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Five Favorites to win the Champions League

The Champions League provides viewers and bettors alike some of the most exciting and stressful soccer each year. It’s a stage where legends are made and drama is at an all time high. Year after year bettors are heartbroken from last minute goals, or on top of the world because of cinderella stories and late heroics. This years Champions League will look to bring that same drama and excitement that we’ve seen time and time again.

Manchester City

The champions of England are the early betting favorites to win the Champions League this upcoming season, and for good reason. Pep Guardiola has been building something special in the city of Manchester ever since his arrival in February of 2016. Manchester City have won back to back Premier League titles, but the Champions League trophy has seemingly slipped through their fingers the past two years. The Citizens experienced heartbreak in the quarter-finals against Tottenham last year. Raheem Sterling appeared to have scored the game winner in injury time, however a minute later the goal was called back due to Sergio Agüero being in an offside position right before he found Sterling deep inside the 18 yard box. 

City currently sit at +400 to hoist the trophy come late May [According to DraftKings]. Guardiola has focused on stabilizing the defense this summer by bringing in defensive midfielder, Rodri for close to $80 million from Atletico Madrid, as well as right-back João Cancelo for close to $75 million from Juventus. City already have elite offensive firepower with Sergio Agüero, Gabriel Jesus, Raheem Sterling, and Kevin De Bruyne to name a few. With the additions this summer, City now also have a talented and deep squad at the back. The likes of Aymeric Laporte, Nicolás Otamendi, Kyle Walker, and now João Cancelo will be a few of many on the Manchester City side who will look to shut down some of the Champions League’s finest attacking options. 

Manchester City have one of the most complete squads in the entire world. They deserve to be the betting favorites going into this years Champions League. Up top they have a true goalscorer in Sergio Agüero. Lightning fast pace with Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sané. Midfield maestros in Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva. Physicality at the back with John Stones and Benjamin Mendy, and finally, a world-class goalkeeper in Ederson. Coupled with all this talent is Pep Guardiola’s sharp and creative soccer mind. He implements tactics which get the outside defensive backs involved in the play, close to the central areas of the field. This allows for various passing options to open up in the midfield along with confusion for opposing teams defenses as City move up the pitch. Further, having the full-backs involved closely with the play allow for protection against quick counter attacks. City can compete in any game against any team in the world. They have the attacking abilities to win a high scoring affair, while also having the defensive talent to come out victorious in low scoring games. Look for Manchester City to have their eyes dead set on the Champions League trophy this year.

FC Barcelona

When a person thinks of some of the top soccer teams in the world, FC Barcelona has always been near the top of that list. Last year, Barcelona was 90 minutes away from reaching their first Champions League final since 2015 before losing 4-0 to the eventual champions, Liverpool in the second leg of the semi-finals, losing on aggregate 4-3. Barcelona focused on adding offensive firepower and midfield skill this summer to bolster another run at the Champions League title this upcoming season. 

Barcelona did business with fellow Spanish side Atlético Madrid signing world-class striker Antoine Griezmann for close to $137 million this past July. The addition of Griezmann makes Barcelona one of, if not the most talented attacking soccer team in the whole world. Their five primary attacking options are Ousmane Dembélé, Philippe Coutinho, Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann, and Luis Suárez. Each one of these players could be the primary attacking option for almost all soccer clubs around the globe. Barcelona also added Frenkie de Jong from Ajax for just over $85 million in early July. Frenkie de Jong played an important part in Ajax’s remarkable run to the Champions League semi-finals. De Jong is an elusive midfielder who works well with his teammates. At only 22 years of age, de Jong has the potential to be one of Barcelona’s top players for many years to come. This signing only adds to Barcelona’s midfield depth. Players like Sergio Busquets, Ivan Rakitic, and Arturo Vidal along with de Jong have the ability to shred apart defenses with their quick passing and on-ball strength. 

Barcelona’s defensive options may not be the flashiest but they are still some of the best in the world. Gerard Piqué, Samuel Umtiti, and Jordi Alba all play a physical style of soccer. These three defenders will look to move the ball swiftly from the defense to their offensive options in search of a quick counter attack. Finally, with Marc-André ter Stegen as their goalkeeper, Barcelona, like Manchester City have one of the most complete squads in the world. Barcelona currently sit at +600 on the books to win the Champions League title [According to DraftKings]. This is only behind Manchester City for the highest odds. If Barcelona can stay healthy throughout the tournament they will not let their bettors down.

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