The Champions League group fixtures have been announced!
We’ve got some weak groups (Group G: Monaco, Porto, Beşiktaş, RB Leipzig) and we’ve got some stacked groups (Group D: Juventus, Barcelona, Sporting, Olympiacos), which will lead to some top-tier clashes during the group stage. But no group is so stacked that a preseason favorite looks to be in danger of exiting early.
Who will win the 2017-18 Champions League? Who will be the top scorer? How will the English teams fare? And will Jose Mourinho lose his cool? Here’s a look at the numbers.
2017-18 UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE ODDS
ODDS TO WIN THE UCL TITLE
- Real Madrid: 4/1
- Barcelona: 7/1
- Bayern Munich: 7/1
- Paris Saint-Germain: 9/1
- Manchester City: 13/1
- Manchester United: 13/1
- Juventus: 19/1
Real Madrid is the best team in the world right now. After winning La Liga and the Champions League last season, the current Los Blancos squad is seemingly untouchable. No team has won three consecutive Champions Leagues since Bayern Munich in the mid-70s, but if any modern team can, it’s Zinedine Zidane’s squad.
As expected, Barcelona and Bayern Munich are among the favorites as well. Barca recently snapped up Ousmane Dembélé to replace Neymar, but more changes need to be made to the aging squad if they’re going to be as good in years past. Bayern picked up James Rodriguez on loan, which should add a little more depth to their lineup.
After a crazy summer spending spree, both Manchester clubs have a decent shot at the Champions League. They’re still a few notches below the likes of Madrid, Barca, and Bayern, but they will be competitive.
Let’s not forget about PSG, the eternal Champions League chokers. With Neymar on board, perhaps this will be their moment. He doesn’t have a great supporting cast, though, at least not by his lofty Barcelona standards.
OVER/UNDER NUMBER OF EPL TEAMS TO REACH THE KNOCKOUT STAGE: 3.5
If Man United and Man City fail to advance past the Group Stage, then someone needs to be fired. With the amount of money both clubs spent over the summer (not to mention their already star-studded lineups), they should be expected to advance quite easily from their relatively easy groups: City’s quartet features Feyenoord Rotterdam, Napoli, and Shakhtar Donetsk. United are grouped with Basel, Benfica, and CSKA Moscow.
Liverpool are up against Sevilla, Spartak Moscow, and Maribor, which shouldn’t be too difficult, either. But the Reds aren’t at their best at the moment. Philippe Coutinho is jockeying for a move to Barcelona and their backline still needs some work.
Chelsea and Tottenham will have a tough time surviving their groups. Chelsea face Atlético Madrid and Roma — and are barely over 50/50 to get out of the Group Stage — while Tottenham stares down Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund, and are likely the third-best team in Group H.
ODDS TO BE THE TOP GOAL SCORER
- Lionel Messi: 6/1
- Cristiano Ronaldo: 6/1
- Robert Lewandowski: 8/1
- Neymar: 10/1
- Romelu Lukaku: 16/1
The Messi-Ronaldo rivalry isn’t dying down anytime soon, and they’ll be taking the fight to the Champions League once again.
Ronaldo won the scoring title last year and enters the year as the co-favorite with the Little Wizard. He’d be the outright favorite, given his recent form, but without Neymar in the front three, Barca will need Messi to score even more this season.
With Thomas Müller struggling for form, Bayern have had to rely even more on Robert Lewandowski to bring in the goals. Look for the Pole to fill the net all season.
Neymar is looking dominant in early Ligue 1 play, but that’s akin to second-division compared to the Champions League, where PSG is grouped with Bayern Munich. Playing alongside Edinson Cavani, Neymar will need to tally a ton of UCL goals in order to justify his price tag.
Romelu Lukaku finally has a chance to play in the Champions League, and expectations for him are high. However, the Belgian striker often struggles to score against top teams and tends to score most of his goals against lower-tier sides. Unless he fills the net early in the Group Stage, he’s not likely to win the scoring race.
ODDS JOSE MOURINHO (MAN UTD) WILL GET SENT TO THE STANDS FOR MISCONDUCT: 4/1
There’s a lot that could go wrong here. Four of Mourinho’s former clubs — Benfica, Porto, Real Madrid, and Chelsea — will also be contesting the Champions League, and the notorious manager isn’t known for leaving on good terms. And then there’s also the bitter Guardiola-Mourinho rivalry. Mou is the life of the party!
Let's have fun and keep it civil.