Who are the favourites to win the 2022-23 Champions League?
The group stage of the 22-23 UEFA Champions League gets underway with a handful of teams having a realistic chance of lifting the trophy in Istanbul next June.
The latest instalment of the UEFA Champions League group stage kicks-off this evening with 32 sides competing across eight groups. Given the staging of the 2022 Qatar World Cup which commences on 20 November, the group stage games will be condensed into a two month window with matches coming thick and fast.
Despite 32 aspiring sides, the economics of modern football suggest that a potential winner in the competition realistically hails from a small elite number of clubs, but such is the magic of the competition and the game of football, that each year throws up its surprise packages as we saw a few years ago with Ajax almost going all the way in 2019 and just last year as Villarreal reached the semi-final stage of the competition.
As things stand, these are the five favorite teams to lift the trophy next June with the final game scheduled to be staged at Istanbul’s Ataturk Olympic Stadium.
Pep Guardiola’s side have never managed to win the European Cup or its current Champions League incarnation and went closest in 2021 when a solitary Kai Havertz goal was their undoing against Chelsea in Portugal.
Since the club was taken over in 2008 by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s Abu Dhabi United Group (ADUG), City have been regular contenders in the competition and despite their dominance in the Premier League, the Manchester side have been unable to replicate this success at European level with Guardiola’s side falling at the semi-final stage last season losing to eventual champions Real Madrid.
This season, (as many before), the ‘Sky Blues’ start as favourites for many with the summer acquisition of Erling Haaland offering added firepower to the City attack.
Guardiola’s side are pitted in Group G along with Borussia Dortmund, Sevilla and FC Copenhagen with the Premier League odds-on favourites to top the group.
Another club who have seen their fortunes transformed thanks to the investment from the Middle East with the club being acquired by the Qatari Sports Investments (QSI) in 2011.
The Parisian side have enjoyed dominance in Ligue 1 winning eight league titles under the Qatari owners but it’s the holy grail of the biggest prize in European football that continues to elude the Parc des Prince club.
PSG did come close in 2020 when the reached the final of the covid-19 ravaged competition but fell short in the final losing to Bayern Munich 1-0 in Lisbon.
It’s hoped that the attacking trident of an aging Leo Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe have enough firepower to terrorise defenses as PSG look to progress from Group H where they are pitted alongside Juventus, Benfica and Maccabi Haifa.
Despite an indifferent start to their domestic campaign, Jurgen Klopp’s side are third favourites to lift the trophy in June. The fact that the final is being staged at the scene of one of the most stunning comebacks ever in a UCL final will added only to serve as an impetus for fans of the club who still hold fond memories of that famous May night in 2005.
The Reds’ bid to secure European Cup No. 7 starts in Naples as they face the Serie A side in the Group A opener. Glasgow Rangers and Ajax Amsterdam are the other sides in the group where Jurgen Klopp will hope to count on the goal scoring prowess of new Uruguayan striker Darwin Nuñez who was so impressive for Benfica last year on the European stage.
Every season without fail, the German giants are always in the mix when it comes to tipping favourites for the Champions League as the Bundesliga side look to equal AC Milan on 7 trophy wins.
Despite being unbeaten in their opening five Bundesliga games this season, the Bavarians are currently third in the table behind surprise package SC Freiburg and Borussia Dortmund in second place.
The opening games of the season suggest that they have managed to put the departure of Robert Lewandowski behind them in racking up 17 goals in their five games with new recruit Sadio Mane already establishing himself as a fab favourite for the Bayern faithful.
Bayern are in a competitive Group C alongside FC Barcelona, Viktoria Plzen and Inter Milan with the first game of the campaign being a tricky away trip to San Siro.
This season, Real Madrid embark on a journey to win their 15th European crown. An incredible feat from the undisputed ‘Kings of Europe’ who grabbed victory from the jaws of defeat countless times last season treating fans to roller coaster rides of emotion in knock-out games against PSG, Chelsea and Man City on their way to the final.
A solid start on their domestic campaign where Ancelotti’s men have won 4/4 in LaLiga coupled with a favourable group where Madrid are expected to progress alongside Celtic, RB Leipzig and Shakhtar Donetsk should see ‘Los Blancos’ comfortable in the Round of 16.
Despite the exit of the likes of Casemiro, Bale and Isco over the summer months, Madrid have reinforced well with both Antonio Rudiger and Aurélien Tchouaméni looking like solid acquisitions. In Eduardo Camavinga the club also have a potent midfield replacement for the likes of the ageing Kroos and Modric with the only question mark hanging over the forward line with no real solid replacements should the likes of Benzema or Vinicius get injured.