Breaking Down The Top Ten 2019/20 Champions League Favourites

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After a weekend of Premier League football and the tedious hell of international football is firmly behind us, it is time to focus our attention to the greatest competition in club football. The Champions League returns for the 2019/20 season on Tuesday night. Finally midweek games are worth watching again.

This season’s Champions League will inevitably provide no end of surprises, drama and brilliant storylines, just as the season before it. Who will be this years’ Ajax? Can Inter Milan or Bayern Leverkusen make it out of their respective impossible groups? Can English football dominate European competitions again this year? It won’t be long until all of these questions have been answered.

Before the fun begins, let’s take stock of the ten teams who have been portrayed as favourites for the Champions League crown.

*teams ranked in order of odds provided by “https://www.oddschecker.com/football/champions-league/winner” as of 16/09/2019*

Breaking Down The Top Ten 2019/20 Champions League Favourites

10. Borussia Dortmund

Group: Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund, Inter Milan, Slavia Prague

Dortmund make the top ten after running Bundesliga champions to the wire last season. Acquiring club legend Mats Hummels before the start of the season has brought a steeliness to Dortmund’s defense that hasn’t been seen since Jurgen Klopp.

Meanwhile the likes of Jadon Sancho, Marko Reus and Thorgan Hazard form one of the more devestating attacking forces in European football. The only thing that stops Dortmund from being any higher in this list is the strength of their group. Inter Milan will look to make things as awkward as possible for the German side and therefore Lucien Farve’s side will probably have to take points from Barcelona to secure their place in the knockout rounds.

9. Tottenham Hotspur

Group: Bayern Munich, Tottenham Hotspur, Olympiacos, Red Star Belgrade

Last year’s unexpected finalists. Tottenham shocked the world beating Manchester City in their breathtaking quarter-final tie and provided another of the tournament’s most memorable moments coming from behind in the semi-final against Ajax following heroics from Lucas Moura.

Spurs fell victim to the big stage last year, never really getting going in what proved to be a very lackluster final. Having finally invested in their squad this summer Tottenham will be hoping their manager can inspire more heroics this season as they look to be a regular in the final stages of European competition.

Group B isn’t as treacherous as it first seems, Olympiacos and Red Star aren’t easy opponents (as Red Star showed last season, beating eventual winners Liverpool when they traveled to Serbia) but there were tougher potential opponents in pots three and four. It will be interesting to see if they can top their group and secure a slightly easier round of 16 tie.

8. Atletico Madrid

Group: Juventus, Atletico, Bayern Leverkusen, Lokomotiv Moscow

Atletico Madrid feel like the best side that nobody is talking about. Simeone has gotten his team accustomed to the latter stages of the Champions League, featuring in three of the last six semi-final stages.

Losing Griezmann will feel like a blow, but the reality is that Atleti have spent the summer, and that astronomical fee, into a side that will be able to compete for seasons to come. The average age of Atletico’s new arrivals is below 24 years of age, meaning stalwarts such as Diego Godin (33), Juanfran (34) and Felipe Luis (33) have all been replaced by younger talent.

Being in a group with Juventus and Bayern Leverkusen will challenge this young squad, but so far Los Rojiblancos are sitting top of La Liga with the only 100% record in Spain. Only time will tell how far they can push this season, but they are in a strong place to push for both the league title and Champions League this season.

7. Bayern Munich

Group: Bayern Munich, Tottenham Hotspur, Olympiacos, Red Star Belgrade

Bayern Munich are one of the constants in the latter stages of the Champions League. Since 2010, the German champions have been in three finals, winning the tournament in 2012, and four semi-finals. Only Real Madrid have a better record in the last ten seasons.

After suffering a 3-1 home defeat to eventual winners Liverpool in the round of 16, Bayern heavily invested on their back four this summer. Spending a combined £100m to bring in World Cup winners Lucas Hernandez and Benjamin Pavard. Whilst also bringing in former £145m man Philippe Coutinho on loan from Barcelona.

There should be no issues for Bayern getting into the knockout rounds of this season’s tournament, with only Tottenham Hotspur looking to pose any sort of threat in this group. A home opener against Red Star will go a long way to setting Niko Kovac’s side on another journey to the late rounds of the Champions League.

6. Juventus

Group: Juventus, Aletico, Bayern Leverkusen, Lokomotiv Moscow

Can Cristiano Ronaldo become only the second player ever to win a Champions League title with three different teams? The 34 year-old would join Clarence Seedorf, who won with Ajax, AC Milan and Real Madrid if Juventus are crowned European champions.

Not only would Ronaldo become one of only two players to win with three teams, he would also be the second player ever to win six European titles, and the first to do it since 1966.

Juventus had a busy transfer window in an attempt to push toward continental success, signing Dutch superstar Matthjis de Ligt  for a fee north of £75m, whilst midfielders Aaron Ramsey and Adrien Rabiot both arrived on free transfers.

Two games against a strong Atletico in the group stage will quickly determine whether the Bianconeri can make a push toward the European crown.

5. Paris Saint Germain

Group: Paris Saint Germain, Real Madrid, Club Brugge, Galatasaray

It’s staggering that PSG haven’t been able to win the Champions League recently considering how lopsided the French league is. The French side have won the league in six of the last seven seasons, winning the 2015/16 title by a ludicrous 31 points.

With Neymar staying in the capital, PSG are in the conversation for the most potent attacking force in world football. Somehow Thomas Tuchel is going to have to make Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, Edison Cavini and Mauro Icardi exist in the same team.

Whether PSG will be able to defend as well as they attack is a different story altogether, and the main reason for their lack of recent success in the Champions League (we all remember that 2017 comeback from Barcelona). For a club of such stature and wealth, PSG haven’t reached a semi-final of a Champions League since 1994-95. A streak they must soon if the Qatari takeover from 2011 isn’t to be deemed a failure. There’s only one club in Europe who have spent as much money as PSG in a failed attempt to win the Champions League, they feature a little later on this list.

4. Real Madrid

Group: Paris Saint Germain, Real Madrid, Club Brugge, Galatasaray

The most successful side in European history, it’s always impossible to discount Real Madrid. After losing to Ajax in the quarter-finals last season and finishing third in La Liga Madrid made Eden Hazard the latest superstar at Madrid following a £90m move from Chelsea.

Hazard wasn’t the only addition of this past summer, Zinedine Zidane also spent a combined £180m on Luka Jovic, Eder Militao, Ferland Mendy and Rodrygo, who fans are hoping will become the next generation of ‘Galacticos’.

Zidane is the only manager in the history of the Champions League to win the trophy at every attempt. Having won three consecutive European crowns before leaving the club in 2017. It would be a truly unprecedented feat if he could make it four from four. 

3. Liverpool 

Group: Liverpool, Napoli, RB Salzburg, Genk

Liverpool are looking to make their third consecutive Champions League final under Jurgen Klopp having won their sixth Champions League in Madrid this June. Having pushed Premier League champions Manchester City so close all season, finishing second on 97 points, it was vital for the club to secure silverware to end what would otherwise have been an incredibly disappointing season.

The club didn’t retool as fans would have hoped in the summer, but did a stellar job of fending off interest for their top stars – Mane was subject to interest from Real Madrid during the transfer window.

Lack of transfer activity hasn’t stopped Liverpool getting off to an electric start to the season, Klopp’s side are currently one of only two teams in the top five leagues with a 100% record, having won their first five league matches. Henderson was also able to lift European silverware for the second time this summer when the Merseyside club beat Chelsea on penalties for the UEFA Super Cup in Istanbul.

Istanbul holds fond memories for Liverpool fans, will they be able to create more when the Champions League final comes back to Turkey?

2. Barcelona

Group: Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund, Inter Milan, Slavia Prague

Barcelona have added two huge stars to what was already a supremely talented squad. Antione Griezmann signed from Atletico for over £100m, whilst Ajax star Frenkie de Jong also arrived for a fee of £67.5m.

The Spanish giants tried everything they could to prise Neymar back from PSG this summer, at one stage offering £90m and any two players from the following: Philippe Coutinho, Ousmane Dembele, Ivan Rakitic, Nelson Semedo and Malcom, yet the French club still said no.

Ernesto Valverde must have thought he was well on his way to his first Champions League final last year when his side were 3-0 up after the first-leg of the semi-final tie with Liverpool. He did however win his second consecutive La Liga title, finishing a comfortable 11 points ahead of nearest challengers Atletico.

The arrival of two huge stars, as well as their continued domestic success means Barcelona and Lionel Messi are the second favoruites for this year’s Champions League trophy. Will Messi be able to win his fifth European crown this season?

1. Manchester City 

Group: Manchester City, Shaktar Donestk, Dynamo Zagreb, Atalanta

Manchester City by far and away have the easiest group of these top sides, which helps bring them to the top of this list as it would be a disaster if the Premier League champions don’t top this group. City spent again this summer, bringing in Joao Cancelo from Juventus and defensive midfielder Rodri from Atletico.

Manchester City have been knocked out by English opposition (and eventual finalists) in back to back seasons, losing 5-1 on aggregate to Liverpool in 2017 and then left reeling as VAR disallowed a match-winner in last year’s quarter-final to Tottenham.

Pep Guardiola has won everything there is to win in England since arriving in 2016, with fans yearning for their first taste of European success. Even with star centre back Aymeric Laporte set to be missing until the new year from top to bottom this is easily the most well-rounded squad in all of European football, which makes Manchester City the early favourites for the European crown.

 

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