Even though Real Madrid has won the Champions League three consecutive times and is one of the favorites in 2018-19, they are not the team to beat. That’s because superstar Cristiano Ronaldo has departed, making Real Madrid a good team but not a great one any longer.
The group stage begins this month and rolls through December as the teams continue to get whittled down. The longtime top clubs should all be in the mix once again as it is tough for the second and third tier teams to make any sort of move without the requisite talent to compete.
Manchester CIty has been listed as the favorite to win the Champions League. Ronaldo has moved from Real Madrid to Juventus in the transfer window. The addition of the 33-year-old superstar is huge for Juventus and they are not surprisingly one of the teams right in the mix to win the league. This is going to be another interesting and jam-packed Champions League season with the group stage really heating things up.
Vegas Odds Analysis
Group Stage Watch
The group stages were drawn at the end of August, as the 32 teams in the Champions League were broken up into sections of four apiece. In every group each club will play the other three both at home and away in a round-robin format. The top two teams in the standings will then advance to the Round of 16.
The first matches will be held September 18-19, the second October 2-3, the third on October 23-24, the fourth November 6-7, the fifth November 27-28 and the final matches will take place December 11-12.
Group A features Atletico Madrid, Club Brugge, Borussia Dortmund and Monaco. Atletico Madrid could be the favorite in this group with Borussia Dortmund a main challenger.
Group B will consist of Tottenham Hotspur, Barcelona, PSV Eindhoven and Internazionale. Barcelona is one of the favorites in the whole tournament and is the club to beat.
Group C will have Napoli, Liverpool, Paris Saint-Germain and Red Star Belgrade. Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain figure to battle it out for group supremacy.
Group D will feature Porto, Galatasaray, Lokomotiv Moscow and Schalke 4. This is one of the most interesting groups which could be hard to peg.
Group E has Bayern Munich, Ajax, AEK Athens and Benfica. Bayern Munich should roll to the top spot in this group as this is a favorable draw.
The Group F participants are Manchester City, 1899 Hoffenheim, Shakhtar Donetsk and Lyon. Manchester United should cruise in this group as it has much higher expectations moving forward.
Group G features CSKA Moscow, Real Madrid, Roma and Viktoria Plzen. Real Madrid may no longer have Ronaldo but the club is still very strong. So is Roma and those two teams should advance past the group stage.
The final group is H, which features Juventus, Young Boys, Manchester United and Valencia. Juventus has Ronaldo leading the way and should win this group. Manchester United has been up and down but is still likely to advance.
Who You Should Bet On
Real Madrid’s reign atop the Champions League is likely to end this year, but who will take their place atop the league? Juventus got their best player and is playing really good soccer. They are the choice to navigate through the group stage and eventually make it to the final, where they will claim the Champions League title.
Champions League Pick: Juventus to win the Champions League at +650
Check out the latest Champions League betting odds for today.