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Champions League set to return, can Man City retain the trophy?

The 2023/24 Champions League promises to be as exciting as ever, but undoubtedly the team to beat is Manchester City. Here’s a look at the contenders

champions league

The Champions League qualifying rounds for the 2023/24 season are already underway and it won’t be long before the draw for the group stages is being conducted. The European Cup is the pinnacle of the domestic calendar and it’s every footballers dream to lift the trophy at the end of the season. Demand for champions league tickets grows every year and this coming season is expected to be another enthralling competition.

The 2023/24 Champions League promises to be as exciting as ever, but undoubtedly the team to beat is Manchester City. The Cityzens finally got their hands on the cup after years of near misses. Pep Guardiola’s men stormed their way to European glory last season beating Bayern Munich and Real Madrid en route to the final where they edged out Inter Milan in Istanbul. It sealed an historic treble for Man City after they had already secured the FA Cup and Premier League titles.

City favourites

Man City were so dominant last season, it’s no surprise that they are the 2/1 bookies favourites to retain the Champions League this campaign. Now that they have broken their duck on the European stage, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Guardiola win another Champions League before he eventually leaves the Etihad Stadium.

Things aren’t all positive at City though, as they lost influential midfielder Ilkay Gundogan this summer. The German international has joined Barcelona and he’ll be a huge miss as Gundogan was vital during the closing stages of last season as he captained the club to the treble. Bernardo Silva is also being strongly linked with a move to Spain and is would be a massive blow to lose the Portuguese playmaker. Kyle Walker has reportedly agreed personal terms over a move to Bayern Munich, so Guardiola could lose three important players from his treble winning team.

Obviously they’ll be replaced if they do all leave, but rivals will be hoping City suffer a hangover from their sensational 2022/23 campaign and struggle to replicate their success during the upcoming season.

Bayern strong

Bayern Munich are always among the early-season favourites to win the Champions League and they are once again backed to do well. The Bavarians are the 7/1 second favourites and they are making some impressive moves in the transfer market so they’ll be strong next season.

They’ve already snapped up Lamair and Guerrerro from rival Bundesliga clubs, while they could lure Walker away from Man City. However, the big coup could see Bayern land Tottenham Hotspur star Harry Kane. The England international has reportedly agreed personal terms over a move to the Allianz Arena and is now waiting for Bayern to agree a fee with Spurs. That won’t be easy as Daniel Levy is a tough operator and wants £100m for his talisman.

Tottenham have already rejected a second bid from Bayern worth around £70m. They see that as fair value for a striker who’ll soon turn 30 and has just one year left on his contract, but Levy is demanding more. Time will tell if a deal can be agreed but Kane would be a sensational signing if Bayern Munich could pull it off and they’d have a much better chance of winning the Champions League with Kane up front.

Spanish giants contenders

Real Madrid have unparalleled history in the European Cup and they are once again expected to contend for the trophy this season. Madrid are the 9/1 third favourites and you wouldn’t bet against them reaching another final this year. They desperately need a replacement for Karim Benzema having lost the Frenchman to the Saudi Pro League. One player who has been strongly linked with Kylian Mbappe and Madrid would major contenders if they could land the PSG superstar.

Mbappe has made it clear he’s not going to sign a new contract in Paris and the Ligue 1 champions have publicly said the 24-year-old will be sold this summer if he doesn’t commit his future to the club. There have been sporadic links with the Premier League but Mbappe is widely expected to join Madrid if he does leave PSG this summer. He’d be a sensational signing for the Spanish giants and with Mbappe leading their attack, Madrid would have every chance of European glory again.

However, we cannot discount their arch rivals, Barcelona. The Catalans reclaimed the La Liga title last season and Xavi has build a solid team that are extremely difficult to beat. Barcelona have snapped up Gundogan and could land Bernardo while defender Ingio Martinez has arrived to further strengthen their defence. If Barca could bring in a couple more top class signings, their current odds of 12/1 would certainly shorten.

Finally PSG’s year?

Paris Saint-Germain have been desperately trying to win the Champions League over the years but they always come up short. They tried the ‘Galacticos’ era but not even an attack of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Mbappe could fire them to European glory. Messi has left for the MLS, Mbappe could be off to Madrid and there are doubts over Neymar’s future, too.

PSG are wanting to go down a different route to try and land the European Cup and are hoping to build a strong team spirit rather than a side based around a few individual superstars. That could take time to happen, so it’s difficult to see this PSG side going all the way in the Champions League this season but they are still backed as the 12/1 fourth favourites.

Outsiders

Arsenal are back in the big time after finishing second in the Premier League last season and they are the 14/1 fifth favourites to win the Champions League. They’ve signed Declan Rice, Jurrien Timber and Kai Havertz this summer so Mikel Arteta is building an extremely talented young squad. Winning the Champions League might be a bit too soon for the young Guns but they could surprise a few people and put together a good run in the competition.

Manchester United will also be hoping to make an impression this season after failing to progress past the group stages last year. They’re 16/1 to win the Champions League but unless Erik ten Hag buys a prolific goalscorer, it’s difficult to see United being serious challengers. Serie A champions Napoli could be dark horses, especially if they can keep Victor Osimhen. The Italians have a side packed with quality and nobody will want to be drawn against Napoli this season. Last year’s beaten finalists, Inter Milan, are 25/1 to go one better this season while Borussia Dortmund are also 25/1 but it’s unlikely they’ll be able to go past the semi-finals at best.

It’s promising to be another exciting campaign and it could be one of the most competitive Champions League’s in recent years.

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