The Champions League sees the best football clubs across Europe competing for the continent’s top prize. This season’s Champions League promises to be just as exciting as ever, with some of the most successful teams in the world taking part.
The Final of the competition is set to take place at the end of May 2022. But before that point, there are a string of big games to take in.
The Group Stages
The matches are currently mid-way through the group stage, with only three games left.
Favourites including Paris Saint-German, Liverpool and Juventus have made impressive unbeaten starts.
Some shocks have also already taken place, as the standing of AC Milan at the bottom of shows. The Italians recently lost at Porto, leaving their hopes for qualification from the group in disarray.
The top two clubs from each of the eight groups will progress to the next stage which starts in February 2022. That will see the remaining 16 teams fight it out in a knock-out competition.
Football fans in the UK often make wagers on Champions League games and especially the final. Some fans will keep an eye out at group stage results and place early bets on their chosen winner to receive some of the best odds. New sportsbooks will also offer some of the best promotions to punters who place early bets on major tournaments like the Champions League.
Teams on Form
Current odds for Paris Saint Germain are looking particularly strong, with many punters putting money on them going far in the competition.
The French club has never won the Champions League, but since bolstering their squad with the likes of Lionel Messi they are looking strong contenders. PSG actually made the final in 2019-20, but lost out to Bayern Munich.
Chelsea are the current reigning champions and are looking strong, despite one defeat in Turin against Juventus.
The London side has recorded two home wins against Malmo and Zenit, but will need to get something in the away games to strengthen their case. Chelsea were at their best in the recent 4-0 home win against Malmo. The team played with an exhilarating flair and proved far too strong for the Swedes, who looked on in awe for most of the match.
If Chelsea can keep up this fluid sort of movement and skill, they look likely to progress alongside Juventus, who have had a 100% start so far.
Another team never far from the limelight is Manchester City. The British side were runners up to Chelsea last year and will be looking to go one better this year. Many fans will be expecting nothing less than the best from Pep Guardiola’s side.
Manchester City have boosted their chances with the signing of the much-praised striker Jack Grealish. It could well be that this is the year City will be holding the Champions League trophy for the first time.
Bayern Munich, the winners from 2020, will also be a strong presence in the remaining fixtures. The German club are always challenging opposition. The fact that they still have the goal-scoring threat of Robert Lewandowski make them a real possibility for the later stages.
The culmination of the group stages has some intriguing fixtures which will determine who will reach the last 16.
One of these encounters is sure to be Manchester United’s visit to Villareal in the fifth of the six group games. Man United are currently first their group after two wins and a loss. The group is particularly tight at the moment with all four teams in with a chance of qualifying.
Villareal are level-pegging with Atalanta on four points, making every next game supremely important. The underdogs of the group, Young Boys have three points and cannot be unduly discounted.
Young Boys’ first-round surprise win against Manchester United saw the English team losing 2-1 at the stadium of the Swiss club. The English club rebounded from that with home wins against Villareal and Atalanta. They will be looking to gain revenge over the Swiss side, while also looking forward to trips to Spain and Italy.
The fate of Barcelona also hangs in the balance of the last three matches. The Spanish side has so far recorded one win and two losses. After losing star player Lionel Messi to PSG in the close season, the side has struggled both in La Liga and the Champions League.
The first game of the group stages saw a resounding 3-0 loss to Bayern Munich, while the next encounter was another 3-0 defeat, this time against Benfica.
Many fans will be looking to the Catalans to show the impressive strength and skill that they are known for. A 1-0 victory over Dynamo Kyiv helped to restore some confidence, but Barca are still a long way off from the dominant position they were in a few years ago.
A return match against Bayern in the last set of fixtures in the group stage leaves open the possibility that the Catalans will be playing to stay in the competition.
A Feast of Football
The Champions League is always the place for fans to see the best in European football.
This year looks set to be better than ever. While there are teams that look stronger than others, the ultimate result is never a given.
The road to the final in St Petersburg in May is a long one – there are sure to be more surprises along the way.