European club football is so nearly back with us. Players have returned back to training at different times depending on their World Cup involvement, leaving some managers with their hands tied as the season begins.
The campaign after a summer tournament can be a slow starter, particularly for those who had several players in the latter rounds in Russia. With squads becoming clearer, let’s take a look round the top European leagues…
To the surprise of literally no one, Bayern Munich are the overwhelming favourites to win the Bundesliga at 1/7. The Bavarian giants have not had the best summer but are still a cut above the majority of their competition.
Borussia Dortmund have made changes after losing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the winter window. Andriy Yarmolenko, Sokratis, Gonzalo Castro and Andre Schurrle have all departed. The replacements are shrewd, if unexciting. It will be fun under Lucien Favre, but a challenge to Bayern is improbable.
Bayer Leverkusen, who finished outside the top four last season, are 9/10 to make the top four this time around. They have retained the majority of their talented youngsters, though, and should improve on 2017/18.
Wolfsburg had a close shave with a shock relegation but have made good additions this summer. It’d be a surprise to see them in such trouble again.
Despite scoring only 13 Bundesliga goals last season, Timo Werner looks a decent price at 11/1 to top score.
Tip: Wolfsburg to finish in the top 10 @ Evens
Like in neighbouring Germany, the French top flight is a one-horse race. Paris Saint Germain are 1/14 to win the title before a ball is kicked. The Parisians have had to sell off players this summer, but that’s not exactly going to make this an interesting title fight.
Lyon are down to be PSG’s nearest competitors. Their summer has been a success to date, as they managed to fend off interest from Liverpool for Nabil Fekir. Fekir is value at 14/1 to be the top assister in Ligue 1.
Similar to last season, the chasing pack are expected to be very close. Lyon, Monaco and Marseille are well balanced on paper, and finished just three points apart last term.
Monaco and Marseille are both at 11/20 to make the top three. Despite losing Thomas Lemar, Fabinho and Joao Moutinho, Monaco are set to be strong again. Their recruitment and development of youngsters has been proven to produce on an annual basis. It will be interesting to see which player bursts onto the scene this year.
Marseille’s duo of Dimitri Payet and Florian Thauvin were superb last season. Assuming they can retain the pair in the dying embers of the window, Payet – who was joint-top assister in 2017/18 – is a good price at 5/1 to assist more goals than anyone else. Thauvin could be a fun 60/1 longshot for the Golden Boot.
Tip: Dimitri Payet to be top assister @ 5/1
Barcelona are 4/5 to win another LaLiga title. Real Madrid are out at 8/5, a surprisingly short price given the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo and the failure of the Bernabeu big wigs to recruit anyone to step into those impossibly enormous shoes.
Los Blancos have added teenagers Vinicius Junior and 22-year-old winger Alvaro Odriozola this summer. Barcelona signed Arturo Vidal, Malcom, Arthur and Clement Lenglet as they begin the post-Iniesta era.
Atletico Madrid have had the best window of big sides, however. Diego Simeone’s squad has been reinforced with Thomas Lemar, Gelson Martins, Rodri and Santiago Arias as they move on from their own club legend, Gabi.
The frontline looks formidable for the noisiest neighbours in world sport. Simeone’s side at 8/1 to win the title is one of the standout bets around Europe.
Valencia had a 12-point cushion as they claimed fourth spot last season. Having lost Joao Cancelo, they have reinforced the midfield with the arrival of the energetic Daniel Wass and youngster Uros Racic.
Their 6/4 price to make the top four looks good value given their performance last season and the summers of Sevilla and Villarreal.
You have to go back to 2010/11 for the last time Juventus didn’t win Serie A. This summer, the Old Lady added Cristiano Ronaldo to a team that has dominated Italy for the best part of a decade. Even with Ronaldo, Juve are only 4/9 to win the league, a lengthy price compared to Bayern and PSG.
Napoli at least made it a contest last season. Things are different in Naples this year, though, with Maurizio Sarri replaced by Carlo Ancelotti and midfield lynchpin Jorginho having departed, they are 6/1 second favourites to lift the Scudetto.
Fabian Ruiz and Simone Verdi give reason for cautious optimism at Stadio San Paolo, but squad depth is still a concern as Napoli look to compete on multiple fronts.
Inter have had a massive window. Already boasting one of the elite strikers in Mauro Icardi, the Milanese club have acquired Radja Nainggolan to join Croatian duo Ivan Perisic and Marcelo Brozovic in midfield. They look great value at 13/20 to finish in the top three. Icardi at 7/2 to top score isn’t bad, either.
It’s set up to be a fascinating tussle between the top six in Italy. Milan have added certain goals in Gonzalo Higuain, Roma have refreshed their squad with a clutch of gifted youngsters and Lazio have kept hold of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Ciro Immobile.
Inter look well poised to push Juventus this season. The Perisic-to-Icardi combination will prove key if the Nerazzuri are to be a real contender for a first Scudetto since Jose Mourinho.
Tip: Ivan Perisic to be the top assister @ 13/1
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*