We are getting into the business end of the Champions League, with the remaining four round of 16 first leg matches about to take place. Unsurprisingly, there are some of the best teams in Europe remaining and we take a look at the best of the best still in the competition.
Paris Saint Germain – 9/1
Paris Saint-Germain are a side who, on paper, should be challenging for the Champions League far more seriously and far more consistently than they have been. They have a trove of talented players and access to deep-pocketed investors, but have had some awful European campaigns regardless.
Since a €1bn Qatari injection, they haven’t made it past the quarter-final stage and actually been eliminated at the first knockout round in the last three consecutive seasons. This, however, could be their time. They impressed no-end when inflicting a convincing 3-0 defeat over Real Madrid in their tournament opener. Thomas Tuchel’s summer signing Idrissa Gueye has brought a breath of fresh air into the core of the team and will be instrumental in the outcome of their Champions League quest.
Barcelona – 7/1
While PSG came out all guns blazing in their first match, fellow footballing giants Barcelona looked laboured against Borussia Dortmund and it did not go unnoticed. Ernesto Valverde failed to deliver on the European front and now it’s up to Quique Setien to lead the Blaugrana to their first Champions League success since they claimed their fifth title in 2015.
Since then they’ve suffered some embarrassing exits, including last season against Liverpool, but you cannot fault their grit and perseverance. Their character is to be commended and it’s that determination (along with a team jam-packed with world class players, of course) that will stand them in good stead this year. The Champions League is their priority once again this year and it would take a brave person to write them off.
Liverpool – 6/1
They went all the way last year and Liverpool have proved this season that it was no fluke. They have been almost faultless in the league, claimed the FIFA Club World Cup and are still in the running for the FA Cup, meaning they could have the most successful season of any English team ever.
They have shown that they can compete in across multiple competitions and do so convincingly. Jurgen Klopp’s men go into the second leg with Atletico Madrid on the back foot after losing 1-0 in Spain but Liverpool have never lost a two-leg tie under the German’s leadership.
Bayern Munich – 6/1
Bayern Munich are currently second-favourites to lift the cup this year and are always a side to be taken seriously. Only last year they put seven goals past Tottenham Hotspur on the road when recording a 7-2 scoreline in London. Robert Lewandowski scored two that night and he is a lethal weapon who is arguably still the best No.9 in Europe. It’s little wonder that he heads the betting to end the campaign as the tournament’s top-scorer at 7/20.
Then factor in Bayern’s magic midfield combination of Philippe Coutinho and Thiago. Take that night in the English capital, for example. Coutinho played the whole game after recording goals in the two previous Bundesliga matchdays and defended, assisted and created. Not to mention tormented the Spurs backline in what was a dark day for the eventual finalists.
Manchester City – 4/1
Leading the way in the betting for the top contender spot is Manchester City. Winning the Premier League has been off the table for some time now thanks to the Reds stellar season but Pep Guardiola’s men are all about the cups this year. They will be competing in the League Cup final this weekend and are still in the running for the FA Cup.
They have a round of 16 clash against Real Madrid who were knocked out at this stage last year. Besides, the Spanish giants are as long as 12/1 to go all the way. City have kept their chins up since learning of their Champions League ban, meaning this campaign is all the more important and we could see a fiercely determined side line up at the Bernabeu on Thursday.
Check out all our Champions League odds here.