Favourites Barca start in style
The pre-tournament favourites for the Champions League Barcelona got their campaign off in style as they thumped Celtic 7-0. A Lionel Messi hat-trick as well as a brace from Luis Suarez and goals from Andres Iniesta and Neymar saw Luis Enrique's men lay down a real marker. Barca won the competition for the fifth time in 2015 and they will be desperate to regain the trophy that their bitter rivals Real Madrid won last season.
Speaking of Real, they were far from impressive in their opening group game with Portuguese side Sporting as they required a late, late floury to take all three points. Sporting looked like causing an upset after Bruno Cesar put them 1-0 up just after half time but it was not to be for Jorge Jesus' side. A stunning free-kick from former Sporting man Cristiano Ronaldo in the 89th minute drew Real level before Alvaro Morata's 94th minute winner sealed the points for the holders.
The two big rivals from La Liga have won the last three Champions League titles between them and they are firmly amongst the frontrunners to do so once again this season. Barcelona are the favourites and going by how they played against Celtic, it is for good reason. The Catalans are widely available at 3/1 to win the tournament although over at Paddy Power they are available at a slightly better price of 11/4. Real on the other hand are priced best at Bet365 at odds of 11/2. No side has ever successfully defended the trophy in the modern era so perhaps that is part of the reason why Real find themselves slightly further adrift.
Bayern Munich are in-fact priced ahead of Real and find themselves as the second favourites for the competition behind only Barcelona. They much like Barca, got off to a flying start in the first round of fixtures. They thrashed Russian side FC Rostov by five goals to nil in their first game in the competition under the tutelage of Carlo Ancelotti. The Italian is one of only two managers to have won this trophy three times after two successes with AC Milan and another with Real Madrid. Bayern have regularly been in the last four in recent seasons although they last won the competition back in 2013. If you fancy them to break the recent Spanish dominance of the trophy, Ladbrokes have them at 4/1 to be crowned champions.
So what of the English teams I hear you cry?! Well in the eyes of the bookmakers, the only realistic contenders for the competition from these shores are Manchester City. With Pep Guardiola now in-charge, City look an all-together more daunting prospect in this competition. They are priced at a seemingly generous 11/1 to go all the way with Skybet, although it is well worth noting that they have been placed in the same group as Barcelona. The other English sides are considerably longer shots, with Arsenal best priced at 28/1, Leicester at 55/1 and Tottenham at 66/1.
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