Mohamed Salah’s 2nd minute penalty in Madrid seems like an eternity ago, with a few months of dwindling football opportunities stretching the days into weeks. That penalty was to be the deciding goal in an anticlimactic Champions League Final, stealing the prize away from Tottenham and allowing Jurgen Klopp to get his hands on the most coveted prize in domestic football.
After narrowly missing out on their first ever Premier League trophy just a couple of weeks before, this will have gone a long way to lifting spirits in the Anfield camp. However, retaining the Champions League trophy is a notoriously difficult task – One managed only by the Zinedine Zidane led Real Madrid in 2017.
Zidane followed this remarkable achievement by claiming a 3rd successive Champions League crown, and now the Frenchman is back in the hot seat at the Bernabeu, albeit without the talismanic Cristiano Ronaldo at his disposal.
Qualification to the Champions League proper is still ongoing, but who are our early value picks for the competition?
Keep up to date with all the latest Champions League predictions, betting tips, and news here.
Liverpool to Win the Champions League at 7/1
Yes, retaining this trophy is difficult, but if any club can do it right now it’s Liverpool. The most successful English team in Europe, they have now lifted Europe’s top prize 6 times. This includes retaining the European Cup back in 1978, and their appearance in Madrid back in June was their 2nd consecutive Champions League Final.
Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp know what it takes to succeed on the continent. Klopp took Borussia Dortmund to the final against all the odds in 2013, and has since taken Liverpool to 3 continental finals in under 4 full seasons in charge.
The squad may not have the depth to challenge Manchester City for the Premier League again, but their first team squad is one of the best in the world. Their tactics are set up perfectly for cup competitions, and their incredible record at Anfield makes them favourites in pretty much every two-legged fixture out there. They have lost just 2 competitive games at Anfield in the last 2 years, and their last European defeat on home soil came all the way back in 2014, so backing them to retain the title doesn’t look so optimistic after all.
Click here for our detailed Premier League Team Focus on Liverpool.
Barcelona to Win the Champions League at 11/2
Barcelona’s 3-0 victory over Liverpool at the Camp Nou in May looked set to carry them to their first Champions League Final since 2015, but anybody who had watched them the season before knew better than to count their chickens too soon. They threw away a comfortable lead against AS Roma in 2017/18, and they did so again at Anfield in May.
A 4-0 thrashing to Liverpool forced the Catalan giants to take a long, hard look at themselves. They may have strolled to the La Liga title, but such failures in Europe will not go unpunished in the Camp Nou.
Ernesto Valverde’s title success allowed him to stay in the job, and they’ve made moves to further improve their squad over the summer. Long time target Antoine Griezmann has finally made the switch from Atletico Madrid, while Ajax’s prodigious midfielder Frenkie de Jong arrives to fill the still-empty boots of midfield greats of the past.
They may have bottled it in the last 2 years, but you can’t ignore the talent of Lionel Messi and company. They thrashed Lyon, Manchester United, and Liverpool at the Camp Nou in the knockout stages last season and Roma and Chelsea the season before. If they can just improve their away form, they look to be one of the frontrunners for the competition. Not to mention the fact that in Messi, Suarez, and Griezmann they have potentially the best attacking triumvirate in world football.
Atletico Madrid to Win the Champions League at 25/1
Atletico Madrid were the closest challengers to Barcelona in La Liga last season, finishing as runners up and 8 points ahead of a dreadfully underperforming Real Madrid, much to the fan’s delight.
The summer has seem something of an upheaval at the Wanda Metropolitano, and while the loss of Griezmann will sting it’s far from only bad news in Madrid. They have spent upwards of £100m on teenage wonderkid Joao Felix to replace Griezmann, also bringing in Marcos Llorente, Mario Hermoso, and Kieran Trippier to strengthen midfield and defence.
Diego Simeone’s foray into the Champions League ended somewhat prematurely last season as a Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick in Turin overturned their 2-0 home advantage, but prior to that they were looking strong. They finished on 13 points in a difficult group, second to Borussia Dortmund on goal difference, and performed well at home against the Serie A giants.
Simeone is a master at setting up for two-legged ties, and he will be keen to improve on his runners-up finishes in 2014 and 2016. At 25/1 eachway, they look a good value longshot offering.
Borussia Dortmund to Win the Champions League at 33/1
Jurgen Klopp led Borussia Dortmund in something of a golden age earlier this decade, with Borussia Dortmund claiming 2 Bundesliga titles from Bayern Munich and making it to the final of the 2012/13 Champions League. They were beaten by their arch rivals in that competition, but Die Borussen are on the rise again, led by the excellent Lucian Favre.
Favre guided Dortmund to a runners up medal in the Bundesliga last season, with the 2 point gap between them and Bayern Munich being the closest they have gotten to the title in years. They enjoyed an excellent Champions League group stage campaign in Favre’s first season in charge, but didn’t turn up as they were beaten by eventual finalists Spurs in the knockout rounds.
Dortmund have made some shrewd signings during the summer though, bringing in old favourite Mats Hummels along with Thorgan Hazard, Nico Schulz, Julian Brandt, as well as signing Paco Alcacer on a permanent basis.
Most importantly, they have kept hold of Marco Reus and Jadon Sancho. Reus, Sancho, and Alcacer scored 53 competitive goals between them last season. Favre has strengthened the squad in key areas and had an incredibly impressive debut campaign, so they look very generously priced at 33/1 eachway.
Wondering when our Bundesliga outrights will be released? Check our Season Outright Betting Tips Schedule here.