Club football’s biggest competition is back this week as the Champions League makes its return with the start of the group stages, the continent’s finest sides beginning the annual quest to be crowned champions of Europe.
Bayern Munich lifted the famous old trophy for a sixth time last season and are rightfully regarded amongst the favourites to make it back-to-back successes this time around, though the German giants will face strong competition from a host of leading clubs.
Each of the Premier League’s four representative sides will have ambitions of going deep into the tournament and reaching its latter stages, and ahead of this week’s action we’ve decided to look at how the bookmaker’s assess the chances of the trophy heading to England.
So for those of you who interested in the best betting sites, here is how the bookies rate each Premier League side’s chance of Champions League success during the 2020/21 season:
Manchester United – 25/1
Manchester United make their return to the Champions League this season following a one-year absence, a strong second half to the campaign ensuring a third-placed finish in the Premier League and a place amongst Europe’s elite.
The fortunes of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side improved hugely following the winter window signing of Bruno Fernandes from Sporting Lisbon, though there remains huge areas of concern for the Red Devils who have endured a disappointing start to the campaign.
Frustrations regarding the club’s transfer business have only intensified following some dismal displays in the opening weeks of the campaign, humbling home defeats to Crystal Palace and Tottenham exposing their defensive deficiencies.
Solskjaer’s squad lacks depth beyond the first XI and there are huge doubts over his centre-back options, club captain Harry Maguire having notably struggled in the early weeks of the season following his summer arrest in Greece.
United do possess talent and the likes of Fernandes and Marcus Rashford can trouble any side when at their very best, but few are expecting the Red Devils to challenge and their status as outsiders is reflected by odds of 25/1 – the largest of any of the four Premier League sides.
United face two of last season’s last four in Group H and begin with a trip to runners-up Paris Saint-Germain in their opening fixture, before a clash against semi-finalists RB Leipzig and a tricky-looking trip to Istanbul Başakşehir, their progress to the knockout stages looking far from a formality.
Chelsea – 20/1
Ranked at slightly shorter odds than Manchester United are big-spending Chelsea, who have spent lavishly this summer in a bid to restore themselves as challengers both at home and in Europe.
Chelsea were convincingly beaten by eventual champions Bayern in last season’s last-16, but will come into this season’s competition with increased optimism following the exciting signings of players such as Kai Havertz, Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech.
Frank Lampard’s side have begun the new season indifferently, however, and their lack of major investment in key defensive areas looks like an oversight to date, the arrival of the unheralded Edouard Mendy in goal and free transfer signing of an ageing Thiago Silva paling in comparison to their expensive attacking imports.
Question marks remain over their defensive strength with none of their centre-back options convincing at present, whilst it is likely to take time for the Blues’ new-look side to gel following a host of arrivals.
However, the west London side will be confident of reaching the knockout stages after being handed arguably the most straightforward group in the draw, facing off against Europa League winners Sevilla and group stage debutants in Krasnodar and Rennes.
Chelsea should have little difficulty in reaching the next stage, but few will be expecting Lampard’s side to go deep into the competition.
Liverpool – 11/2
The reigning Premier League champions are rated at odds of 11/2 and as the third favourites to lift the trophy by the bookmakers, a reflection on their success under Jurgen Klopp over the past two seasons.
Liverpool were crowned as champions of Europe two years ago before following that triumph with a long-awaited league title success, and look well positioned for another tilt at club football’s biggest prize this term.
The Reds face Ajax, Atalanta and Midtyjlland in Group D and whilst presented with some difficult encounters, Liverpool will be expected to progress given their pedigree in this competition, reaching two finals in the past three seasons.
Klopp’s side are well-balanced and have improved their squad with the signings of Diogo Jota and Thiago Alcantara, the latter having lifted the trophy with Bayern last season and expected to provide some much-needed guile to a workman-like midfield.
Doubts persist over replacements for both Alisson and Virgil van Dijk, however, with both players currently sidelined, the latter expected to miss a significant period after sustaining a serious-looking knee injury in the weekend’s Merseyside derby draw at Everton.
Manchester City – 4/1
Manchester City are regarded as the joint-favourites to win the Champions League this season, despite their disappointing record in this competition in recent years.
Pep Guardiola has brought a wealth of success to the Etihad since his arrival in English football four years ago, but the prize both he and the club truly crave is undoubtedly the Champions League.
City have a deep and talented squad capable of challenging the very best sides in Europe, and will hope the summer signings of Nathan Ake and Ruben Dias can help shore up a defence that has capitulated on the European stage in past campaigns.
The conceding of goals in costly clusters has wrecked their chances of reaching the latter stages during disappointing exits to Monaco, Liverpool, Tottenham and Lyon since Guardiola’s arrival and hopes will be high that the Spaniard has learned his lessons from those defeats.
A group containing Porto, Olympiakos and Marseille should pose little problems for City as they welcome the former to Manchester in midweek, a fixture their supporters will hope is the first of a run to Champions League success.