The UEFA Champions League is the pinnacle of club soccer, featuring as it does the biggest and best clubs in Europe, from England, Spain, Germany, Italy and France among others.
The 2021-22 tournament qualification stage is now complete, but the leading contenders already secured automatic qualification for the group stage, which is when the Champions League really starts to become interesting.
The final will be played at the Krestovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg, Russia on May 28, 2022.
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2021-22 UEFA Champions League Odds
Manchester City were the favorites to win this season’s tournament at +275 with Bovada, until the recent financial problems at Barcelona resulted in the Catalan giants being unable to afford to retain Lionel Messi, with the Argentinean legend joining Paris Saint-Germain as a consequence.
Can addition of Lionel Messi push Paris Saint-Germain to first Champions League title?
PSG, backed by the funding of their owners Qatar Sports Investments (QSI), were considered a strong contender for the Champions League this season even before the arrival of arguably the greatest footballer of all time, Lionel Messi, having been beaten finalists in 2020 and semi finalists last season.
They have also made a number of other excellent signings during the offseason in addition to Messi, bringing in Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, veteran Spanish central defender Sergio Ramos, Dutch midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum and Moroccan right-back Achraf Hakimi.
Those players have joined a club that can already count on the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Neymar, Angel Di Maria, Marco Verratti and Marquinhos.
Manchester City have now been relegated to second favorites with Bovada at +350, marginally behind PSG.
Top Teams in the Champions League
Man City too have invested heavily in strengthening their squad over the summer though, with the £100 million signing of England midfielder Jack Grealish from Aston Villa. At the time of writing, they are also still pursuing the England striker Harry Kane from Tottenham Hotspur, with a transfer fee that could far exceed that of Grealish. Should they succeed in signing Kane, the Citizens could be reinstated as favorites themselves.
German powerhouse Bayern Munich are +700 to win the trophy for the second time in three seasons. They have a new coach in the very highly-regarded Julian Nagelsmann and a very strong team, including the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Leon Goretzka, Joshua Kimmich, Thomas Muller, Dayot Upamecano, Leroy Sane and the up-and-coming Jamal Musiala. The problem for Bayern is that there isn’t a great deal of depth to their squad and that can be a factor later in the season.
The defending champions Chelsea can be backed at odds of +800. They have much the same squad as that which won the title last year, but have now added the prolific goalscorer Romelu Lukaku from Inter Milan.
Chelsea were a much-improved team once Thomas Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard as coach in January this year and they are again capable of going deep into the latter stages of the tournament.
Liverpool are also available at +900. They underachieved somewhat last season both in Europe and domestically, although injuries throughout the campaign had a major bearing on that. European nights in front of a capacity crowd at Anfield can create an incredible atmosphere and that alone makes the Reds a team that their rivals will be wary of.
The fourth of the contenders from the English Premier League are Manchester United, who have been cut from +1200 to +800 following the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo. The Red Devils have also strengthened their squad ahead further of the new season with the signings of Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane, but may still be short of the requisite overall quality to win the Champions League.
The Spanish duo of Barcelona and Real Madrid are both on offer at odds of +1600. It’s a long time since two of the traditional heavyweights of European football have been available at such odds, which is a sign of how both are struggling financially at present.
The loss of Messi aside, Barcelona has made a few decent signings in the offseason. However, it’s difficult to believe that they, as a club, currently possess either the squad or the self-belief to be crowned champions of Europe at present.
Real Madrid have added the services of David Alaba, the versatile Austrian from Bayern Munich, but have lost their captain and driving force in Ramos, who joined PSG, and his central defensive partner, Varane, to Manchester United.
The reality is that Real are in need of something of an overhaul, but lack the funds to do so. As a consequence, they are still heavily reliant on veterans Luka Modric and Karim Benzema.
Other Leading Contenders
There will also be interest in Juventus at +2000, Atletico Madrid at +2500. Borussia Dortmund at +4000, Inter Milan at +4000, Atalanta at +5000 and RB Leipzig at +5000.
Although Juventus can no longer call upon the talismanic Cristiano Ronaldo following his return to Manchester Utd they can still call upon several members of the Italian squad that recently won the European Championships.
Atletico Madrid are always a difficult team to beat under their coach Diego Simeone, whilst the German duo of Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig are capable of beating anyone on their day.
In reality, the two favorites in the Champions League betting do look a class above the rest at this stage and would make a final that many neutral fans would love to see.
* Champions League odds correct at the time of writing. All odds are subject to changes.
Champions League Frequently Asked Questions
Who won the Champions League in 2020/21?
Chelsea are the defending champions, having defeated their English Premier League (EPL) rivals Manchester City 1-0 in last season’s final.
Where & when is the 2021/22 Champions League Final?
The final is scheduled to be played at the Krestovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg, Russia on May 28, 2022.