The Champions League draw is in the books, setting up the group stage for the 2021-22 competition. Groups A and B are stacked with big clubs, while Groups C, F and G seem less difficult to navigate. You can take a look at a breakdown for all the groups here.
Paris Saint-Germain (+300) and Manchester City (+350)
The two favorites got placed in Group A “completely at random”, setting up the possibility for two Lionel Messi vs. Cristiano Ronaldo matches. However, City has pulled out of the sweepstakes for the Portuguese star. Pep Guardiola’s side is still dangerous, but PSG has more talent across the board. This could change if Kylian Mbappe leaves the side for Real Madrid, but for now the French giants are clearly the best side on paper.
The other contenders
Bayern Munich (+750) and Chelsea (+800)
The German powerhouse is no pushover, with veteran superstar Robert Lewandowski leading a dynamic group. Leroy Sane, Serge Gnabry, Alphonso Davies and Dayot Upamecano add youthful talent to the mix, which should come together well under new manager Julian Nagelsmann. This team won’t have to worry about much in the group stage and should see the knockout round easily.
The defending champion Chelsea finds itself in an interesting position in Group H. Juventus is on the downswing, but Zenit St. Petersburg will provide a challenge given the location of the UCL final for this competition. The Blues have been dominant under manager Thomas Tuchel and added star striker Romelu Lukaku before the transfer deadline to bolster their attack. Chelsea should make the knockout round comfortably and be in contention for consecutive titles.
The 2018-19 UCL winner is not quite at the level of Bayern Munich and Chelsea despite similar odds. That has everything to do with being placed in Group B, which is the “group of death” in this competition. Atletico Madrid knocked Liverpool out of the competition in 2019-20 and won La Liga last year. FC Porto is one of the strongest sides in the Primeira Liga and AC Milan is a tough Serie A unit. There’s no easy game for Liverpool in this group and if the forwards don’t click, that could set up an early exit for Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Manchester United (+1200) and Real Madrid (+1400)
United could be adding Ronaldo after City withdrew its offer for the star, changing these odds significantly. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side has a relatively easy path to the knockout stage given the talent on the pitch. A motivated Paul Pogba would give Man United one of the top attacks in the competition. This side will be a dangerous unit in the knockout round, especially if Ronaldo gets added to the roster.
Real Madrid had trouble with Shaktar Donetsk in UCL 2020-21, but was able to advance out of the group stage comfortably. Karim Benzema, Eden Hazard and Gareth Bale headline a strong squad which could get stronger if Mbappe does make his move in the coming days. Los Blancos have a relatively easy group, so making the knockout stage won’t be a problem. Can Real Madrid’s defense carry it to the final? The talent is certainly there, but will the matchups line up in Madrid’s favor?
Best bet to win league: Bayern Munich (+750)
The two favorites are better than the German side, but neither has won the Champions League. Bayern has been in four finals since 2009-10, winning two of them. Lewandowski is the best striker in the world and has plenty of talented players surrounding him. Nagelsmann is one of the best managers in soccer. Everything adds up to Bayern having a great chance to once again lift Europe’s top club trophy. Given the value relative to the favorites, Bayern is the best bet to win. Mbappe and Ronaldo transferring could make Real Madrid and Manchester United popular picks, but Bayern’s consistency is worth betting on at these odds.
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