There’s a strange look to the Champions League last 16 this season, with Juventus and Barcelona conspicuous by their absence and a lopsided draw that sees two of the last three finals being repeated in the very first knockout round. Which all makes for an interesting favourites list – one in which at least two of the top five in the list won’t be in the quarter-finals – where Manchester City’s hopes are rated better at this relatively early stage of proceedings than they ever have been before…
These are the top 10 favourites for the 2023 Champions League according to the best odds available at oddschecker.com as of… now.
1. Manchester City
Is this finally the year for City and Pep Guardiola to land the Big One? They’re already out of Quadruple contention, so that’s one narrative thread out of the way at least and there remains a distinct possibility if not quite a probability (yet) that they won’t win the Premier League either. A first Champions League title would make all that absolutely fine, though, but they look flaky favourites. A lot of these other teams are definitely better than Southampton.
2. Bayern Munich
Would normally want to have more than a four-point lead domestically by this point in order to be able to concentrate fully on the Champions League as is customary, but they should still be fine. A more significant fly in the ointment is the fact their reward for a flawless group stage record is a last-16 clash with third favourites PSG.
3. Paris Saint-Germain
Firmly on course for their now customary French title and thus more able than your Manchester Citys to focus all attention on that elusive first European crown, but they have paid a heavy price for finishing second to Benfica in the group stage. The fact the second and third favourites are playing each other in a last-16 repeat of the 2020 final does rather suggest there should be some value further down the list, while also highlighting that some nagging doubt or other exists about every single one of those sides.
The second and third favourites are playing each other in a repeat of a recent final. And so too are the fourth and fifth favourites. Liverpool may be stuttering alarmingly domestically but can surely consider themselves doubly unfortunate here having managed to finish second in their group despite amassing 15 points from a possible 18 and then been paired with 14-time winners and reigning champions Real Madrid.
5. Real Madrid
We would suggest Liverpool were not the second-placed side Real Madrid would have chosen to face despite getting the better of them for the second final in five years at the Stade de France in May. Liverpool’s domestic struggles will have offered encouragement to the champions, but they’ve lost two of their last four league games themselves and haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory in a 1-0 Copa del Rey victory at lowly Cacereno or in needing penalties to defeat Valencia in the Supercopa de Espana. But they still found a way in those knockout games, and finding a way in knockout games is what Real Madrid do better than any other team on earth.
Impressively topped Liverpool’s group with five wins in their first five games and Eintracht Frankfurt in the last 16 represents decent reward for winning their group, Frankfurt being the other team to qualify with Spurs from the banter group. Also flying domestically, top of Serie A despite recently suffering a first defeat of the season, and even with the doubts over their crunch Champions League experience the fact at least two of the five teams ahead of them in the betting won’t be in the last eight suggests they might offer a bit of value still.
A struggling Dortmund represent decent last-16 opposition for the 2012 and 2021 winners but you’d have to be pretty brave or foolish to expect too much of a Chelsea side currently 10th in the Premier League and arguably flattered to be as high as that. Winning the Champions League looks both a massive long shot and like it might be their best/only way back into the competition next season.
The greater struggles of Chelsea and Liverpool have taken some heat off Spurs, but the 2019 runners-up are playing miserable football badly an awful lot of the time. Plus Antonio Conte has a miserable record in this competition even with teams he’s broadly happy with having only once reached the last eight. But they did win their (admittedly chaotic) group and have reason enough to feel quietly confident of getting past a dangerous but non-vintage Milan side in the last 16.
Topped a group containing PSG and Juventus and have Club Brugge in the last 16. Are thus probably entitled to feel a bit miffed about being below this Chelsea and this Spurs right now.
Worthy second-place finishers in the group Bayern steamrolled, Inter picked up 10 points from their other four games to condemn Barcelona to the Europa League play-off round. And while Bayern’s reward for six wins out of six was PSG in the last 16, Inter won three games out of six and end up with Porto. Life isn’t fair sometimes, is it? The Italian side are the one runner-up clearly favoured to eliminate a group winner in the last 16.
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