The Main Contenders for the 2022/23 UEFA Champions League

UEFA Champions League
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The focus on world football in the last couple of months has, rightly so, been on the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. However, with the dust settling on the first World Cup in the Middle East, the focus is already shifting to domestic and continental matters, including the 2022/23 UEFA Champions League. Manchester City are the heavy favourites with bookmakers to win their first European title this term. Pep Guardiola’s men are priced at just 7/4 with bet365, which is likely due to their favourable last 16 tie with RB Leipzig. Bet365 is one of the three most recommended sites by oddschecker, based on the depth of its sign-up promotions and the choice to utilise bonuses on any sports market, including Champions League outrights.

The competition is certainly viewed as a wide-open this season, City excepted. There are some incredibly tasty-looking fixtures in the last 16, pitting some of the biggest names in European football together at the first stage of the knockout rounds. Using the latest available odds in the outright markets, we look at the teams with the highest probability of becoming champions of Europe this summer.

Bayern Munich

German champions Bayern Munich should never be discounted, and they are deemed second favourites with most bookmakers this term. That’s despite being drawn against French big-spenders Paris Saint Germain (PSG) in the last 16. With Neymar and World Cup-winning Lionel Messi to contend with, it’s something of a surprise to see Bayern tipped to overcome PSG.

Domestically, they have been in imperious form, with just one defeat in their opening 15 Bundesliga fixtures. At this stage, Bayern have opened up a four-point lead over surprise package SC Freiburg, with RB Leipzig a further two points back. Bayern’s goal difference is already a staggering +36, with 49 goals in 15 matches, averaging more than three goals per game.

It’s for this reason that Bayern are considered a better bet for the Champions League than a PSG side that has yet to prove itself on the European stage, the club’s Qatari owners still without a Champions League trophy during their reign. Bayern could also be boosted by the return to fitness of Senegalese front man Sadio Mane, who has estimated early February as a date for return from injury.

Paris Saint Germain

It’s little surprise that PSG are considered third favourites for the Champions League. You only have to look at their star-studded roster of Messi, Neymar and Mbappe to know that this is a squad with trophy-winning potential. When you consider the hundreds of millions spent on the Parisians, this should be expected. Like Bayern, PSG have been domestically dominant so far in 2022/23, winning 14 and losing just one of their opening 17 league fixtures.

Nevertheless, PSG have often flattered to deceive in the biggest moments in the Champions League. PSG fans will be hopeful that the likes of Messi and Mbappe – both fresh from strong showings in the FIFA World Cup final – will be rejuvenated enough to take games by the scruff of the neck for the Parisian giants.

Since Messi’s return to the French capital after celebrating Argentina’s World Cup success, the striker admitted that he had wasted his first season in PSG colours. With Messi seemingly committing himself to the club beyond 2022/23 and into 2023/24, the Argentine will be motivated to earn more Champions League medals.

Liverpool

Liverpool are, surprisingly, considered fourth favourites to win the Champions League, despite Jurgen Klopp’s Reds being woefully out of sorts in the Premier League. The Merseysiders are in sixth place, currently 16 points behind current leaders Arsenal after 17 matches. Liverpool have been increasingly porous at the back, and the departure of Sadio Mane in the summer has been noted in the final third.

Nevertheless, with the Premier League title almost certainly out of reach, Liverpool and Klopp can focus their efforts squarely on a bold bid for another European title. With six European Cups to their name, including two in this millennium, the club has European success coursing through its veins.

The biggest issue for Liverpool is their last 16 opponent – Real Madrid. This could conceivably be a Champions League final, such is the calibre of players on display. This contest is a true coinflip – a contest that could go either way over two legs.

Real Madrid

Liverpool’s last 16 opponents, Real Madrid, could also conceivably roll over the Reds and march towards the Champions League title. Real top La Liga after the opening 15 games, sitting above bitter rivals Barcelona on goals scored.

The biggest bonus ahead of their two-legged clash with Liverpool is that the Reds could be without star centre back, Virgil van Dijk. The Dutch international has sustained an injury that is said to be worse than anticipated, making him touch-and-go for February.

It’s also possible that Real Madrid could have a new face in their ranks prior to their last 16 encounter with Liverpool. England midfield sensation Jude Bellingham is top of Real’s transfer wishlist, with the club looking to broker a £130 million deal with his current employers Borussia Dortmund. Only in his late teens, Bellingham is already a powerhouse, with immense potential to be a midfield general for the next 10-15 years.

Napoli

One of the most surprising inclusions to this list is Serie A side Napoli, although, if you watch Italian football, this addition will be of little surprise to you. Napoli have been the leading club in Serie A throughout the 2022/23 campaign so far. The team has been defensively sound and equally productive in the final third. After the opening 16 games, Napoli are the league’s top scorers.

One of the main reasons why Napoli’s odds are so short at present is their kind last 16 draw against German side Eintracht Frankfurt. Frankfurt find themselves in fourth place in the Bundesliga at present, seven points off the pace of Bayern and hanging on to the coat tails of the likes of SC Freiburg and RB Leipzig. Napoli’s squad, meanwhile, is brimming with top talent, including Nigerian forward Victor Osimhen, who is considered the jewel in the crown.

Such is the open nature of the 2022/23 Champions League that even the sides not mentioned in this article will have a chance of making the big time. Nevertheless, it’s hard to look beyond Manchester City who, with Erling Haaland in attack, look well-equipped to finally land their first Champions League trophy.

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