Champions League 2012: Odds on Top 10 Clubs To Win Next Year's Champions League

James WillisAnalyst IMay 29, 2011

Champions League 2012: Odds on Top 10 Clubs To Win Next Year's Champions League

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 28:  The match ball sits on the turf during the UEFA Champions League final between FC Barcelona and Manchester United FC at Wembley Stadium on May 28, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    Following the magnificent 2011 final which was won by an unbeatable Barcelona team, many people will already start looking ahead to the 2011-2012 competition and its finale at the Allianz Arena in Munich.

    Although the teams for the Champions League proper (Group Stages) have not been fully decided yet, it's not too early to start picking out the favourites for the tournament.

    Barcelona clearly led the way after their recent display that proved just how good they were, but a number of sleeping giants are also expected to awaken in order to challenge the recently established order.

    The two most successful European teams, Real Madrid and AC Milan, should never be written off while there are also a few surprise teams who could be in with a chance of being the "dark horses" of the competition.

Favourites: Barcelona

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 28:  Eric Abidal (R) of FC Barcelona lifts the trophy and celebrates with teammates after victory in the UEFA Champions League final between FC Barcelona and Manchester United FC at Wembley Stadium on May 28, 2011 in London, England.
    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    Past wins: four (1992, 2006, 2009, 2011)

    SkyBet Odds: 5/2

    As mentioned, there's a clear reason that Barcelona are already early favourites for next season's competition.

    The team already contains arguably four of the world's top five players in Andres Iniesta, Xavi, David Villa and Lionel Messi, while Pep Guardiola has a claim to being one of the finest coaches in the world already.

    Even if the rumours of Pep Guardiola leaving the club this summer come true, they'll still be heavy favourites as the club could most likely rope in any replacement they wanted.

2. Real Madrid

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    MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 21:  Joselu (R) of Real Madrid celebrates with Emmanuel Adebayor (L) and Cristiano Ronaldo after scoring Real's 8th goal during the La Liga match between Real Madrid and UD Almeria at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on May 21, 2011 in Madrid
    Denis Doyle/Getty Images

    Past wins: nine (1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1966, 1998, 2000, 2002)

    SkyBet Odds: 5/1

    The most successful team in European history have had to put up with a period of dominance by their rivals, and despite losing out to Barcelona on more than one occasion this season, they have proven that they're still able to compete with the best on their day.

    Real Madrid join Barcelona as the two best teams in Europe by quite a significant margin and despite the best efforts of other European teams, it looks likely to remain that way for another season.

    Could this year though, be the time that Real Madrid finally topple their nemesis in Barcelona though?

3. Manchester United

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 28: Edwin van der Sar of Manchester United shows his dejection after the UEFA Champions League final between FC Barcelona and Manchester United FC at Wembley Stadium on May 28, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/G
    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    Past wins: three (1968, 1999, 2008)

    SkyBet Odds: 7/1

    Having reached the three out of the last four finals, Manchester United are clearly a dominant force in Europe. However, with some of their key players getting older now and Edwin van der Sar retiring, they may not be able to keep performing at the highest level for too long.

    They'll no doubt still be a tough team and compete in Europe, but whether they'll have as good of a chance to win as they have in recent years is unlikely.

    Paul Scholes may yet join van der Sar in retirement, and while they have some strong youth players, United may not have as much success in the tournament next season.

4. Chelsea

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 16:  Chelsea players celebrate after winning the Barclays Premier Reserve League Play-Off Final against Blackburn Rovers at Stamford Bridge on May 16, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)
    Dan Istitene/Getty Images

    Past wins: 0

    SkyBet Odds: 7/1

    They're listed as the favourites to break the curse of no London teams to have won the Champions League and for good reason as well. The club have come strong again since their earlier dip in form in the season, and provided Fernando Torres can find his scoring boots again next season, they could have as good a chance as Manchester United.

    The club will have to settle with a new manager in time for next year's competition though, which could hinder them slightly, but their squad is strong enough for them to go all the way to the final. Even if age does say, it's only one more time.

5. Manchester City

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    MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 23:  Carlos Tevez of Manchester City lifts the FA Cup as team-mate Edin Dzeko(L) films him on his mobile phone during the Manchester City FA Cup Winners Parade at Manchester Town Hall on May 23, 2011 in Manchester, United Kingdom
    Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

    Past wins: 0

    SkyBet Odds: 12/1

    Perhaps surprise entrants at fifth favourites, listed ahead of some far more established teams, but Manchester City began to look much more like a settled team towards the end of the past Premier League season and their FA Cup win proves that.

    Many people are expecting them to open a transfer war chest again this summer, but unless some of their big names leave, then their may not be quite as many new signings at Eastlands as expected.

    Regardless, they could prove to be the dark horses of the 2011-2012 Champions League tournaments, even if their inexperience could hinder them.

6. Arsenal

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 15:  Cesc Fabregas of Arsenal applauds the fans as he joins his team mates in a lap of honour after the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Aston Villa at the Emirates Stadium on May 15, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo
    Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

    Past wins: 0

    SkyBet Odds: 16/1

    Another sorry season for Arsenal fans and despite their strong squad, they once again lacked the killer instinct that could have seen them claim multiple trophies last season.

    Perhaps even more daunting for the club's fans is the recent distance that Fabregas has shown from the club, most noticeably on the final day of the season, when he instead attended the Spanish GP, scarily close to Barcelona.

    The loss of Fabregas would no doubt cost Arsenal, and even with new signings, Wenger will have his hands full trying to teach his team the killer instinct they need to succeed in Europe.

7. Bayern Munich

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    MILAN, ITALY - FEBRUARY 23:  Team of FC Bayern Muenchen line up prior to the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg match between Inter Milan v FC Bayern Muenchen on February 23, 2011 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)
    Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

    Past wins: 4 (1974, 1975, 1976, 2001)

    SkyBet Odds: 16/1

    Perhaps surprising that they're so low on the list, but having suffered a rather disappointing season by their standards, Bayern Munich look like a pale imitation of themselves a year ago.

    Despite reaching the 2010 final, Munich have since struggled to find those same heights and while they should never be written off, they don't look quite ready to compete with Barcelona yet.

    A few more signings and a bit more motivation from the coach, however, and the club could be back at the top and may be seen in their home city of Munich in May 2012.

8. AC Milan

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    MILAN, ITALY - MAY 14:  Players of Milan celebrate winning the Italian Serie A championship after the Serie A match between AC Milan and Cagliari Calcio at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on May 14, 2011 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Dino Panato/Getty Images)
    Dino Panato/Getty Images

    Past wins: seven (1963, 1969, 1989, 1990, 1994, 2003, 2007)

    SkyBet Odds: 18/1

    AC Milan are one of Europe's sleeping giants that were mentioned during the opening slide. The seven-time winners of the competition have arguably been the most dominant force of the Champions League during the 2000s, but as we enter the new decade, a new era has since come.

    The Italian club will understandably be working hard to come back to those glory days, and they shouldn't be written off either.

    While they aren't one of the big favourites anymore, they may still be able to compete as underdogs next season.

9. Inter Milan

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    MILAN, ITALY - MAY 22:  Giampaolo Pazzini of Inter Milan celebrates scoring during the Serie A match between FC Internazionale Milano and Catania Calcio at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on May 22, 2011 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
    Claudio Villa/Getty Images

    Past wins: three (1964, 1965, 2010)

    SkyBet Odds: 18/1

    Winners in 2010 but largely disappointing in 2011 despite reaching the quarterfinals. Inter Milan could well be classed as another sleeping European giant.

    With the likes of Wesley Sneijder and Samuel Eto'o in their team though it's hard to write them off, and provided they hold on to their key players, they could once again prove a tough team to beat.

    They have the experience to go all the way, and if Leonardo can put some belief into the squad again, then they could surprise people next year.

10. Porto

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    DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 18:  FC Porto players pose with the Europa league trophy during the UEFA Europa League Final between FC Porto and SC Braga at Dublin Arena on May 18, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.  (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
    Scott Heavey/Getty Images

    Past wins: two (1987, 2004)

    SkyBet Odds: 20/1

    Understandably, the dark horses of the 2011-2012 competition but provided they hold on to Andre Villas-Boas as their manager, they could raise a few eyebrows.

    The problem with the club is if they do end up selling their star players who earned much attention during their successful Europa League campaign this past season.

    Having last won the tournament in 2004 under Jose Mourinho, it would take a minor miracle for them to do the same in 2012 under Villas-Boas, but that's what fairy tales are all about aren't they?