Football fans are in for a treat this season when the Champions League resumes with playoff matches that feature some of the strongest teams in football history.
The Champions League is the most famous football tournament in the world and also the best paying competition. It features the elite of European football, and in recent years, Premier League teams have dominated the tournament. Real Madrid and Barcelona are no longer the main favorites, as reflected by the odds published by leading bookmakers featured at casino site reviewer – UK holy moly. In 2020, the race is tighter than ever, with Liverpool and Manchester City having a clear edge over the pack.
The amounts spent by the most influential European football clubs have increased on a yearly basis, and records are being routinely shattered. Teams are willing to pay in excess of $100 million on top players while being reluctant to sell their best-performing assets for similar amounts. Free agents are few, and in spite of the huge sums paid, many top players don’t even reach the end of their contracts. The quality of the starting formation is no longer the decisive factor, as the depth of these teams is more important than ever.
Most of the teams participating in the Champions League play more than 50 games per season for an average of one match per week. This is a taxing task, and the inability to replace injured and suspended players with assets of the same caliber is the path to elimination. Fatigue and injuries led to some fantastic comebacks last season, with Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham in the spotlight. English teams have spent lavishly during the season break and are entitled to expect excellent results.
The Champions League group stage provided a taste of what’s to come after some of the favorites to qualify were eliminated. Ajax failed to advance after losing key points at home, while Inter Milan was also denied the chance to reach the last 16. The latter have invested massively in new players and are even credited with a decent chance at challenging Juventus for the Serie A title. Meanwhile, Atalanta, Napoli, Valencia, and Lyon have advanced, but are huge underdogs with three-digit odds to win the trophy.
Atletico and Real Madrid were pitted against Liverpool, and Manchester City and the Spanish teams are clear underdogs in the double-legged affair. They are not expected to qualify, and for the first time in a decade, the odds on them to win the Champions League exceed 20/1. That’s in spite of both of them having magnificent starting formations, experienced managers, and enough depth to weather the high game frequency.
Liverpool and Manchester City have pretty much settled their score in the Premier League, where they are likely to finish first, respectively second. This should leave both teams enough time and resources to focus on the task at hand, which is to win the flagship European competition. The fact that the odds revolve around 4/1 ahead of the difficult matches against Spanish giants speaks volumes of their quality.
“Class is permanent, while the form is temporary” is a famous saying that has a pleasant ring for Barcelona, Juventus and Bayern Munich fans. These are teams that have won the Champions League on multiple occasions, and it would be a mistake to underestimate them. They all play the opening playoff matches on the road and start with the first chance to win away from home against weaker teams. The double-legged format benefits them much, as they are challenging to beat in front of their fans.
PSG were the ones to start the spending frenzy in European football, but the money invested is yet to pay dividends. The Parisians don’t need another heartbreaking story, after finding themselves at the wrong end of some incredible comebacks. They are the dark horses of the Champions League and those who underestimate them, do so at their peril.
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