The 2017/18 Champions League season will be the 63rd running of European club football’s premier competition.
Previously known as the European Cup, the current Champions League name has been used for each of the previous 25 seasons and will continue into this season. Last season the final was held in the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff.
The 2017/18 Champions League final will be held at the NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine. The stadium has a capacity of just over 70,000 people and it is sure to be a sell out for the show-piece occasion.
Real Madrid is entering as the defending champion and became the first club to retain the Champions League in the current format. If they are to go on and win the competition this season, they will be the first team since Bayern Munich in the 1975/76 season to win the European Cup/Champions League three times in a row.
2016/17 Champions League Final Highlights: Real Madrid vs. Juventus
Real Madrid will start its defense of the Champions League in Group H along with Borussia Dortmund, Tottenham Hotspur and APOEL.
On the face of it, this looks like a tough group for Real Madrid but when you look back at their second half performance in last season’s Champions League final and the way they defeated Manchester United in the European Super Cup this season, you realise what a great team they have.
In addition to last season’s regular starting XI, they have Marco Asensio, Dani Ceballos and Jesus Vallejo coming through as young players pushing for a starting place. Add to it that Isco has been in incredible form making the loss James Rodriguez a second thought. Zinedine Zidane’s team must be regarded as favourites to win this group and can be backed at 2/5 with bet365.
APOEL will struggle to pick up points meaning second place is between Borussia Dortmund and Tottenham Hotpsur. Don’t forget, Borussia Dortmund finished above Real Madrid last season and while they have lost Ousmane Dembele, they have recruited well and kept Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Tottenham must play their home matches at Wembley, which has already proven to be a problem.
Borussia Dortmund is coming in at 8/11 with online bookie bet365 to qualify from the group.
Moving to Group A and Manchester United will very happy with the draw. They have been grouped with Basel, Benfica and CSKA Moscow. While both Basel and Benfica have caused the Red Devils problems in previous campaigns, they seem set to do well this season.
Jose Mourinho’s men also have the experience of winning the Europa League last season to fall back on, which should stand them in good stead for this season.
The battle for second place will be interesting and both Basel and CSKA Moscow have the potential to take points off teams at home but may struggle on the road. Benfica has the strongest team of the three remaining sides and can be backed at 1/2 to qualify from the group with Manchester United 4/11 to win the group.
Group B will be very interesting as it contains Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich, Celtic and Anderlecht. However, they can be no doubt as to the two teams who will qualify from this group as PSG and Bayern Munich have by far the strongest squads.
The only question mark will be which of these teams will finish top of the group. With the addition of Neymar, Dani Alves and Kylian Mbappe, PSG might just have the edge over the German champions and is available at 19/11 to win the group. Bayern is on offer at 4/5.
Group C could pan out in much the same way as Group B. Atletico Madrid and Chelsea should prove too strong for Roma and Qarabag. The main question mark is which of the two teams will progress as group winners?
Atletico Madrid has been excellent in recent Champions League campaigns and have the edge over Chelsea in that respect. They also have the more settled team and should do enough to finish top of Group C. Atletico Madrid is 11/8 to win the group, which makes for a good bet.
2016/17 Champions League Highlights: Real Madrid vs. Atletico Madrid
Moving on to Group D and this contains two giants of European football with Juventus and Barcelona facing off to decide who will win the group. Olympiakos and Sporting Lisbon cannot compete with these two teams and will be playing for a place in the Europa League.
Barcelona has lost Neymar and Juventus has lost Leonardo Bonucci but the latter will probably cope better with their loss. This makes them slight favourites to finish top of the group and you can get 5/6 with bet365 for Juventus to win Group D.
Liverpool will be pleased with their draw in Group E and it would be a disappointment for the club if they did not finish top of their group containing Sevilla, Spartak Moscow and Maribor. The only real threat out of those three teams is Sevilla and Leicester City managed to knock them out of the competition last season.
Liverpool is 4/7 to win the group with Sevilla available at 15/8, both with sportsbook bet365.
Group F could prove to be more interesting than many people think as Napoli, Manchester City, Feyenoord and Shakhtar Donetsk battle to qualify for the round of 16. Manchester City has tremendous attacking options but when Vincent Kompany is not fit, they struggle at the back.
Napoli can take advantage of this and the way they have been playing under Maurizio Sarri suggests they are capable of good things this season. Shakhtar can be a tough team to play against and Feyenoord will also compete against the other teams in the group, possibly picking up points at home against Manchester City and Napoli.
However, Napoli has what it takes to top this group and can be backed at a tempting 13/5 to win Group F with bet365. Manchester City is on offer at 8/15 and you can get 4/1 for Feyenoord to cause an upset and qualify.
Finally, on to Group G, which is the most difficult to call in the 2017/18 Champions League. Monaco has been very busy in the transfer market and it will be interesting to see how they cope without the players they have lost. They may not emulate what they achieved last season but could easily top this group at 5/4 with bet365.
Porto has a wealth of Champions League experience but Besiktas could emerge as a surprise contender having made some good additions to their squad including Pepe and Gary Medel. They defeated Napoli away from home last season and the Turkish champions are 8/1 to win the group with bet365, which may be just out of reach but make a decent bet at 11/4 to qualify for the Round of 16.
2016/17 Champions League Highlights: Napoli vs. Besiktas
Once through the group stages, the Champions League enters the knockout rounds and the forwards will have their eye on the golden boot award for top scorer.
Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid has finished as the individual top scorer for the previous two seasons and is 4/1 to make it three in a row. Lionel Messi has won the award four times individually and once shared, and is available at 11/2 with Robert Lewandowski coming in at 8/1.
The PSG contingent of Edinson Cavani and Neymar make an interesting bet and although much attention will be on the Brazilian, Cavani could benefit hugely from his presence. Cavani makes an intriguing bet 14/1 to finish the 2017/18 Champions League as top scorer.
Moving back to the main tournament and this season there are some truly outstanding teams. PSG has strengthened their starting XI and will be a big threat to make the final. The French club can be backed at 13/2 with bet365. Barcelona can never be discounted and are on offer at 7/1 with last season’s runners-up, Juventus, out at 14/1 making them good value.
However, it’s impossible to ignore Real Madrid. They have kept the same winning team from last season and with a small group of talented younger players pushing for a place in the starting XI, they seem well set to have another run to the final.
Real Madrid is the team to beat and can be backed at 15/4 to win the 2017/18 UEFA Champions League.
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