The January transfer window is now over and there are only two weeks left until the return of the UEFA Champions League. I believe now is the perfect time to assess the favorites for the most prestigious European tournaments.
I’ve picked only teams that have a genuine chance to lift the trophy, in my opinion. Also, the order I used is determined by the odds of the leading bookmakers on the market.
If there’s a team that didn’t need recruitment in January, that’s Liverpool. The Reds have been the best team in Europa by a country mile so far. They have been breaking records all season long and the English Premier League title is certainly going to finish at the Anfield.
The large gap in the domestic league will allow the Reds to focus on retaining the UCL title as well. The side’s only potential problem could come from injuries of key players.
If the squad stays healthy, Liverpool is the top favorite to win the Champions League.
It’s worth mentioning that the Reds did add another player in the winter. Takumi Minamino has arrived after impressing for Red Bull Salzburg. I believe he is one for the future, though.
Most betting sites believe that Manchester City is among the favorites for the Champions League. Pep will be desperate to win the trophy and the Spaniard will certainly target the competition.
The problem is that City’s defense is simply not good enough. We’ve seen it time and time again this season. Even the defeat against Tottenham on Saturday highlighted the problems at the back. Pep Guardiola refused to buy another player, so that is unlikely to change by the end of the season.
If you add that the next opponent is Real Madrid, I would say that Manchester City is not in a good position right now.
Another big favorite that has plenty of issues is Barcelona. The team was leaking too many goals and that cost Ernesto Valverde his job. The new head coach Quique Setien is trying to solve the problem by forcing his players to keep the ball as long as possible.
That is hurting Barcelona’s attack and the early signs are not good. The side is looking toothless and lacks balance.
If something doesn’t change quickly, the Spaniards won’t be a threat in the Champions League.
Since Niko Kovac was fired, Bayern Munich has been playing much better. The team is scoring for fun and has returned to the top of the German Bundesliga.
The problem is that the likes of RB Leipzig and Borussia Monchengladbach are too close. The battle for the domestic title will be fierce and that could hurt Bayern’s chances in Europe.
The team will also have to face Chelsea and that’s a relatively tough draw for the Round of 16.
The French champions certainly have the quality to compete in the UEFA Champions League. The biggest concern is related to the cohesion and harmony in the squad.
Neymar Jr. was on the brink of leaving in the summer and Kylian Mbappe wasn’t happy with Thomas Tuchel after an early substitution during the weekend. The two men allegedly met to clear the air, but the overall impression is that PSG isn’t exactly a team.
It’s more like a bunch of stars chasing what’s best for their individual careers. That could be an issue in the Champions League and I won’t be completely shocked if the French side is knocked out by Borussia Dortmund in the first round of the eliminations.
Juventus has been far from the team we were used to see at the start of the season, but the Italian champions are looking stronger with every single game. Cristiano Ronaldo is scoring for fun and the team knows how to defend.
I expect Juventus to become dangerous in the later stages of the competition and the club shouldn’t be underestimated.
The only potential issue I see is that Juventus will be engaged in a proper domestic title fight for the first time in years. Playing on two fronts might hurt the team’s chances of success in Europe.
I don’t think that Real Madrid is quite strong enough to win the Champions League and Los Blancos will face Manchester City next. And yet, can you really write the team off with Zinedine Zidane at the helm?
The Frenchman was capable of leading Real Madrid to three consecutive UCL titles and the team wasn’t exactly flying in all of the seasons. Zidane somehow manages to motivate his players for the most important battles.
If the team beats Manchester City in the next round, that could lift the whole squad and the sky will be the limit.
I probably won’t shock anyone by saying that Liverpool is the most likely winner right now. And yet, the Champions League is a knockout tournament, so anything is possible. The likes of Bayern and Juventus are underrated by many but could go all the way.
The rest of the favorites have plenty of issues right now, but with some good fortune, any of them could lift the trophy at the end.