Champions League resumes: who will win?

UEFA has announced the UCL will resume in August as a single-game elimination tournament and according to SportsBettingDime, Manchester City and Bayern Munich are tight as favourites to raise this year’s UCL trophy with odds at +300.

Bayern Munich

After securing the Bundesliga title in June, Bayern Munich look worthy contenders under Hans-Dieter Flick.

They boast two of the finest full-backs in world football in the technical Benjamin Pavard and the athletic Alphonso Davies, who complete a defensive that is protected by a solid double-pivot of Leon Goretzka and Joshua Kimmich, who work in tandem with the full-backs.

Going forward, meanwhile, they possess the pace of Serge Gnabry, the experience of Ivan Perisic and the goalscoring nous of Robert Lewandowski, who has 45 goals to his name in all competitions.

Manchester City

City have been arguably the best team in Europe over the last three years – and yet, their domestic work has not quite translated into Champions League performances.

In 2017-18 and 2018-19, Pep Guardiola had to balance continental objectives with a Premier League title challenge but this time, circumstances are different.

On the one hand, City are not as good as they were in the previous two campaigns.

A combination of Vincent Kompany’s retirement and Aymeric Laporte’s injury has led to either out-of-form centre-backs like John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi coming in, or Fernandinho covering at centre-back.

The latter has seen Rodri step in and the Spaniard lacks his positional rival’s strength and tenacity, which in turn has led to Kevin De Bruyne shackled by greater defensive responsibilities and thus issues from one area have spread across the team.

If Pep Guardiola can find sustainable solutions to those issues, though, then the Mancunian outfit will be well worthy of the favourites tag based on all the attacking quality they possess: De Bruyne, David Silva, Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero are among the best players in the world.

Plus, with no Premier League title challenge interrupting them, this is a time they can put their full mind to European glory.

Paris Saint-Germain

If Bayern have two of the best full-backs in the world and Man City, the best midfielder, then PSG boast two of the planet’s three strongest forwards.

Kylian Mbappe possesses searing pace and quality while Neymar has the unique ability to glide past opponents as though they are not even there; the duo have scored a combined 31 goals in 35 appearances this term.

Angel Di Maria, meanwhile, has been Le Parisiens assist king with 14 and his selfless running has been key to making Mbappe and Neymar shine.

Barcelona

Barca possess Lionel Messi which, by definition, is a huge advantage, but they also have Antoine Griezmann who brings further quality from the left and teenage talent Ansu Fati.

Still, this Blaugrana outfit perhaps lacks the fluency they displayed under Pep Guardiola, especially in the 2010-11 campaign.

That year, Messi was the one providing the finishing touches to a wonderful team, whereas more recently, he has been the one trying to make the team wonderful in the first place.

The Catalonian outfit have struggled to find replacements for Xavi and Andres Iniesta, even though they left in 2014 and 2018 respectively; though they hope to have found solutions in Frenkie De Jong and Arthur.

Juventus

Bianconeri have reached nine Champions League or European Cup Finals, but only been victorious in two of them, their last victory having come in 1996.

With Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci coming to the end of their respective careers, the task for Maurizio Sarri has been to evolve the squad.

The former Chelsea boss has certainly been helped by the signing of Matthijs de Ligt, who has the ball-playing qualities to facilitate his style, which is more possession-heavy than that of Max Allegri.

It helps that Juve have Cristiano Ronaldo, who has won the Champions League five times.

Atletico Madrid

Atletico were somewhat fortunate to win their last-16 tie with Liverpool.

They took a one-goal lead to Anfield and were peppered for the 90 minutes, conceding plenty of chances in that time amongst Georginio Wijnaldum’s goal, before stunning them in extra time through a Marcos Llorente brace.

Atleti have a reliable long-serving core of Saul, Koke, José Giménez and Jan Oblak but haven’t been able to support the old guard by adding or retaining star quality – though 20-year-old forward Joao Felix has an exciting future.