Champions League outlook and favourites

April 13, 2012

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Champions League outlook and favourites

As Jose has told us, Barcelona are ‘super-favourites’ to win the Champions League, but just in case the Portuguese genius is playing a little game with us all, footballinsight thought it was high time we looked into the runners and riders of possibly the greatest sporting show on earth, or at least the greatest football tournament we get to see.

Barcelona would be a good place to start, I suppose, as they are a 10/11 favourite with Ladbrokes to emerge as champions, as for good reason. As much as the Catalan side have not quite hit the heights this year they look solid, their squad has more depth and rotational potential, and they also possess a goal scorer the like of which has not been seen before.

Leo Messi is 1/10 to finish as top goal getter, and when you think of the runs Mario Gomez of Bayern and Real’s Ronaldo have gone on it is clear there can’t really be much debate left as to how good little Leo is. Pele said this week you couldn’t compare Messi to him until the Argentine was better than Neymar, proving once and for all that the old master shouldn’t really be allowed to speak in public anymore, but if any team is going to beat Barca they must contain Messi.

Chelsea have the unenviable task of doing that first, and they will take on Barcelona in the midst of a difficult run of fixtures. The fitness of John Terry is being monitored closely, but for me it will be David Luiz who deals with the Catalonian threat if anyone does, as the former England captain is just not quick of foot or mind enough to match Messi and co in open play. At 12/1 Chelsea are rank outsiders to win this cup, at least leaving them in a relatively pressure-free situation if not boding well for the semi.

In the other game Bayern and Real duke it out in a massively mouth-watering tie, a game that combines everything a European night should. Madrid are 5/2 second favourites to come out as overall winner of the cup, but overcoming the German giants is no easy task, and Bayern are just as capable of being clinical on the counter as their royal rivals can be.

If the Germans have one issue to deal with it is the form of Frank Ribery. Bookies have them at 5/1 to win the tournament outright, and in Mario Gomez they have a very hot striker, but Ribery is a key part of their play and his form this year has been poor. The arrival of Shaqiri from Basel in the summer may spell the end of an era for Bayern and the Frenchman, but they’ll both be hoping for a Champions League swansong from the cultured playmaker.

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