UEFA Champions League Betting Guide

by | Sep 17, 2018 | Soccer Betting Previews

UEFA Champions League Preview

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UEFA Champions League

 

The upcoming main phase of the 2018-19 UEFA Champions League will be the 64th season of Europe's premier club soccer tournament organized by UEFA (Union of European Football Associations), and the 27th edition since it was renamed from the European Champion Clubs' Cup to the UEFA Champions League in 1992.

What is actually the UEFA Champions League?

The UEFA Champions League is an annual continental club soccer competition which is organized by UEFA and contested by top-division European clubs. It is admittedly one of the most prestigious tournaments worldwide and the most prestigious club competition in European football. Furthermore, the UEFA Champions League final is the most watched annual sporting event in the world.

Introduced in 1992, the competition replaced the European Champion Clubs' Cup, which had run since 1955, adding a group stage to the competition and allowing multiple entrants from certain countries.

In its present format, the UEFA Champions League begins in late June with four knockout qualifying rounds and playoffs. The six (6) surviving teams enter the group stage, joining 26 teams qualified in advance. The 32 teams are drawn into eight groups of four teams and play each other in a double round-robin system.

All eight (8) group winners and eight (8) runners-up proceed to the knockout phase that culminates with the final match. This season's UEFA Champions League final is scheduled to take place on 1 June 2019 at the “Wanda Metropolitano” in the Spanish capital Madrid.

Which are the most successful teams in the competition?

Real Madrid is the most successful club in the competition's history, having won the tournament 13 times, including its first five seasons. Los Blancos are also the reigning champions, having won the title for three successive seasons in 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18.

Other notable winners are the teams of AC Milan (7 titles), Bayern Munich, Liverpool, Barcelona (5 titles each), Ajax (4 titles), Manchester United, Inter Milan (both with 3 titles), Juventus, Benfica, Porto and Nottingham Forest (all of them with 2 titles). It's interesting to note that the 1991 winners Crvena Zvezda Belgrade have qualified for the 2018-19 UEFA Champions League group stage for the first time in the club's history since the tournament was rebranded.

 

Group A: In Group A we find teams like Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, AS Monaco and Club Brugge.

Atletico Madrid – To Win The Champions League +1200 / To Win Group A -190

The 2017-18 Europa League winners, Atletico Madrid, are logically favorites to top the standings here and also one of the teams having relatively reasonable chances to win the competition, especially when the 2019 Champions League final is set to take place at their home ground – “Wanda Metropolitano”. Los Colchoneros have recently won the 2018 UEFA Super Cup, beating their Madrid rivals Real 4-2 after extra time, which saw them winning the Super Cup for the third time.

Diego Simeone kept the core of the team for another year with the likes of Jan Oblak, captain Diego Godin, Koke, Saul, Diego Costa, as well as the two 2018 World Cup champions Lucas Hernandez and Antoine Griezmann all being important first-team players. Furthermore, El Cholo made some impressive summer signings by adding players like Santiago Arias, Rodri, Gelson Martins, Nikola Kalinic and the World Cup winner Thomas Lemar.

Borussia Dortmund – To Win The Champions League +8000 / To Win Group A +275

After a terrible Champions League performance last year (winning just two points in six games), the good old Borussia Dortmund shouldn't be underestimated as the new season gets underway. The Black and Yellows will be keen to improve under new coach Lucien Favre and this definitely includes ambitions for one of the top two positions in Group A. Plus, they have some old scores to settle with another contender – AS Monaco – who have eliminated Dortmund in the 2016-17 quarter-finals.

After the departure of players like Sokratis, Nuri Sahin, Gonzalo Castro, Andriy Yarmolenko and Andre Schurrle, Lucien Favre has shown his intention to refresh and strengthen the squad with the arrival of players like Abdou Diallo, Axel Witsel, Thomas Delaney, Marius Wolf and Paco Alcacer. Their presence should make Borussia Dortmund more competitive and we will not exaggerate if we say that the Germans have the potential to challenge Atleti for the first position.

AS Monaco – To Win Group A +550 / To Advance +145

The Monegasques have lost some of their first-team players in the past transfer window. Nevertheless, with the received millions for players like Rachid Ghezzal, Terence Kongolo, Fabinho, Thomas Lemar and Kylian Mbappe, the French Ligue 1 runners-up could afford to bring in some new faces. Thus, they still have enough quality and with a manager like Leonardo Jardim on the touchline, AS Monaco have their chance to put the favorites (Atletico Madrid and Borussia Dortmund) under serious pressure.

Just like Dortmund, AS Monaco have won only two points during last season's group stage, so Leonardo Jardim's men will hope to repeat their success from two years ago when The Red and Whites have made it out of the groups and even reached the semi-finals.

Club Brugge – To Win Group A +4000 / To Advance +800

The champions of Belgium were surely hoping for a better draw so it's more likely to believe that Club Brugge will strive to slip some of the big names. Being inspired by five wins and a draw in the opening six domestic league games, Club Brugge will try to achieve their first group stage victory since 2005, when they won 3-2 against Rapid Vienna.

The Blauw-Zwart (Blue-Black) have won the Belgian Championship for the second time in the last three years and this inevitably adds to their confidence. Coach Ivan Leko surely realizes that his team can hardly compete with the other three in the group, which doesn't mean that Club Brugge won't be glad to spoil the plans of them.

 

Group B: Group B promises some thrilling moments for the soccer lovers with the teams of Barcelona, Tottenham Hotspur, PSV Eindhoven and Inter Milan all competing for the top two spots.

Barcelona – To Win The Champions League +565 / To Win Group B -215

Barcelona aims to triumph in the Champions League for the first time since 2015 and the La Liga champions are usually one of the main favorites to win the trophy. Lionel Messi has already pledged that Barcelona will give their best effort to bring Champions League glory back to the Camp Nou. Messi's willingness and such a firm statement simply can't be underestimated and they may inspire many bettors to look for extra value when betting on Barcelona.

Tottenham Hotspur – To Win The Champions League +2750 / To Win Group B +300

Tottenham Hotspur will hope to finish its new stadium in time to host at least one, if not two, of its group stage games. In the meantime, bookies are backing Spurs to finish second in Group B, but we shouldn't forget that Mauricio Pochettino's men have won their Champions League group last season, without losing a single match in it, and they were alongside the likes of Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund.

Inter Milan – To Win The Champions League +10000 / To Win Group B + 600 / To Advance +130

Inter Milan returns in Europe's premium competition after more than six years of waiting. Internazionale finished fourth in the last Serie A season and the three-time Champions League winners will try to spoil the aspirations of either Barcelona, Tottenham or why not even PSV?

The Nerazzurri have managed to keep top scorer Mauro Icardi in their lines and have also increased their squad depth on a few other positions. This will surely help to Luciano Spalletti's game plan and he will have to squeeze the best out of his men if he really wants to send Inter to the knockout stage.

PSV Eindhoven – To Win Group B + 3500 / To Advance +650

PSV Eindhoven seems to be the underdog here but the Dutch Eredivisie champions won't mind to cause an upset. Mark van Bommel's men had to reach the groups through qualifying and will kick-off their group play with a visit to Barcelona. The next two games on their schedule are at home where positive results against Inter and Tottenham may boost PSV Eindhoven's confidence in the remaining rounds.

 

Group C: Group C is another source of additional excitement in this year's Champions League group stage. Some may even name it “the group of death”. Last season's runners-up Liverpool were those drawn out of Pot 3 and their new path seems to be really thorny as they have enemies like Paris Saint-Germain, Napoli and Crvena Zvezda next to them.

Paris Saint-Germain – To Win The Champions League + 725 / To Win Group C -110

Paris Saint-Germain have already made a few unsuccessful attempts to conquer the peak of Europe's most prestigious soccer league which eventually led to another managerial rotation. Thomas Tuchel is the new guy who must try to unite the PSG superstars and the German is surely pleased to have an opportunity to work with the likes of Gianluigi Buffon, Dani Alves, Thomas Meunier, Thiago Silva, Marco Verratti, Adrien Rabiot, Angel Di Maria, Edinson Cavani, Kylian Mbappe, and Neymar.

That is unquestionably the biggest challenge in Thomas Tuchel's career so far and an ambitious personality as the club's chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi will demand results on the continental scene. Will Tuchel handle the pressure on him? It's yet to be seen but PSG are considered as one of the major favorites to end Real Madrid's Champions League hegemony.

Napoli – To Win The Champions League +8500 / To Win Group C +550 / To Advance +120

Napoli are one of the sides that have shown to be capable of causing some surprising or not really surprising results for the past decade. However, the Naples club will most likely find itself in a period of transformation since Carlo Ancelotti replaced Maurizio Sarri in the head coach role. Ancelotti is one of the reputable managers and known for his past Champions League triumphs with clubs like AC Milan and Real Madrid. However, he doesn't have the same resources as in his former teams here in Southern Italy and let's be realistic – it will be a success if Napoli proceeds at the expense of either PSG or Liverpool.

Liverpool – To Win The Champions League +1100 / To Win Group C +140

The Reds from Merseyside were close to lift the Champions League trophy for the sixth time in their notable history, but they have failed to take the last step and lost last season's final in Kyiv to Real Madrid. Jurgen Klopp's men were not prepared enough to run down their prominent opposition, especially when Mohamed Salah had to leave the field injured early in the game.

This time Liverpool looks much improved and their flawless start of the Premier League campaign has justified all pre-season expectations – The Reds are among the main title contenders. It will be interesting to follow how exactly will Jurgen Klopp approach in the Champions League – will he use all key players in the European games, or this season Liverpool will prioritize the domestic league? He will have to rotate the squad in any case.

Crvena Zvezda – To Win Group C + 15000 / To Advance +2200

Crvena Zvezda (or “Red Star” in English) eliminated Austrian RB Salzburg in the play-offs and thereby qualified for the UEFA Champions League group stage for the first time since the new format was introduced. The 1990-91 European Cup winners will now have a wonderful opportunity to compete with some of Europe's finest and they really have nothing to lose here. The champions of Serbia have already eliminated four teams during the qualifying – Spartaks Jurmala (Latvia), FK Suduva (Lithuania), Spartak Trnava (Slovakia) and RB Salzburg (Austria) – all of which were champions of their countries.

 

Group D: We don't find any of the big names in Group D which doesn't mean there is a lack of competition, not at all. We actually believe that the group is really balanced and hard to predict with the teams of Lokomotiv Moscow, FC Porto, Galatasaray and Schalke 04 all in serious contention for the top two spots.

Lokomotiv Moscow – To Win Group D +550 / To Advance +140

Lokomotiv Moscow were those situated in Pot 1 of the group stage draw as the latest Russian Premier League champions. The Red-Greens from Russian capital Moscow return in the Champions League for the first time since 2005, when they were eliminated in the qualifications. Thirteen years after their defeat to Austrian Rapid Vienna, Lokomotiv Moscow will kick-off its Champions League journey straight from the groups and although Yuri Semin's men surely were the most preferred Pot 1 opposition, they still have reasonable chances to go through.

FC Porto – To Win Group D +130 / To Advance -230

FC Porto is the most experienced team among all Group D contenders. With the highest coefficient from all (86.000), The Dragons are favorites of the bookies to win the group and to qualify for the Round of 16 respectively. The champions of Portugal are constantly participating in the top European club competitions and have won the Champions League twice – in 1987, as the European Cup, and 2004. Coach Sergio Conceicao has some excellent players in his squad and bookmakers have all reasons to believe that Porto will make it out of the groups.

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Schalke 04 – To Win Group D +190 / To Advance -180

After more than three years Schalke 04 will finally listen to the Champions League anthem live. The last Champions League match of the Gelsenkirchen outfit was a 4-3 victory over Real Madrid at the “Estadio Santiago Bernabeu” in Madrid in the 2014-15 Round of 16. This time The Royal Blues will be keen to reach the knockout phase once again and bookies believe that Schalke 04 are the Group D favorites to do so, alongside FC Porto. Domenico Tedesco's men have shown improvement under Domenico Tedesco and that was the reason why Schalke 04 finished second in the past Bundesliga season.

Galatasaray – To Win Group D +500 / To Advance +160

Turkish champions Galatasaray can be very pleased with their current Champions League perspectives. Given the fact that Galatasaray was placed in Pot 4 of the group stage draw, Fatih Terim's men have found themselves in an extremely balanced group and have all hopes to claim one of the top two positions. They are Turkey's only representative in the 2018-19 Champions League groups and we perfectly know how motivated Turkish clubs normally are in UEFA competitions.

 

Group E: Bayern Munich stands out among all Group E members but The Bavarians can't afford to underestimate any of the other sides – Ajax, Benfica and AEK Athens. If we consider the typical German approach, especially after Germany's 2018 World Cup failure, and we assume that Bayern looks stable enough to avoid a similar mistake, the currently suggested betting odds are spot on. Bookies also believe that Benfica and Ajax will compete for the second spot while AEK Athens are not only an underdog to qualify for the next stage, but one of the biggest underdogs to win the competition as well.

Bayern Munich – To Win The Champions League +950 / To Win Group E -700

Bayern Munich successfully retained the Bundesliga title for another year but The Bavarians remain in the shadow of other major continental clubs when it comes to the UEFA Champions League for the past few years. Niko Kovac is the new man in charge of the Bavarian powerhouse and the appointment at the Allianz Arena is unquestionably the greatest challenge of his managerial career so far.

Kovac will not only have to meet the high domestic expectations but to end the Spanish curse if Bayern faces a Spanish opposition in the knockout phase once again. Bayern Munich was eliminated by La Liga sides in the last five Champions League seasons (by Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and three times from Real Madrid), after winning the trophy in 2013.

Ajax – To Win Group E +1000 / To Advance +125

Ajax finished second in the last Eredivisie season but the four-time Champions League winners have successfully qualified for the upcoming group stage through qualifying. The Dutch vice-champions have already eliminated Sturm Graz (Austria), Standard Liege (Belgium) and Dynamo Kyiv (Ukraine), and they will be eager to carry on with their excellent work in the groups. In fact, Ajax returns in the Champions League groups for the first time since 2014 and de Godenzonen will try to qualify for the knockout phase for the first time since the 2005-06 season when they've lost to Inter Milan in the Round of 16.
In addition to experienced players like Daley Blind, Lasse Schone, Hakim Ziyech, Dusan Tadic and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Ajax's boss Erik ten Hag can be very pleased that he can rely on younger players coming from one of the best soccer academies in the world.

Benfica – To Win Group E +750 / To Advance -130

Benfica won't want to remember about last season's group stage when the glorious Portuguese club lost in all six rounds. The Eagles from Lisbon competed in the Champions League for the eighth time in a row but failed to earn a single point in the group stage for their first time, which became the worst campaign of a Portuguese club in the competition. Nevertheless, Rui Vitoria has kept his managerial position at “Estadio da Luz”, although his team also failed to win one of the domestic trophies last season.

Benfica reached the Champions League groups for the ninth successive year (a Portuguese record) after beating Fenerbahce (Turkey) and PAOK (Greece) in the qualifiers.

AEK Athens – To Win Group E +5000 / To Advance +500

AEK Athens have ended the domestic hegemony of Olympiacos who were Greece Superleague champions for seven consecutive seasons in period 2010-2017. Thus The Yellow-Blacks won the national championship for the 12th time and for the first time in 24 years. Nevertheless, coach Manolo Jimenez left the club at the end of the 2017-18 campaign and was replaced by Marinos Ouzounidis, who previously led AEK's city rivals Panathinaikos.

AEK remained stable under the leadership of Ouzounidis and the Athens club will participate in the Champions League groups for the first time since 2006. That happened thanks to the overall victories over Celtic (Scotland) and MOL Vidi (Hungary) in the qualifiers.

Group F: Although Lyon, Shakhtar Donetsk and Hoffenheim are teams which shouldn't be underestimated, as well as any other club that has somehow reached the Champions League group stage, Manchester City is surely the first club noticed by the fans when they look at Group G. The Citizens will most likely snatch the top position and the other three sides will be in contention for the second spot.

Manchester City – To Win The Champions League +450 / To Win Group F -550

Manchester City still can't achieve its Champions League dream, but after winning both the English Premier League and the EFL Cup in an unprecedented manner, Pep Guardiola's men look ready to take the next step. Perhaps their domestic excellence is the main reason why many online bookmakers consider Man City as the biggest favorites to win the trophy in Madrid. Moreover, Pep Guardiola can be extremely pleased with the overall squad depth he has.

With a few unsuccessful attempts to bring European silverware to England over the past decade, The Sky Blues are surely getting more and more impatient with each passing season. Manchester City reached the semi-finals in 2016, under Manuel Pellegrini, which yet remains their best Champions League performance. Now, after losing the quarter-final clash with Liverpool last season, Pep Guardiola and The Citizens are surely interested to leave a mark in Europe as well.
We sincerely believe that Manchester City should be considered one of the major favorites to win the new Champions League season and Pep Guardiola is a person who contributes for that image.

Hoffenheim – To Win Group F +1200 / To Advance +170

Hoffenheim is set to mark its Champions League group stage debut under Julian Nagelsmann before the young and ambitious German coach joins RB Leipzig from the 2019-20 season. This will be a remarkable moment for the Sinsheim club that finished third in the past Bundesliga campaign. This comes only a year after Hoffenheim made their European debut, qualifying for the 2017-18 Champions League playoffs, where they've lost to Liverpool.

Olympique Lyon – To Win Group F +900 / To Advance +120

Unlike their women's soccer team, Olympique Lyon have never won the UEFA Champions League. Lyon reached the semi-finals once, in 2010, when The Kids lost from Bayern Munich, which remains their greatest international accomplishment.
This year the squad led by Bruno Genesio finished third in the French Ligue 1, winning the race with Olympique Marseille, and thus qualified directly for the Champions League group stage.

Lyon eventually kept most of its key players like Nabil Fekir, Bertrand Traore, and Memphis Depay, with the forward Mariano being the only one who left Lyon to rejoin his former club Real Madrid.

Shakhtar Donetsk – To Win Group F +1200 / To Advance +180

Shakhtar Donetsk won the Ukrainian Premier League for the second successive year and their 11th domestic league trophy has sent them directly into the Champions League group stage.

After an absolute disaster in 2016-17, having been eliminated by Young Boys early in qualifying, Paulo Fonseca's men have reached the Round of 16 last season, where they lost to AS Roma due to the away goals rule. Nevertheless, Shakhtar Donetsk was a very tough opposition, especially at home soil (they play in Kharkiv due to the war conflict in Eastern Ukraine), where they have won all their games, including victories over Manchester City, Napoli and AS Roma.

 

Group G: Some old acquaintances will be renewed in Group G of the 2018-19 Champions League. We recognize two of last season's semi-finalists – Real Madrid and AS Roma, who have already met 10 times in Europe's top soccer competition over the years, including in the 2015-16 Round of 16. Viktoria Plzen and CSKA Moscow likewise share a common history, meeting in the 2013-14 group stage, with both sides winning their home games.

Real Madrid and AS Roma are the two favorites to proceed, obviously, but CSKA Moscow and Viktoria Plzen will both give their best efforts to upset the big names.

Real Madrid – To Win The Champions League +950 / To Win Group G -475

Most soccer fans wonder whether Real Madrid can defend their remarkable Champions League domination, especially when Los Blancos were recently left by their superstar Cristiano Ronaldo and by coach Zinedine Zidane. The 13-time Champions League winners have won the title in each of the last three seasons and in four of the last five, which sets incredibly high expectations to the new coach Julen Lopetegui. The former Spain manager was dismissed by the national team on the eve of the 2018 World Cup and he hopes that his action was worth it.

Even without Cristiano Ronaldo, top goalscorer of the last six Champions League editions, Real Madrid looks strong enough and Julen Lopetegui has tons of talent to work with. Marco Asensio is the one who will attack from the left wing and the 22-year-old Spaniard is unquestionably one of the best young players nowadays. Karim Benzema also revived his career and the experienced Frenchman has already scored five goals in four competitive games this season, while Gareth Bale attempts to plug the gap left by Ronaldo's departure.

AS Roma – To Win The Champions League +6250 / To Win Group G +400

AS Roma was really close to reaching the final in Kyiv last season, eliminating Barcelona in the quarter-finals, but Eusebio Di Francesco's men were stopped by Liverpool in the semis. This year The Giallorossi will have another excellent opportunity to qualify for the knockout phase, although Real Madrid are red hot favorites to top Group G. Anyway, being drawn alongside CSKA Moscow and Viktoria Plzen surely represents a realistic chance for the Roman club and with some brilliant players within his squad, Di Francesco shouldn't have much trouble when dueling his colleagues who are in charge of Viktoria Plzen and CSKA Moscow.

CSKA Moscow – To Win Group G +1900 / To Advance +325

CSKA Moscow has lost the title race to their city rivals Lokomotiv in the last Russian Premier League season, but The Red-Blues have earned themselves a direct entry into the Champions League group stage as runners-up. After an inconsistent beginning of the new domestic season, Viktor Goncharenko's men will hope to gain momentum in time, before the upcoming journey to the Czech Republic where they'll kick-off their Champions League campaign against Viktoria Plzen. That's a game which CSKA Moscow must try to win if they want to stand any chance in a competition with the likes of Real Madrid and AS Roma, but the same goes for the Czechs.

Viktoria Plzen – To Win Group G +3850 / To Advance +650

As champions of the Czech First League, Viktoria Plzen will feature in the Champions League groups for the third time in their history. They have won the domestic league for the fifth time and the squad led by the former Czech Republic national team coach, Pavel Vrba, is almost entirely built by Czech players. There are several Slovak players in the team and one Nigerian who joined Viktoria Plzen last summer, so the Czechs are logically one of the biggest underdogs not only in their group, but generally in the Champions League.

 

Group H: Group H is another source of fascination in this year's Champions League group stage. Not only because Cristiano Ronaldo's new club Juventus stands out there, but because we also find the three-time winners Manchester United, the 2000 and 2001 runners-up Valencia, as well as the champions of Switzerland – Young Boys, who are set for their group stage debut.

Manchester United – To Win The Champions League +3500 / To Win Group H +250

Manchester United suffered a disappointing summer transfer window and The Red Devils have won just two of their opening four Premier League matches, conceding seven goals in the first three rounds. The overall atmosphere at “Old Trafford” does not seem to be perfect, not at all to be honest, and as a result Jose Mourinho is the biggest favorite of the bookies to get sacked before the end of the EPL season. However, Manchester United simply can't be underestimated and Jose Mourinho's men will surely be keen to challenge Juventus for the top spot in Group H.

Juventus – To Win The Champions League +700 / To Win Group H -200

Winning the Scudetto became a regular chore for Juventus and The Bianconeri have clearly shown their intention to claim the Champions League trophy by signing a proven champion like Cristiano Ronaldo. After losing their last five Champions League finals (1997, 1998, 2003, 2015, 2017), the two-time winners (in 1985 and 1996) are the team with most final defeats in the competition and everyone in the Turin outfit is surely interested to end that negative streak. Massimiliano Allegri has lost key figures like the long-serving goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and striker Gonzalo Higuain, but “The Old Lady” should remain wise enough following the arrival of experienced individuals like Leonardo Bonucci and Cristiano Ronaldo.

In our opinion, bookies have all arguments to consider Juventus as one of the major contenders to win the UEFA Champions League this season.

Valencia – To Win Group H +700 / To Advance +140

Valencia returns to the Champions League after three years absence from Europe's prime soccer competition and they are potentially the Group H dark-horse. The Bats will strive to cause a stir by upsetting some of the two aforementioned favorites and a squad that finished fourth in the Spanish La Liga shouldn't be written off. Moreover, Valencia will celebrate its 100th anniversary in March 2019 so Marcelino's men have an additional reason to try to beat the odds and going through the groups will be an excellent gift to the supporters.

Young Boys – To Win Group H +5000 / To Advance +1400

Young Boys qualified for the Champions League groups for the first time in their history. After being runners-up in three consecutive years, BSC Young Boys have won the Swiss Championship for the first time since 1986. That was their 12th league title, which has ended the absolute hegemony of Basel, who were Swiss champions eight years in a row.

Kicking-off the new domestic season with six wins in the opening six rounds and eliminating Croatian champion Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League play-offs will surely boost Young Boys' confidence, but they will need something more when facing the likes of Manchester United, Juventus and Valencia.

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Champions League Betting Picks and Predictions

Although a legendary goalkeeper like Gianluigi Buffon couldn't fulfill his dream of winning the Champions League with Juventus and decided to leave the Turin outfit this summer, “The Old Lady” remains one of the top favorites to win the 2018-19 Champions League. Italian champions have built an image of an almost invincible opposition at the domestic scene but they still fail to bring European silverware to Italy in the 21st century.

Following their dramatic Champions League triumph in May 1996, when Marcello Lippi's Juventus defeated Ajax on penalties in Rome, The Bianconeri have lost five finals in a row – vs Borussia Dortmund in 1997, vs Real Madrid in 1998 and 2017, vs AC Milan in 2003, and vs Barcelona in 2015. This makes them the team with most Champions League Final defeats – 7 in overall.

Now, despite Buffon's departure, Juventus looks stable in each zone and Massimiliano Allegri can be extremely pleased to have a proven figure like Cristiano Ronaldo in his setup. The five-time Champions League winner joined Juve in a transfer worth €100 million, the highest fee ever paid for a player over 30 years-old, and the highest ever paid by an Italian club.

Considering Ronaldo's ambitious personality, anything but winning the Scudetto and claiming another Champions League trophy with his new club would be a disappointment for the experienced Portuguese athlete, who will turn 34 in February. Even though he failed to score in his first three Serie A appearances, Cristiano Ronaldo is an accomplished forward who has scored 450 goals in 438 games for his former club and thus became Real Madrid's all-time top goalscorer. Moreover, he already netted a brace in the 2-1 victory over Sassuolo, which took place couple of days before Juve's Champions League opener against Valencia in Spain.

When mentioning Valencia, Joao Cancelo was another summer purchase of The Bianconeri and he came exactly from the Spanish club, so he must replace Stephan Lichtsteiner, whose contract expired, on the right-back.

With a prolific striker like Ronaldo, who has the title-winning mentality in his DNA, Juventus seems to be a reasonable choice when it comes to Champions League outright betting, but our picks are not based on Cristiano's presence only.

Even without Gigi Buffon, Max Allegri can still choose between reliable goalkeepers like Wojciech Szczesny and the summer signing Mattia Perin. Another summer capture of the Italian giants was the experienced Italy national team defender Leonardo Bonucci who rejoined “The Old Lady” after a season-long spell in the Serie A rivals AC Milan. That was another great business done by the Italian champions and Allegri can once again rely on the good old centre-back partnership between Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini, who is the new captain.

With other great players like Andrea Barzagli, Alex Sandro, Sami Khedira, Blaise Matuidi, Miralem Pjanic, Douglas Costa, Mario Mandzukic and Paulo Dybala, to name a few, Massimiliano Allegri surely has some title-winning material at his disposal. Consequently, we believe that Juventus are among the strongest contenders in this season's Champions League and one of our pre-tournament bets respectively.

Bookmaker offers odds +700 on Juventus to win the Champions League! This means you can win $700 if you bet a hundred bucks on “The Old Lady” and she finally takes the Champions League trophy to Turin!

Except Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) is another strong favorite to win the 2018-19 Champions League. The Parisians are now led by Thomas Tuchel who has tons of talent in his squad and with the likes of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, and Edinson Cavani leading the attack, PSG can defeat any given team in the competition.

Perhaps PSG's potential was the reason why the 40-years-old Gianluigi Buffon decided to extend his career by joining the French champions, instead of retiring from competitive soccer.

The Qatari owners of the Paris outfit have made significant investments in the club since acquiring it in 2011 and the record-breaking transfers of both Kylian Mbappe and Neymar are an evidence for their intentions. Indeed, Mbappe (€135 million from AS Monaco) and Neymar (€222 million from Barcelona) are the two most expensive soccer transfers of all time.

PSG have gained indispensable Champions League experience over the past few years and the exceptional wealth they own requires proper results sooner or later. After clinching the Ligue 1 title in five of the last six campaigns and winning a domestic treble last season, PSG looks ready to take the next step.

Their impressive squad depth should provide enough resilience to Thomas Tuchel throughout the season and fact that some other club will hardly surprise PSG in France will allow them to set the Champions League as their highest priority.

Although they're drawn in a very competitive group, PSG is another good pick in our opinion so we suggest betting on The Parisians. Bookmaker offers +725 on the French champions!

It's about time for some other team to end Spain's Champions League dominance and teams like Juventus and PSG are the perfect match for our expectations.

Last Italian team to win the Champions League was Inter Milan in 2010, while the most recent French triumph took place in 1993 when Marseille won against AC Milan.

 

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