As we approach the end of the qualifying rounds for the 2018-19 UEFA Champions’ League group stages, anticipation is growing for the start of the real action, when the main contenders start their campaigns. This season, four sides from each of Spain, Germany, England and Italy, plus three from France and Russia, along with the leading clubs from Belgium, Portugal and the Netherlands, will form the nucleus of the 32 teams in the group stages, along with six sides who make it via either the League Path or Champions Path.
All will be vying to make it to the Metropolitano Stadium, Madrid, Spain on 1 June 2019 for the final, the most prestigious single game in European football.
With the transfer windows still open in most European leagues (with the exception of the Premier League, which closed earlier this year on 9 August) and domestic competitions only just beginning or not yet underway, it is hard to get a full football betting form line as of yet, although the markets are starting to take shape on the back of teams’ summer transfer dealings and their previous track records in Europe.
Most observers would agree that Pep Guardiola was hired by Manchester City to win the Champions’ League, something they have not yet managed to do despite the enormous sums of money that have been poured into the club in recent times. However, after romping away to the 2017-18 Premier League title by 19 points, City has undoubtedly strengthened its squad even further with the addition of Riyad Mahrez from Leicester City for £60 million, and therefore is rightly installed as the favourite to win the Champions’ League with almost every leading football betting site.
A price of 6-1 with BetVictor is currently the best you can get on Guardiola’s men finally going all the way, although City are 11-2 at most football betting sites, including 888 Sport. The likes of 888 Sport though will often seek to compensate on the longer odds by offering price boosts and other welcome promotions, often on a par with the welcome bonuses and promotions offered by their casino brand (for more info see this 888 Casino review).
Next favorite in the betting is Barcelona, who will be aiming for their sixth title and first since 2015. The Catalans have been busy in the summer transfer window, bringing in Brazilian attacking midfielder Malcom from Bordeaux for €41 million, French defender Clement Lenglet from Sevilla for €36 million and Gremio’s Brazilian midfielder Arthur for €27.9 million. Ernesto Valverde’s side is currently a best price of 13-2 with William Hill, Betfair and PaddyPower, although most sports betting sites have them a little shorter at 6-1.
After having splashed out €100 million to bring Cristiano Ronaldo to Turin from Real Madrid, Juventus will also be hoping to bring the Champions’ League title to the Allianz Stadium for the first time since 1996, an unconscionably long drought for a club of Juve’s pedigree. Whether CR7 will make the difference or not remains to be seen, but most football betting sites are rating the Old Lady as a serious contender this campaign at a price of 6-1 — BetVictor is the only stand out in this regard, as they will give you 7-1.
While Juventus are pinning their hopes on a Ronaldo-led win, Paris St Germain will be hoping that a Neymar-inspired side can finally show some mettle when it matters and win a first ever European title. If they are to do so, it will require something from new manager Thomas Tuchel that other PSG managers have failed to do, and that is turn a team of stars into a team that can actually play together when the pressure is on. Most football bookmakers don’t seem entirely convinced of the German’s chances of doing so, however, with PSG currently showing a best price of 8-1 at Unibet and BetFred, although they are priced at 6-1 by Coral and Ladbrokes.
The only other two sides who the bookies seem to think at this stage are in serious contention to win the Champions’ League are Bayern Munich and Real Madrid. You can get a best price of 8-1 on the German champions winning a sixth title (their first since 2013), and on a Ronaldo-less Real Madrid making it an unprecedented four titles in a row under new manager Julen Lopetegui.
Perhaps the best value bet in the early markets is last year’s runners-up Liverpool to go one better this season. Having splashed out more than £170 million in the summer to bring in Naby Keïta from RB Leipzig, Fabinho from Monaco, Xherdan Shaqiri from Stoke City and Alisson from Roma, the 14-1 you can get on Liverpool at the moment at SkyBet seems a bit on the generous side, and so it might be worth an early punt on the Champions’ League trophy returning to Anfield for the first time since 2005.