Profiling the favourites for the Champions League

Champions League

The knockouts of the UEFA Champions League are underway. Millions of fans eagerly await the battles of the world’s leading clubs. The best clubs on the continent – from unexpected outsiders to record-breakers and reigning champions – will compete for the 2023/24 UEFA Champions League Cup for the last time in the usual format. From next year, the tournament will be held under new rules for the first time.

We present the top squads of the 2024 Champions League, predictions for the tournament’s outcome, and discuss the odds. Here are the top 5 favorites for the Champions League title:

Manchester City

  • Best performance – winner of the Champions League 2023
  • Leaders and stars – Haaland, Foden, Walker, Bruyne

The English club is the reigning trophy winner and world champion. Man City won all 6 matches and scored the most goals of any team at this stage (18 goals). Pep Guardiola’s team is the favorite to win it according to the football betting. If they do retain in, City will become only the second team in recent history to defend the title. Before that, only Real Madrid under Zinedine Zidane pulled it off.

Despite winning 6 out of 6 in the group stage, Manchester City started the season slowly but they are now accelerating. In the EPL, the club is in second place and is a few points behind Liverpool. Injuries to the team’s leaders can easily explain the uncharacteristic results: the club’s most creative player, Kevin De Bruyne, has been out since August, while top scorer Erling Haaland has been recovering all of December. Now, both are back in the squad and ready to help the team.

Bayern Munich

  • Best result – 6-time winner of the Champions League (last time in 2020)
  • Leaders and stars – Kane, Kimmich, Sane

The club management sensationally fired coach Julian Nagelsmann in the second half of last season and replaced him with Thomas Tuchel. The team started losing and became the German champion only in the final match. This season, the failures continue – Bayern lost the game for the Super Cup, fell out of the German Cup and fell behind the league-leading Bayer. The Champions League title win is one of the club’s main goals this season.

Despite all the problems in the Bundesliga, Bayern is performing almost flawlessly in the Champions League – the Munich side has picked up 16 points and has only shared the points once, drawing with Copenhagen after an early playoff exit. The German champion also renewed the tournament record, extending his streak without defeat in the group stage to 40 matches.

Real Madrid

  • Best result – 14-time winner of the Champions League (last time in 2022)
  • Leaders and stars – Vinicius, Rodrigo, Bellingham

Real Madrid is the leader in the number of Champions League victories. The Spanish club has won the trophy 14 times, twice as many as second-placed AC Milan. There is no doubt that in this drawing the team will try to take the 15th anniversary trophy. Real seeks to win every match and can turn even hopeless games. It is one of the merits of Carlo Ancelotti – a coach specializing in knockout tournaments.

At the start of the season, three of Real Madrid’s leading players suffered cruciate ligament ruptures. It is one of the most unpleasant injuries in football – not only because of the pain but also because of the recovery period, which usually takes six months or more. After a series of failures, many fans stopped considering the club as favorites, but Real Madrid proved that they could adapt and achieve results even without leaders.

PSG

  • The best result – finalist of the 2020 LC-2020
  • Leaders and stars – Mbappe, Hakimi, Marquinhos

PSG still survived the group of death but found themselves in the playoffs almost by miracle – the Parisians finished 2nd. They did not leave the tournament only thanks to Milan’s victory over Newcastle in the last group fixture. The defensive play in Dortmund even provoked a conflict between Luis Enrique and Kylian Mbappe, who expressed his disappointment with the Spanish coach’s tactics. Nevertheless, the draw results lifted the capital club into the top 5 favorites of the tournament – a modest Sociedad awaits in the 1/8 finals.

PSG has a young squad, which, for a long time, could not adapt to the attacking style of coach Luis Enrique. By the middle of the season, the team had picked up momentum and beat opponents with a crushing score. The Champions League is a more severe tournament than Ligue 1. But after an uncertain start, the club has all the data to surprise their fans pleasantly.

Arsenal

  • Best result – 2006 Champions League finalist
  • Leaders and stars – Saka, Odegaard, Rice

Arsenal have clearly missed playing in the Champions League – the Londoners last appeared here 6 years ago. Spending more than £100 million on Declan Rice, the biggest purchase in the club’s history, has paid off – the Gunners qualified for the playoffs by winning Group B with confidence. The opponent in the 1/8 finals, Porto, looks a relatively simple task.

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