With VAR and the Premier League’s officiating that has stollen plenty of headlines over the weekend, some could be forgiven for forgetting that Europe’s elite tournament gets underway on Tuesday night.
Watching Spanish giants Real Madrid stun Liverpool back in May as Los Blancos made more Champions League history, we look set for another thrilling competition this year.
On a list that includes a host of European heavyweights, we have taken a look at who the bookmakers have installed as their early leading contenders.
Manchester City – 5/2
Eventually crumbling in the Spanish capital as they fell to a remarkable 6-5 aggregate defeat against Real Madrid in the semi-finals last season, Manchester City are desperate to finally lift their first European crown.
Likewise, having to watch on 16 months ago as Premier League rivals Chelsea claimed their second Champions League title thanks to a 1-0 victory in Lisbon, a European trophy is all that is missing from their stacked cabinet.
However, while the defending English champions might have been forced to settle for a 1-1
draw away at Aston Villa over the weekend, Pep Guardiola’s men are tipped as a standout
pick by the bookmakers.
Unbeaten in each of their opening six Premier League outings, the former Barcelona boss will be calling on his new attacking icon to spearhead their Champions League charge.
Only continuing on a stunning start to life in England’s top-flight, Norwegian superstar Erling Haaland has already notched 10 domestic strikes and is breaking records by the week.
Opening their Champions League adventure on Tuesday night when they welcome Sevilla to the Etihad, Guardiola’s side will be looking to lay down an early marker.
PSG – 5/1
Although Mauricio Pochettino might have guided PSG to another Ligue 1 title last season, the French heavyweights are getting a new era underway at the Parc des Princes.
While some might have been shocked as ex-Nice boss Christophe Galtier was appointed over the summer, Les Parisiens are in the midst of an eye-catching purple patch.
Picking up a routine 3-0 romp away at Nantes over the weekend and storming their way to the top of France’s top-tier, PSG have quickly gained a reputation for their free-scoring displays in the final third.
On a run that is highlighted by a stellar 7-1 victory against Lille on August 21st, Galtier’s star-studded squad have already notched 24 Ligue 1 strikes since opening the 2022/23 campaign.
In fact, with arguably Europe’s most feared attacking trio, Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi and Neymar have bagged 17 of those 24 domestic goals so far.
While PSG might open this year’s Champions League adventure with a tough showdown against Italian icons Juventus on Tuesday night, Les Parisiens are tipped as another standout pick to claim a first-ever European crown.
Liverpool – 11/2
Left heartbroken back in May as they fell to that 1-0 loss against Real Madrid in Paris, Liverpool felt that they missed out on a golden chance to claim their third Champions League success.
However, while Jurgen Klopp’s men might still be regarded to be a leading pick ahead of this year’s tournament, the former Premier League champions are in the midst of a downbeat start to the 2022/23 campaign.
Having to settle for what was a frustrating 0-0 stalemate away at bitter local rivals Everton on Saturday lunchtime, the ex-Borussia Dortmund boss has seen his side muster just nine points from their opening six domestic appearances.
Struggling to fill the void left by Sadio Mane’s decision to move to Bayern Munich this summer, there are also some concerns over Mohamed Salah’s recent struggles.
A side that is seeking some stability and a much-needed boost, Klopp’s men do face what could be a tricky test in this year’s tournament.
Along with opening their Champions League run on Wednesday night as they make the trip to Italian outfit Napoli, Liverpool are also sharing Group A with both Ajax and Rangers.
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