The boys have been separated from the men in the 2020 UEFA Champions League (UCL) as we head into the knockout phase of the competition. The last 16 beckons as the best teams go about the business of strategizing for the two-leg affair. Interestingly, last 16 will only feature teams from the top five European leagues namely; England, Italy, Germany, Spain and France. All the usual favourites have made it to this stage of the competition. There are some tantalising matches on the card before the ultimate tie in the 2019/2020 season.
Historically, even the best managers have talked about game management as the finest margins count. Therefore, it is the teams that turn up on the day that will advance to the latter stages. Who knew that Barcelona could overturn a whopping 4-0 deficit in 2017 to eliminate PSG after a 6-1 thrashing in the return leg? This is PSG we are talking about. They are eight time French Champions and not some lowly ranked team from the less fancied tier of European football.
Can Liverpool, Jurgen Klopp reach out a club record third consecutive UCL final and retain the title? Is this the year for Pep Guardiola to finally break even in Europe and lead Manchester City to the trophy that the leadership at the Etihad Stadium crave? Is this the year for PSG to break their knockout jinx that has haunted them? To better understand their chances, we will look at some power rankings heading into knockout round.
For the Old Lady, the project to bring Cristiano Ronaldo to Italy in 2018 involved the prospect of winning the Champions League. After a false start last season, the team has reinforced with the addition of arguably the best 19 year old player last season; Matthijs de Ligt. They also added the likes of Aaron Ramsey to boost the midfield dynamism. Matchbook have Juventus as 59/5 to win it. On paper, the team looks stronger than in 2018 even though results dictate otherwise. Unibet have an offer for new UK customers only. Once you Bet £10, you’ll receive £30 in free bets + £10 casino for a minimum deposit of £10. Don’t just take chance, click here and learn everything you need about Champions League betting.
#4 Real Madrid
The Spanish giants have won four out of the last six UEFA Champions League titles. Losing Ronaldo last season had a significant impact to their European pedigree. Instead of resting on their laurels, the senior figures at the Bernabeu sanctioned moves for five big money players at the cost of about €307.50m. The biggest signing was Eden Hazard, a proven winner alongside top scorer Karim Benzema who could be the difference when it comes to getting the team over the line. Bet365 have tipped Madrid at 18.00 to be crowned champions once again.
An abundance of talent best describes the eight-time French champions. However, they have fallen short when it mattered over the last couple of years. Some of the potential gaps have been sealed this season such as the over reliance on Neymar and lack of defensive cover in the midfield area. They acquired the services of Idrissa Gueye to protect the back four and Ander Herrera who can both do the dirty work. The duo make the team look stronger and that is why Skybet have the team at 15/2 to win which is an indication of a more compact side.
The current league leaders and Spanish champions strengthened in the summer by bringing in the youthful Luke De Jong and Antoine Griezmann who makes the attacking trio alongside Lionel Messi and Luiz Suarez look unstoppable. The Catalans gave Inter Milan and Borrusia Dortmund a clean pair heels in what was expected to be a tighter group. Skybet has them at 11/2 to clinch the title with Messi again heavily tipped to lead the scoring line at 20.00 by William Hill.
What makes the reigning champions the odds on favourites is their front three of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino. The team has opened an unprecedented 11 point lead at the top of the Premier League. With Virgil Van Dijk at the back, they have looked even stronger. It is little wonder that in 2019, they have clinched the Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and more recently, the FIFA World Cup. Bet365 and Skybet both have The Reds at 9/2 to retain their title. The team is red hot and there is no signs of them slowing down.