Can Real Madrid end the Champions League hoodoo?

Can Real Madrid end the Champions League hoodoo?

With the Champions League group stage underway, everyone will have an opinion on who will win this season’s competition.

The usual suspects head the betting, with Barcelona, Bayern Munich and defending champions Real Madrid leading the way and a handful of other potential winners among the 32 teams.

It’s a great market for providing long-term interest over the season, particularly if you have access to any free bet no deposit offers. So who could potentially be in the frame when the Millennium Stadium hosts the final on 3 June 2017?

Barcelona (best price 100/30)

Barcelona have fallen to Atletico Madrid in two of the previous three competitions, so avoiding Los Rojiblancos would be preferable this time.

Barca added depth to their squad over the summer and the signing of Paco Alcacer gives them the ability to rest / provide cover for Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez or Neymar.  Barca are clearly leading contenders.

Bayern Munich (4/1)

Semi-finalists for three consecutive seasons under Pep Guardiola, it would be a surprise were Bayern Munich to at least not replicate that under Carlo Ancelotti.

Bayern possess arguably the best balanced squad in the competition, so could be worth a punt if they can avoid significant injuries.

Real Madrid (11/2)

If Los Blancos are to retain their crown, they would become the first club to do so since the competition was rebranded as the Champions League back in 1992.

That’s a surprising statistic given that so few teams that can be considered realistic contenders in any given season although the mid-season trek for the FIFA Club World Cup doesn’t help.

However, with Cristiano Ronaldo’s fitness issues, backing Real for back-to-back titles looks risky.

Manchester City (10/1)

Without ever really looking like potential winners, City still made it through to the semi-finals of last season’s competition.  With Pep Guardiola now at the helm, a place in the last four is probably the minimum expectation this season.

Question marks over the defence remain though and they may well fall just short again.

Juventus (14/1)

The dominant force in Serie A, their signing of Gonzalo Higuain could give Juve the requisite firepower to challenge for Champions League glory.

Defensively few teams can match them for experience or quality, but the sale of Paul Pogba leaves them looking a little lightweight in midfield, particularly if Sami Khedira and Claudio Marchisio struggle for fitness. Definite each-way value.

Atlético Madrid (14/1)

Runners-up to their city neighbours in two of the last three finals, Atlético might not get many more opportunities to claim a first title before Diego Simeone opts to move on.

Atleti are probably the team that the other major contenders would least like to meet en route to the final and they should again go close. Another each-way chance.

Borussia Dortmund (20/1)

Despite losing three key players in the transfer window, Dortmund invested shrewdly and Thomas Tuchel now has an exciting young squad that has already been rattling home the goals this season.

An entertaining team for sure, but probably not one to be backing to win the Champions League just yet.

Paris Saint-Germain (22/1)

The appointment of Unai Emery as PSG boss was largely based on the Spaniard’s record in taking Sevilla to a trio of Europa League titles.

It was a fairly low-key transfer window for the perennial French champions, though, especially given the departures of Zlatan Ibrahimović and David Luiz.

It’s not been the best of starts to the new campaign either and PSG represent little value as things stand.

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