The elongated process of a UEFA draw was conducted last week as clubs across Europe finally found out who they would be jostling with in the group stages of the continent’s premier cup competition.
Five English clubs entered the draw, while the second year of the rejigged seeding made for various hypothetical best and worst draws for each club. Obviously no one ended up in the theoretical ‘group of death’, but the draw did have its own winners and losers and that had a marked impact on the outright odds to lift the big-eared trophy...
Real Madrid, the holders and undisputed current kings of world football right now, are the 4/1 favourites to retain the trophy again. Having reigned victorious in three of the last four campaigns, the 4/1 price is understandable despite being drawn in a relatively challenging group alongside Borussia Dortmund and Tottenham.
In fact, few teams look capable of posing a real challenge to Zinedine Zidane’s side, who decimated Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup.
Elsewhere in the market, Paris Saint Germain – who are fresh from obliterating the world record transfer fee to sign Neymar – appear at 6/1 as second favourites despite their humiliation at the hands of Barcelona last season.
In a group with Anderlecht, Celtic and Bayern, Unai Emery’s side are as good as guaranteed for the last 16 and will likely be in a straight shoot out with Bayern for the top spot in the group. Potential signings Kylian Mbappe and Fabinho would improve their chances, but the Ligue 1 club are hardly a value price given their Champions League shortcomings in recent years.
One of the toughest groups this season is Group C, where Chelsea, AS Roma and Atletico Madrid will battle it out and Qarabag will hope to avoid humiliations. It forces the odds on success for Chelsea and Atletico to be longer than we may have expected, with the clubs sitting at 17/1 and 22/1 respectively.
Antonio Conte’s struggles in this competition while Juventus manager might be a concern for the Blues, but their odds are one of the more tempting in the draw given their Premier League dominance last term.
The two Manchester clubs – who were far more fortunate than Chelsea with their groups – are neck and neck at 11/1. Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola are under severe pressure to deliver success this season, and have enjoyed successful summer windows.
Despite their strong start domestically, this price feels a bit short for Mourinho’s men given their goal scoring struggles last season and Guardiola’s side still have gaping holes in their defence that could prove their undoing in the knockout rounds as it did against Monaco last season.
Away from the big three that so often dominate the Champions League betting, the 17/1 price belonging to the 2015 and 2017 runners-up, Juventus, is the pick from this market.
How they fare against Barcelona in the group stage will not matter as much as we all like to believe each season, and Olympiacos or Sporting will not pose a significant threat. Serie A will be a greater challenge for the Old Lady than in previous years, but Max Allegri’s side could be kings of Europe again.
*All odds accurate at the original time of writing - click here for the latest markets*