Here’s Leonid with his featured article on the favourites for the UEFA Champions League
Who are the favourites to win the Champions League?
The Champions League has now reached the round of 16 with all the first leg games nearly complete.
You can see from bonuscodebets.co.uk that the current favourites are generally Manchester City just in front of Pep Guardiola’s former club Barcelona.
Both teams won their Champions League Group. Manchester City recovered from their opening game shock loss to Lyon to go unbeaten from there on including a 3-0 win away and 6-0 win in Manchester over the Ukrainian Champions. Significantly Manchester City were the first English side to win away at Shaktar after the Ukranian side had won 5 and drawn 2 of their previous meetings with English opponents.
The victory in Ukraine was also vindication of Guardiola’s bravery in selection as it was the first time Manchester City had won a Champions League game without Aguero in the team as he dropped to the bench with Gabriel Jesus starting.
Manchester City have also had the luck of the draw in the round of 16, being drawn against German side Schalke. They currently sit 14th out of 18 in the Bundesliga. Their attack has struggled with only 4 sides having scored less goals.
Manchester City’s main enemy could be themselves though as they look to win the quadruple in England. They are in the EFL Cup final against a suffering Chelsea team who they recently beat 6-0 and have a kind quarter final draw at Swansea in the FA Cup. They sit at the top of the Premier League equal on points with Liverpool although the team from Anfield have a game in hand. However, Liverpool look like they will relentlessly hunt them down and Manchester City will have little time to relax. Luckily Guardiola has assembled a big squad and will be able to rotate to maximise physical and mental freshness.
Barcelona on the other hand won their Champions League Group unbeaten and sit 7 points clear in La Liga with a list of stuttering chasers behind them.
They won their Champions League group unbeaten, cantering through with only 2 draws preventing a clean sweep. One of those draws was in the last game versus Spurs when the group was already won.
Who else can we expect to prevent Manchester City and Barcelona winning the Champions League? PSG look handily placed to go through to the quarters after their impressive 2-0 in Manchester against United. They return to Paris for the 2nd leg with United missing the suspended Pogba. They have the league pretty much wrapped up in France and have the ability to focus principally on the Champions League with minimum distraction.
Juventus are in a similar position to PSG in their domestic league as they are 13 points clear but they have a tricky draw facing the determined Athletic Madrid side in what will surely be 2 legged war of attrition. That’s unless Ronaldo can produce one of his magic moments to separate the sides.
It’s hard to see the winners coming from outside of these 4. Liverpool have a difficult 2nd leg after a draw at home to Bayern. Real Madrid are stuttering in La Liga and have lost an incredible 7 times in the first 24 games. Their defence has consistently looked shaky and they have conceded 29 goals. The same amount as 16th placed Real Valladolid. Their lead in to this game was a home loss to 15th placed Girona.
Nothing would please Guardiola more I imagine than winning his first Champions League with Manchester City against his former side Barcelona and the neutrals will be hoping that is the Champions League final on the 1st of June 2019