final, City would have gone into the last four odds on to lift the trophy.
Their performances this year indicate that they are not letting up. They have added shrewdly: both João Cancelo and Rodri have been long-term targets to replace the ageing Kyle Walker and Fernandinho. Raheem Sterling, meanwhile, continues his rise into the top ten players in the world. Having won two Premier Leagues on the bounce, Europe will be their main focus this year, and that could mean they rest players in easy league games to get the most out of their Champions League campaign.
They are 1/6 to win an easy group - and at the moment you would not fancy anyone to beat them.
Out of Barcelona at 5/1 and Liverpool at 13/2, it is Liverpool who make the greater appeal. Although their defence looks slightly more frail than it did last season, the Reds fully deserved to win their extraordinary semi-final against Barça, and their start to the season indicates that last year was no flash in the pan.
At home Liverpool are almost indestructible: they have not lost in the league at Anfield for over two years. In Europe their home ground continues to be a fortress and the home of countless unlikely comeback victories. Absolutely no-one will want to face Jürgen Klopp’s men - especially Manchester City, who were knocked out by Liverpool on the way to the final two years ago.
The big thing that counts against them is their lack of squad depth. Their reserve front three is miles behind City’s, and it is likely that they will suffer more injuries than they did last year.
Barcelona have only made one final in the last eight years, and although the signings of Antoine Griezmann and Frenkie de Jong should rejuvenate them, their price simply looks a tiny bit too short. They are vulnerable to more than just a solid defence, as Liverpool’s win over them last year proved, and they may need to wait until the English giants rebuild for their next triumph.
The next four sides in the betting are Real Madrid at 9/1, PSG at 10/1, Juventus at 11/1 and Bayern Munich at 12/1.
There are good reasons for the gap between this cluster and the front three. Real Madrid have made another dismal start to their league campaign with just one win from their first three league games, and although they have splashed out in the transfer window, it may take one more summer of rebuilding for them to properly contend.
PSG’s exit to Manchester United was so unlucky that it almost defied belief, and they probably make the most appeal of these four sides. They are paired with Real Madrid in a group, however, and despite their huge attacking talent their history of choking means I will be swerving them.
Juventus are the Italian front-runners, but Maurizio Sarri’s attacking approach may not be ideal for tense European knockout ties, while Bayern Munich have done hardly anything in the transfer market and look vulnerable in their defence of their Bundesliga title already.
Atletico Madrid, on the other hand, always look an appealing bet in the Champions League. Since 2013-14 they have reached the final twice, exited in the semis, quarters and last 16 once each, and have also won the Europa League. At 20/1 they look the best each way value in the tournament.
Although inspirational captain Diego Godin has departed, his international teammate Jose Gimenez is ably stepping into his role as leader of the defence, while the signing of Portuguese starlet João Félix from Benfica looks a real coup. Yes, they have lost Rodri and Griezmann, as well as long-standing full-backs Juanfran and Filipe Luis, but Diego Simeone is an expert at replacin his best players year after year. Their group of Juventus, Bayer Leverkusen and Lokomotiv Moscow could be easier, but they are heavy favourites to qualify and are always a nightmare to play against in knockout football.
For an outsider, RB Leipzig look a really interesting prospect at 66/1. They were the big winners of the draw - being with Zenit St Petersburg, easily the worst team in pot 1, along with Benfica, who have a terrible recent record in the Champions League, and a potentially dangerous Lyon side. This is easily the tightest draw in the competition, but under the superb Julian Nagelsmann the German side look good value to win the group. In Timo Werner they have one of Europe’s best centre-forwards, and he could make the difference in tight games in the competition’s latter stages.
Manchester City at 10/3
Atletico Madrid at 20/1
RB Leipzig at 66/1