The 2018/19 Champions League final will be played in Madrid, Spain on the 1st of June, 2019. The action kicked off almost a year earlier, with the preliminary round featuring teams such as the Lincoln Red Imps of Gibraltar and Drita of Kosovo, but now only the big guns are left.
So who will win this year’s Champions League? At the time of writing, there are still eight teams left, with holders Real Madrid being one of the big names to have already exited following a sensational defeat by Ajax. However, there are a few teams in the mix that are classed as clear favourites.
Interestingly, Pep Guardiola is the only manager left in the tournament who has previously won the Champions League, having done so in 2009 and 2011. The Sky Blues are the current Premier League champions, but their only European trophy came back in 1969/70, when they beat Górnik Zabrze of Poland 2-1 in the European Cup Winners’ Cup Final held in Vienna. Right now, they are arguably the tournament’s in-form team, and this is reflected in them being priced as favourites.
Will the Old Lady of Italian football win the trophy that they last held aloft after beating Ajax on penalties in 1996? Head coach Massimiliano Allegri has built a team with a formidable defence combined with the goal-scoring talent of Cristiano Ronaldo up front.
Many bookies have them as second favourites. For instance, as of 4th April, https://www.mrgreen.com/en/ lists them as 13/4, which is behind only Manchester City at 11/5 and ahead of Barcelona at 7/2. Mr Green’s sportsbook also includes live betting, so you can wager on markets like corners and yellow cards while the games are going on for accurate, up-to-date odds
It would be foolish to write off Barcelona, especially as Lionel Messi continues to break goal-scoring records. They may not be the outstanding force of a few years ago, but they swept aside Lyon in the round of 16 to creep closer to the title. It is worth noting that this is the highest-paid sports team in the world and the first ever to average £10 million in annual salaries, according to Global Salaries.
Will Liverpool win again to stretch their lead as the English team with most European cups? Jürgen Klopp will be looking to follow the footsteps of Rafael Benítez, who won their fifth European trophy on an unforgettable night in Istanbul in 2005. You can get around 4/1 on the Reds, making it another night of joy in Madrid this year.
The other Manchester giants are in the rather unusual position of being regarded as outsiders as 20/1 for the Champions League this year. Could new manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær lead them to the trophy that he famously helped to win with his injury-time goal against Bayern Munich in 1999? An unexpected victory over PSG in the round of 16 has kept their hopes alive this year.
The other English team left in the tournament are priced as outsiders at 28/1 and need to negotiate a quarter-final tie with Manchester City. Spurs will look to Harry Kane to continue the goal-scoring exploits that made him the 2018 World Cup’s top scorer. Their last European success came when they defeated Anderlecht 4-3 on penalties in the 1984 UEFA Cup Final.
Who will win this year’s Champions League? It is fairly easy to make a case for several of the big names left in the tournament, with Ajax and Porto the other teams we haven’t covered here, also still in with a chance. Whatever happens, the final in Madrid will likely be another hugely memorable night of dramatic European football.