The top of the UEFA Champions League regularly sees teams like Barcelona and Real Madrid fighting it out to determine who the best team in Europe is. But this year, the side that could emerge and take the trophy is Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. With so much going for them heading into the 2018/2019 Champions League campaign, it is worth wondering if it is finally City’s time to win Europe’s top prize.
The Champions League is Manchester City’s to Lose
Perhaps the biggest reason that the Cityzens feel like they have a better chance to win this year’s Champions League is the fact that so many changes are happening to other elite European clubs. Real Madrid, the standard bearers in the competition in recent years, lost Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus and saw the incredibly successful Zinedine Zidane leave his post as manager. And while Juve have Ronaldo now, they also lost keeper Gianluigi Buffon to Paris Saint-Germain, and are stuck with Wojciech Sczezney as their keeper for now.
PSG also had a managerial change this year, with Unai Emery leaving the club to take over at Arsenal. Meanwhile, Bayern Munich and Barcelona have both looked old in certain spots on the field, and feel like they lack the energy to be able to sustain success in both their domestic leagues and the Champions League for an entire season.
Then there is City, who only added talent to a team that won 100 points in the Premier League last season and looked dominant all year despite losing in the Champions League quarter-finals to Liverpool. And even though players like Kevin De Bruyne say that they don’t need to win the Champions League to be successful, that missing accolade will feel especially glaring if they can’t win it as one of the favourites to do so.
Looking at Champions League betting odds, City are priced up as 5/1 favourites to win the competition. With so many good players on the field at a given time, it would be difficult to field a better team this year, with Guardiola’s talent as a manager only widening the gap between City and their competition. Failing to deliver despite being a betting favourite on a regular basis in the Champions League would look bad for both City and the Premier League as a whole.
This is especially true in the group stage, where City’s status as a Pot 1 team thanks to their league title should set them up for an easy path to the knockout stages. Even if they draw teams like Monaco and Napoli, City should still be able to beat them en route to the next round, with probability saying that they won’t draw every team from highly rated countries anyway.
On the field, it is going to be hard to find a team with the talent and the depth that Manchester City has this year. But, as they say, the games are not played on paper and City will have to earn every inch of their progress down the road to the Champions League Final if they are to get there.