The champions from last season in the main leagues in Germany, Spain, Italy and France are again favourites and the four team accumulator pays 11/2. Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain are also prominent in betting for the Champions League and its about even money that the champions of Europe will be one of these sides.
The English Premier League looks the most competitive of the major European leagues this season as three sides are potential champions. Qualifying for the Champions League looks open with three sides in contention for the lucrative fourth spot. Several other sides are looking to build on decent seasons to challenge for qualification into the Europa League.
Bayern Munich are the shorted priced of the quartet and its just 1/4 that they win the Bundesliga again. They were a massive 25 points ahead of Borussia Dortmund at the end of last season. The relative strength of each side has moved in favour of Munich with the signing of Mario Goetze from their main rivals.
Munich were worthy winners of the Champions League last season and look a team to follow over the next few years in the competition. However, if Dortmund are to challenge their compatriots at home and abroad this season could provide the best opportunity for a number of years. Their leading striker Robert Lewandowski has signed an agreement to join Munich for next season.
The German champions were awesome in the Champions League last season, especially in beating Barcelona 7-0 on aggregate in the semi-final. Lionel Messi was not fully fit for the tie so the Spanish side were weakened. Even so Munich had so much in hand that even the best player in the world at his peak would not have significantly affected the outcome.
No European side has won the World Cup in South America. Germany could break that trend as the nucleus of their national side is made up of the best players from Munich and Dortmund. Munich have also strengthened off the field with the arrival of Pep Guardiola, one of the most sought after coaches in world football.
Guardiola was the most successful coach in Barcelona’s history but the current manager may struggle to maintain such high standards. Tito Vilanova resigned during the summer due to illness and Gerardo Martino will be tested by one of the most demanding jobs in football. However, any side that has Messi as it’s talisman will outscore most opponents.
Many pundits are predicting that Real Madrid will win the league in Spain. In Carlo Ancelotti they have a vastly experienced coach who has been successful at the highest level. The club seemed to stagnate under Jose Mourinho who alienated some of their most experienced players, such as goalkeeper Iker Casillas.
Madrid will always be stronger for the contribution of Cristiano Ronaldo, who has a rare record of scoring almost a goal a game. There is still paper talk of a possible move back to Manchester United but if he stays and Luka Modric continues to impress in midfield Madrid will be hard to overhaul at the top of the table.
Barcelona have invested almost 50 million pounds in Neymar, the 21 year old Brazilian with the responsibility to score the goals for his country in the 2014 World Cup. He showed at the Confederations Cup that he has the ability and temperament to handle the expectations but he has a massive role at Barcelona before embarking on his huge task next summer.
Cesc Fabregas looks like spending another season at least with Barcelona. Manchester United have been pursuing the player but the latest story through the media is that he has no desire to leave the club where he first signed as a professional. However, some of the stalwarts are reaching the end of their careers and Madrid look stronger, though the title could be decided by results in the El Classico fixtures.
Juventus were nine points ahead of their nearest rivals in Italy last season and they are marginally odds-on to defend the title. Juventus are known as ‘The Old Lady’ in Italian football and are the most popular team in the country. They are financed by major corporations and traditionally have more money to spend than other teams in Italy.
The Turin side is the most successful in Italian football with a tally of 54 domestic honours. Their 29 Serie A titles include title wining years in the last two seasons. In the 2011-12 season they were unbeaten and although they couldn’t maintain that level last season they finished nine points ahead of Napoli, and had the best defensive record in the league.
Juventus conceded 24 goals in 38 league matches last season. Behind a solid unit is one of the best goalkeepers in the world, Gianluigi Buffon. He is still Italy’s first choice at the age of 35 as is Andrea Pirlo, who showed his ability in the 2012 European Championships, especially against England in the quarter-finals.
Paris Saint-Germain are also odds on to win the league in France again this season. They finished 12 points ahead Marseille and look even stronger this season, thanks to the spending power of their wealthy owners. There chances have also been enhanced by potential cashflow problems for Monaco. The advantageous tax status due to their location could be seriously affected by changes to tax laws in France.
In 2011 Qatar Investment Authority became the majority shareholder of PSG. They are now the richest club in France and one of the richest in the world. There is usually a direct relationship between domestic success and wealth. Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus are the richest clubs in their respective countries and currently the most successful.
One of the major investments by the new owners of the Paris club was the purchase of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He is one of the best strikers in the world and demonstrated a full range of skills when scoring four times against England last year. His tally included arguably the greatest goal ever scored when he acrobatically beat Joe Hart with an outrageous overhead kick from outside the penalty area.
The four current champions in Germany, Spain, Italy and France are clear favourites to defend their titles and there will be fewer better 11/2 bets than for them to oblige by again becoming champions next spring.