The UEFA Champions League group stage draw has now been completed and 32 teams are about to start a journey that could end at the National Stadium of Wales in Cardiff on June 3, 2017. Can Leicester City do the unthinkable? Will Guardiola provide the trophy Manchester City so desperately crave?
Despite being the reigning champions and winning the tournament twice in the last three years, Real Madrid is third favourite in Champions League at 5.80 on Pinnaclesports. With 11 titles in total, Los Blancos are the competition’s most successful club, but it is their recent struggles in La Liga that may have affected their Champions League winner odds. Failure to win a domestic title since 2011/12 has seen Real Madrid fall behind Barcelona as the dominant force in Spanish soccer. Their infamous galácticos transfer policy (one major signing in the summer of every year) isn’t quite what it once was, but resigning Alvaro Morata from Juventus will certainly add more goals to their already lethal attack.
In addition to winning La Liga six times in the last eight seasons, Barcelona also won the Champions League in 2014/15. It is no surprise to see them head the Champions League winner odds at 4.40 on Pinnaclesports given their recent success and consistency in performing well against Europe’s elite. Recent acquisitions Lucas Digne, Samuel Umtiti and André Gomes will add even more strength in depth and providing Messi, Neymar and Suarez can continue their remarkable form, Barça still look like good value, even at such a short price. The only worry for Luis Enrique’s side is another potential showdown with Diego Simeone and Atlético Madrid (odds 13.00). Despite a less than impressive start to their La Liga campaign, Atlético always seem to perform when it matters most. Having beaten Barcelona twice in the last three years at the quarterfinal stage, it’s a draw the Catalonians will be looking to avoid.
Similarly to Barcelona, Bayern Munich have dominated their domestic league for the past few years. As well as winning four Bundesliga titles in a row, they also won the Champions League in 2012/13. They were unable to repeat that success under Pep Guardiola, yet they are still second favourites in the outright market for Champions League betting only on Pinnaclesports. Bayern have been drawn against Atlético - who beat them in the semi-final last year - in group D, but will be confident that new manager, Carlo Ancelotti, and recent summer signings Mats Hummels and Renato Sanches can help them progress further this year.
Since Sheik Mansour’s takeover in 2008, only European glory has eluded Manchestery City. The £800m+ invested in players within that time period has won them the Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup in England, but they have only managed a semi-final in the Champions League (2015/16). Instead of new players like John Stones, Leroy Sané or Ilkay Gündogan grabbing the headlines this summer, it has been the arrival of their new manager, Pep Guardiola instead. The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager is famed for his possession-centric style of soccer and unique tactical approach. Man City appear to have adapted quickly to this new style of play and at odds of 12.00 Pinnaclesports to win the competition, numerous Champions League predictions are suggesting their new manager is already having a positive effect.
Competing in their first ever Champions League, Leicester City will be looking to repeat their shock Premier League success in Europe’s most prestigious soccer tournament. The reigning champions of England are 26.00 on Pinnaclesports. The quick tempo and counter attacking soccer that helped them achieve what many thought was impossible last season could be the key to European success for Leicester. While losing N’Golo Kanté is a blow, Claudio Ranieri will be pleased that Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez have committed their future to the club. With a style of play that many of Europe’s elite clubs won’t be used to and a fairly easy group to qualify from, Leicester certainly have the potential to exceed what their Champions League winner odds suggest. At the very least, the price available provides bettors with an excellent hedging opportunity.
Juventus (11.00*) and Borussia Dortmund (19.00*) are two sides that tend to feature heavily in Champions League predictions, along with Arsenal (25.00*) and PSG (16.00*) - who have been drawn against each other in group A.
One interesting statistic to note is that the past 12 Champions League winners have hailed from Spain (six), England (three), Italy (two) or Germany (one). This stat is reflected in Pinnacle’s Champions League betting, with teams from outside of these four nations being the biggest outsiders; Rostov FK (301.00*), Legia Warsaw (301.00*), Club Brugge (301.00*) and Dinamo Zagreb (301.00*).