The Champions League group stages begin in September 17th. This is a look at who has the best odds to win their respective groups and the tournament as a whole.
The final 32 participants were separated into groups on Thursday, and there are some interesting ties for fans to look forward to. Defending champions Bayern Munich will be favorites, with teams like Barcelona and Real Madrid also strong contenders.
The odds will be based on the overall strength of the sides involved and their recent history in the competition, both group and knockout stages. It's a bit easier to determine odds in the group stages using the past group stages, but that changes in the knockout rounds.
For example, should Bayern Munich be the team with the highest odds of progression in the Round of 16 and quarter-finals, its because they would be the favoured team in any match-up during those rounds. The further into a competition a team goes with quality opponents, the less likely they are to progress.
The 2013/14 Champions League season will be an exciting one, so let's take a look at who has the best odds of success.
|Manchester United||Shakhtar Donetsk||Bayer Leverkusen||Real Sociedad|
Manchester United and Shakhtar Donetsk will be expected to progress from this group, but it won't be easy. David Moyes gets his first taste of the Champions League and couldn't have asked for a trickier group.
Still, the quality and experience of the English and Ukranian clubs should come through in the end. Whether they end up first or second is another matter.
Bayer Leverkusen and Real Sociedad have an outside chance of progression and can certainly make the group a tight one. Bayer Leverkusen's more recent European experiences give them the advantage in making it to the Europa League.
|Real Madrid||Juventus||Galatasaray||FC Copenhagen|
Real Madrid and Juventus are the obvious favourites here, and despite a tough trip to Turkey, they should both ease into the knockout rounds.
Galatasaray will not fear the two big sides, but the Europa League is the Turkish club's most likely destination. FC Copenhagen will rack up the most losses in the group, though they could give Galatasaray a little fight for that third spot.
Group C presents another set of obvious knockout round candidates, with Paris Saint-Germain and Benfica. The star-studded French side should nab the top spot, with the solid Portuguese club behind them.
Olympiakos and Anderlecht are two teams with pedigree. Currently, they are no match for these sides and will battle it out for the third spot.
That will be a tighter race than the one at the top, and the Belgian side has a decent shot at continuing its European journey in the Europa League.
|Bayern Munich||CSKA Moscow||Manchester City||Viktoria Plzen|
Bayern Munich will go through this group as big favourites, though they will be wary of Manchester City and CSKA Moscow.
The Russian club could certainly grab the second spot if Manchester City isn't careful, and that will be the most interesting story of this group.
City should make it to the knockout rounds this year, just beating out the Russian club in the process. Viktoria Plzen could try to spring a shock or two, but not much will be expected from the minnows of the group.
|Chelsea||FC Schalke||FC Basel||Steaua Bucharest|
With Jose Mourinho back in charge, Chelsea will certainly progress from this easy group to the knockout rounds. Schalke will be expected to follow them.
FC Basel and Steaua Bucharest will battle it out for third place in what should be a straightforward group. Basel has the potential to be a tricky opponent for both the favoured sides, and a trip to Romania won't be easy either.
The "Group of Death" this season consists of Borussia Dortmund, Arsenal, Napoli and Marseille. All these teams can potentially progress to the knockout rounds.
Borussia Dortmund, and the seasoned Arsenal will be slight favourites, but Napoli and Marseille will have plenty to say about who goes through.
The French side is the weakest of the bunch, but this group is completely open.
|FC Porto||Atletico Madrid||Zenit St. Petersburg||Austria Wien|
Group G will be another tight group, though Porto FC and Atletico Madrid look favorites right now. Zenit St. Petersburg has Champions League pedigree and will be tough opposition.
In the end, the Portuguese and Spanish clubs should progress, though Zenit St. Petersburg is certainly capable of getting into the knockout rounds. Austria Wien may play a role in hindering one or two of these clubs' ability to progress.
Barcelona are clear favourites for this group, though there won't be one easy tie for the Spanish club. AC Milan are the most likely runners-up in a group full of historical clubs.
Ajax and Celtic could certainly pose a threat to the top two sides, but they are most likely vying for a spot in the Europa League.
Given the odds presented in the group stages, the participants in the Round of 16 will include these teams.
Group A: Manchester United, Shakhtar Donetsk
Group B: Real Madrid, Juventus
Group C: Paris Saint-Germain, Benfica
Group D: Bayern Munich, Manchester City
Group E: Chelsea, FC Schalke
Group F: Borussia Dortmund, Arsenal
Group G: Porto, Atletico Madrid
Group H: Barcelona, AC Milan
While we don't exactly know who will get who in the Round 16, we can put forward odds for progression based on the strength of those likely to be involved.
Juventus and Manchester City are the two second place teams that are most likely to progress, if they get the right opponent. With that in mind, here's the odds for progression to the quarter-finals for these 16 teams.
The Round of 16 may have its surprises, but the clubs with top managers, top players and experience should expect to progress given the opposition at this stage.
The quarter-final participants would then include; Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Borussia Dortmund, Juventus, Manchester United and Manchester City.
It's very likely that at least three of the same semi-finalists from last season will return to that stage. Here are the odds for the semifinal stage of the competition.
Jose Mourinho gives Chelsea a real edge in this competition, while the Spanish giants and the defending champions have a good chance of progression. Again, this is before any knowledge of who will face who and is based on the fact that one team would be favoured over another should they be paired.
We get down to four teams with only one manager who has failed to win this competition. Gerardo Martino's Barcelona side should progress far on talent, but they will most likely fail at the semi-finals hurdle again.
It will be a tightly contested semi-finals, but the odds are in favour of Real Madrid and Bayern Munich facing off in the final. It will be Real Madrid picking up its tenth Champions League title in the end.
The odds for the two clubs in the final are virtually even because of the strength of the squads, their experience and the coaches involved. In the end, Cristiano Ronaldo proves the difference in a historical win for Real Madrid.