Champions League 2018/19 Preview

champions leagueIf you’re a football fan, you surely feel the goosebumps any time you hear the Champions League anthem. The UEFA Champions League is the premier competition for the top clubs in Europe, who test their skills against each other in delightful matches for football fans. The Champions League features a lot of action, drama, joy, tears, and disappointment, but no matter how many times it breaks the heart of football fans, every football fan on Earth is impatiently waiting for it to start.

The Champions League starts in mid-September and features 32 teams from all around Europe. The champions of the 5 major leagues in Europe directly qualify for the competition, with second-placed teams often joining them, and champions from lesser-known leagues taking their spot through qualifications.

Throughout history, the Champions League often changes its format and name. The current format puts 32 teams in 8 groups playing each other in the so-called double-robin system. Two teams from each group advance to the knockout round of the tournament where they play two games (home and away) to reach the final. The final takes place near the end of the football season in May and is a one-match event.

Real Madrid is the most successful team in the competition with 13 titles, 4 of them in the past 5 seasons including 3 consecutive ones. Spanish teams have dominated the Champions League in the past decade – Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Inter, and Manchester United are the only teams to win the trophy besides Barcelona and Real Madrid since 07/08.

This year’s Champions League will be pretty exciting to watch. Manchester City, Barcelona, Juventus, Liverpool, and Real Madrid are all poised to sit on the European throne, but only one can win the title.

Who’s the Favourite?

There are many factors that make this year’s Champions League pretty interesting. Fans are dying to see if Manchester City finally wins a European title or if Liverpool can get to the final again. Barcelona is surely not going to allow themselves to fall out of the competition like the last 3 seasons, while Cristiano Ronaldo’s surprising signing with Juventus makes the Italian champions one of the major favourites. Real Madrid should never be written off – they may have lost Ronaldo, but they still have a plethora of world-class players.

When it comes to bookies, Manchester City is the leading favourite to win the competition with odds of 9/2 (Fun88, SportPesa, LV BET, EnergyBet). Sitting behind them is Catalan pride FC Barcelona with odds of 6/1. Juventus is lurking just behind with 13/2, while a bit surprisingly, Paris Saint Germain has leapfrogged Real Madrid as the 4th favourite for this year’s Champions League with odds of 15/2 at Fun88 and SportPesa and 7/1 at LV BET and EnergyBet.

Next on the list is Real Madrid (8/1 at SportPesa and Fun88; 9/1 at EnergyBet and LV BET), with Bayern Munich breathing down their neck. A bit surprisingly, Liverpool is sitting behind the German champions even after getting to last year’s final and reinforcing their squad this year with quality players. The English side is being given odds of 11/1 at LV BET and EnergyBet and 12/1 at Fun88 and SportPesa.

Young Boys and AEK Athens are at the bottom of the list of favourites, with former champions Inter Milan and Italian side Roma sitting right in the middle of the table. All these odds show that we’re in for an exciting season of Champions League football, hoping that someone can end Real Madrid’s hegemony.

Who Will Top the Goalscoring List?

Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi

When it comes to goalscorers, everyone expects Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo to top the list, and this year’s bookie expectations are no different. Messi leads the list with odds of 9/2 at SportPesa and Fun88 and 5/1 at EnergyBet and LV BET. Juventus’ marquee signing Cristiano Ronaldo is the second top goalscorer favourite with odds 6/1 at Fun88, LV BET, EnergyBet, and SportPesa, while Sergio Aguero is right behind his back (13/2 at Fun88 and SportPesa; 7/1 at LV BET and EnergyBet).

Surprisingly, Tottenham’s Harry Kane is pretty far behind the favourites with odds of 14/1 at all bookies, while Bayern’s Robert Lewandowski is 4th on the list with 11/1 at SportPesa and Fun88 and 12/1 at EnergyBet and LV BET. Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah, who was one of the best players in European football last year comes next, sharing the odds as Neymar (12/1 at Fun88 and SportPesa; 14/1 at EnergyBet and LV BET).

Even further down the list is Barcelona’s hitman Luis Suarez. The Uruguayan striker currently stands at 18/1 (Fun88, SportPesa) and 20/1 (EnergyBet, LV BET). The surprising odds for Kane or Suarez shouldn’t be that much of a surprise – except for the 2014/15 season when Neymar, Messi, and Ronaldo all scored 10 goals in the competition (tied at #1), either Messi or Ronaldo have secured the top CL goalscorer award since the 07/08 season.

The Group of Death

Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo

When it comes to group favourites, we all have a pretty good idea who’ll top the standings. However, each Champions League season features a so-called Group of Death where 3 or 4 great teams face off against each other. This year, it’s Group C, where Liverpool, Napoli, Paris Saint Germain and outside Red Star Belgrade have been drawn together.

Paris Saint Germain is the favourite on paper, with odds of 10/11 at Fun88 and SportPesa and 9/10 at LV BET and EnergyBet. Liverpool is sitting behind them (27/20 at LV BET and EnergyBet; 7/5 at SportPesa and Fun88). Napoli is third, while Red Star Belgrade are complete outsiders in Group C.

Although the French side is the obvious favourite, we’re not really sure they’ll win the matches against Liverpool or Napoli that easily. Both the English and Italian team will be a stern opponent, especially at home, so PSGs odds should be taken with a grain of salt.

Elsewhere, Barcelona have been drawn in a tricky group with PSV, Inter Milan, and Tottenham. Bookies see the Spanish side as the major favourite to win Group B (10/19 at SportPesa and Fun88; 4/9 at LV BET and EnergyBet). However, neither team from this group should be written off before time, especially when it comes to Tottenham, who have shown they can beat big teams last year.

Exciting Matches Ahead

Thanks to the interesting groups this year, football fans will feast their eyes on some pretty exciting clashes right on the first matchday. Liverpool – Paris Saint Germain is surely the most exciting match to see. Marathon Bet thinks Liverpool will win the match, giving the Kop odds of 13/10. The French side is not too far away with odds of 85/40, which are pretty enticing for punters considering the amount of firepower PSG has. The odds for the favourite are similar at SportPesa and Fun88, who are giving Liverpool odds of 6/5 to win the match.

If you’re not a fan of 3-way betting, you can be sure that Marathon Bet has plenty more markets for this match and all the other group matches for the 18/19 Champions League.

The match between Inter Milan and Tottenham will surely be exciting to watch as well. The English side is only a slight favourite over Inter Milan – Fun88 and SportPesa favour Tottenham at 8/5 over Inter’s odds of 17/10. Things aren’t that different at Marathon Bet – the bookie is giving Tottenham odds of 169/100 and 183/100 for Inter.

Of course, all operators are offering a variety of other markets for all the matches in the Champions League. You can try your hand at handicap betting, double chance, bet on total goals or who scores first or try your hands at many of the exciting specials such as to win to nil or both teams to score.