The UEFA champions league is the biggest club competition in soccer (or football if you live outside the United States) and is also one of the most watched sporting competitions in the world; the 2021 finals garnered about 275 million viewers globally, as confirmed by UEFA.
The champions league is also gaining more audiences in the US. According to Nielsen, 2.76 million Americans turned in to watch the 2022 finals game between Real Madrid and Liverpool on CBS. This record-breaking figure surpassed the 2011 final between Barcelona and Manchester United on Fox for most UCL finals viewership in America. It also represented a 23% growth in TV audience over 2021’s final between Chelsea and Man City.
As soccer continues to grow its fanbase in the United States, we analyzed the teams who have the best shot at winning the 2022/23 season.
The 2022/23 UEFA champions league season kicks off in September, and as usual, there are several preseason favourites. Manchester City and Paris Saint Germain are both searching for their first-ever championship on club soccer’s biggest stage. Last year’s winners, Real Madrid, hope to add more silverware to their already historic cabinet. Bayern Munich and Liverpool could yet again make a deep run, at the very least, while Barcelona and AC Milan would be looking to regain their status as one of the competition’s biggest clubs.
Here are the latest soccer odds on the UEFA champions league as we approach the group-stage draw:
Who are the Favourites?
As it has been over the last few years, English Premier League clubs Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea, and Tottenham are all among the top contenders. They’re joined by Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid. Italian clubs Juventus and Inter Milan make the top 10; no Italian team has won the champions league since Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan in 2010.
PSG and Bayern Munich are also betting favourites, and make up the top 10 as the only French and German clubs, respectively. Bayern Munich last won the champions league in 2020, during the lockdown.
Here are the outright winners for the 2022/23 UEFA champions league season, according to FanDuel:
Man City (+270)
Bayern Munich (+750)
Real Madrid (+1300)
Inter Milan (+2900)
Atletico Madrid (+4200)
RB Leipzig (+4200)
AC Milan (+4400)
Borussia Dortmund (+5000)
Eintracht Frankfurt (+8000)
Bayer Leverkusen (+10000)
Red Bull Salzburg (+12000)
Sporting Lisbon (+12000)
Favourite: Man City (+270)
Man City are yet again the outright favourites to win the champions league and it’s hard not to concede to this. They’ve completely dominated English football, winning four out of the last five EPL titles.
But it is the Cityzens’ champions league woes that continue to mar Pep Guardiola’s legendary spell at the Etihad. Man City have made it to at least the semis three times in the last four years, including a trip to the final last year, but have fallen short in the biggest moments. This might be the season they rewrite this reputation.
Man City has reinforced its squad this season with the signing of arguably the most sought-after young talent, Erling Haaland. The Norwegian who is never tired of scoring could be the difference-maker for the Cityzens if he can at least replicate his form in the last three years.
Many critics have argued that past Man City teams were built majorly for domestic silverware and not continental. But the addition of Haaland and a few other signees could finally lead the blue side of Manchester to champions league glory. Then there’s Pep Guardiola, who is also searching for his first European title since leading Barcelona to a 3-1 win over Manchester United at Wembley (2011).
Sleepers: Barcelona (+1300), Tottenham (+1800)
It was only a few years ago when Futbol Club Barcelona took European championship dominance to a whole new level. But their glory years appear to be far behind them now, and last year’s early group stage exit proved just that.
Xavi was appointed head coach mid-season and appears to have steadied the boat on what for sure looked like troubled waters. Barcelona finished second in the La Liga standings and would hope to improve on that this season.
The Catalan giants have been busy throughout the summer with hopes of winning the champions league; something they haven’t achieved since 2015. The Blaugrana have made drastic changes to last season’s squad, bringing in superstar striker Robert Lewandowski from Bayern Munich. Barcelona won the battle for Raphina and Jules Koundé’s signature, fending off competition from Chelsea. They also brought in ex-AC Milan midfielder Franck Kessie and former Chelsea centre-back Andreas Christensen.
Then there’s Ousmane Dembele who agreed to a new deal that will keep him in the club until 2024 and looks eager to stamp his footprints in the hearts of Barça fans. With these new signings and an array of elite young players in Gavi, Pedri Gonzalez, Ansu Fati, and Ronald Araujo, Barcelona not only look like title contenders again but a team that will flourish in the future as well.
Spurs, on the other hand, could not keep the front-line duo of Harry Kane and Son Heung-min but also signed Dejan Kulusevski on loan from Juventus and Brazilian forward Richarlison from Everton. Tottenham makes a trip to the champions league for the first time since the 2019/2020 season and could make a deep run under experienced head coach Antonio Conte.
Overhyped: Chelsea (+1400)
While Tottenham might be gaining lots of momentum this season, their city rivals find themselves in a challenging situation and will have to scrape through it to make their mark domestically and in Europe. Thomas Tuchel’s side has had to endure a host of departures and quite an unfruitful transfer window.
The Blues are currently without Antonio Rüdiger (Real Madrid), Romelu Lukaku (on loan to Inter Milan), Andreas Christensen (Barcelona), Malang Sarr (on loan to Napoli), and Timo Werner who returned to his former club, RB Leipzig. Chelsea may have signed Raheem Sterling from Manchester City, Kalidou Koulibaly from Napoli and Marc Cucurella from Brighton & Hove Albion, but these recent additions don’t seem to click, at least at the moment.
Christian Pulisic seems lost in Tuchel’s incessant 3-4-2-1 playing style and has been relegated to the manager’s sub-list. Mason Mount and Kai Havertz, meanwhile, don’t look to be in sync with each other.
Until the Blues get it all together, it’d be difficult for oddsmakers to see them as one of the topmost contenders. However, they still have what it takes to at least make it past the group stage in hopes of a more fruitful January transfer window. Chelsea has sparked surprises over the years in this competition. It remains to be seen if they can do it again.
Lots to prove: Paris Saint-Germain (+650)
PSG have always looked like the club to beat on paper. But that’s all they’ve ever been over the years in this competition — the club to beat on paper. Past PSG teams have crumbled in the moments that mattered the most, especially when having knockout games at the palm of their hands. And last season was no exception.
For a club that boasts Kylian Mbappe, Neymar, and arguably the greatest player of all time Lionel Messi, getting knocked out in the Round of 16 was unacceptable. The fans have seen the Parisians dominate domestically in the last ten years, but are already getting tired of winning only domestic championships.
Rumours of front office disputes, egotistic problems, and of course injuries were contributing factors to their underwhelming last season performance. Both Neymar and Messi struggled to find the same form that once made them one of the deadliest duos in soccer’s history, and it was almost as clear as day that former manager Mauricio Pochettino wasn’t the man for the job.
PSG has since taken up a new identity under new head coach Christophe Galtier, and from their last three games, the new manager has figured out what works best for this team. But until the players can leave their egos aside and cooperate as a true team, there’s no logical way to have them as clear favourites. In the meantime, seeing is believing in Les Rouge-et-Bleu.
UEFA Champions League fixture schedule 2022/23
As it has been for years, this season’s campaign will comprise two parts; the group and knockout stages. The group stage will be contested by 32 teams and will conclude earlier this year than in previous years due to the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. The knockout phase, on the other hand, will resume in February.
The 2022/23 final has been slated for June 10 at the Atatürk Olympic Stadium in Turkey. Here’s the schedule for the 2022/23 season:
Group stage Draw
August 25, 2022
Group Stage Fixtures
September 6 to 7
September 13 to 14
October 4 to 5
October 11 to 12
October 25 to 26
November 1 to 2
Round of 16 Draw
November 7, 2022
Knockout Stage Fixture
Round of 16
First Leg: February 14 to 15 and February 21 to 22
Second Leg: March 7 to 8 and March 14 to 15
Quarterfinals and Semi-finals Draw
Mar. 17, 2023
April 11 to 12
May 9 to 10
May 16 to 17
Recapping Real Madrid’s Road to the 2021/22 UEFA Champions League Crown
Of course, every soccer fan knows how the 2022 finals ended. The competition’s most successful club turned back the clock on a deteriorating squad and squeezed their way to their 14th title. Real Madrid had to face some stiff competition en route to championship glory.
In the Round of 16, Madrid saw off a highly stacked PSG team, comprising an in-form Kylian Mbappe, a freshly returning Neymar, and Lionel Messi, who was still finding it difficult to settle with his new club after a shock exit from Barcelona. The Parisians took a 1-0 lead in the first leg of the tournament and appeared to be heading to the quarterfinals with a 1-0 lead in the 60th minute at the Bernabeu. They were, however, made to pay for costly defensive mistakes as an in-form Karim Benzema put three past Gigi Donnaruma to send Madrid through.
Next up were last year’s winners, Chelsea. The Blues lost the first leg at Stamford Bridge 3-0 but appeared to be staging a comeback in Madrid. However, their hopes were dashed when Rodrygo put one past Eduardo Mendy in the 80th minute. Karim Benzema would yet again seal the deal in the first half of extra time as Los Blancos escaped a scare.
Carlo Ancelloti’s men had an even tougher challenge waiting for them in the semis, last year’s runner-up, Manchester City. After a back-and-forth 4-3 encounter at the Etihad, Guardiola’s men were hoping to make a second consecutive trip to the finals. The Cityzens had many chances to take the lead and seal the deal but were unlucky not to convert them into goals.
Riyad Mahrez finally broke the deadlock in the 76th minute, putting Man City comfortably on top. But Madrid yet again showed why they’re the most successful club in this competition. Super-sub Rodrygo netted two quick goals in stoppage time to send the tie to extra time. Karim Benzema then converted a penalty in the first half to send Los Blancos to Stade de France.
The finals match was a rematch of the 2018 finals between Liverpool and Real Madrid, two of the most successful clubs in Europe. The Reds were seeking to avenge their finals loss but were stabbed in the back by a brilliant Vinicius goal in the 59th minute. Real Madrid were crowned champions yet again as goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was named man of the match for yet another stellar performance.
If there were ever any doubts, Los Blancos showed yet again that they’re a different breed when it comes to champions league soccer.
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