Ucl Uefa Champions League : Draw, Preview and Odds – Groups A-c
A look at the teams, as drawn for the first group stage of this years UEFA Champions League (Groups A-C). Can Barcelona retain their title? Will big spending Real Madrid be able to buy success? Will the dominance of the four English clubs continue, or will new entrants Wolfsburg be able to mount a challenge?
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For groups D-F, click here.
For groups G-H, click here.
Bayern Munich (25/1)- The German team qualified for this years Champions League via a second placed finish in the Bundesliga. New manager Louis Van Gaal has been charged with bringing silverware back to the Bavarian club for the first time since the departure of Ottmar Hitzfeld, and has already added some Dutch influence to the side with the capture of Arjen Robben. Bayern have not won the Champions League since 2001, and start this year as joint eighth favourites.
Juventus (25/1)- The most successful team in Italian football begin the Champions League competition as joint eighth favourites with Bayern. After a torrid couple of seasons which saw them briefly relegated to Serie B, Juventus are once again challenging for major honours, finishing last season as Serie A runners-up. Manager Cero Ferrara has been in charge of The Old Lady since the second to last game of last season; a season which saw Juve eliminated from the Champions League in the knockout rounds at the hands of Chelsea.
Bordeaux (66-1)- The current French Champions begin this campaign as joint sixteenth favourites, a damning indictment on the state of domestic French football. Bordeaux have never won the Champions League, indeed their greatest moment in European football was a runners-up spot in the 1996 Uefa Cup. Bordeaux are managed by French international legend Laurent Blanc, and have a first team of predominantly homegrown players, many of whom are unknown outside of their home country.
Maccabi Haifa (750/1) - The most successful team in Israeli football, and current Israeli Champions, are twenty-ninth in the betting ranks, with truly massive odds of 750/1 of lifting the cup. Manager Elisha Levy and his almost exclusively Israeli side have had to qualify for the group stages with wins against Glentoran FC, FC Aktobe, and a play-off match against FC Salzburg.
Manchester United (7/1) - The English Champions lost last seasons Champions League Final 2-0 to Barcelona, and begin this season as fourth favourites to lift the trophy. The Red Devils were weakened over the summer with the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo – tipped to be this years top scorer in the competition - and have made an indifferent start to their domestic campaign. Alex Ferguson’s team have lifted the Champions League trophy three times, twice under the current manager.
CSKA Moscow (100/1)- Russian side CSKA Moscow are 20th in betting for this seasons Champions League. They qualified this year by virtue of a second placed finish in the Russian Premier League. CSKA are another side built around homegrown players, although they are managed by a Brazilian in Zico. They have never won the Champions League, although they had a taste of European success in 2005, winning the UEFA Cup.
Besiktas (100/1) - The Turkish side find themselves level with CSKA in betting, at 100/1 to win their first major European Honour. Current Turkish Champions, Besiktas have an almost exclusively Turkish squad and are currently managed by former Turkish international Mustafa Denizli.
Wolfsburg (50/1)- Wolfsburg are the current german Champions, after winning their first ever Bundesliga title last season. That win ensured qualification for this seasons Champions League – and Wolfburg’s first ever participation in this competition. Despite being the reigning German Champions, they are 50/1 to lift the Champions League trophy – their odds double that of Bundesliga runners-up Bayern.
AC Milan (25/1) – Seven time winners AC Milan are joint eighth favourites to lift their eighth Champions League title. AC qualified for this years tournament via a third placed Serie A finish, behind both Juve and winners, and local rivals, Inter. After the departure of long serving manager Carlo Ancelotti, the Italians have been under the stewardship of Brazilian Leonardo – long time employee of the club as both a player and technical director. AC boast a number of the Italian national side amongst their squad, along with four players from their managers homeland, and will be gunning for a third final appearance in five years.
Real Madrid (5/1)- The Spanish giants were the talk of the summer, embarking on a massive spending spree which took Cristiano Ronaldo, Xabi Alonso and Kaka to the Bernabeu. New manger Manuel Pelligrini said of his purchases “If we want to win the Champions League and be the best team in the world, we need the best players in the world”. This big-spending ambition has resulted in Real Madrid, the record nine time winners, being installed as 5/1 second favourites to lift the cup this year – despite not having won the trophy since 2002.
Marseille (80/1)- The French side are joint eighteenth in betting, their chances somewhat diminished by the draw which sees them needing to eliminate either AC Milan or Real Madrid to progress. Marseille were the runners-up in last years French Ligue 1, meaning entry to a third consecutive season of Champions League football. Their cosmopolitan squad has a heavy African influence, although their new manager, Didier Deschamps is French through and through. ‘The Water Carrier’ is tasked with bringing European glory back to Marseille for the first time in nearly twenty years.
FC Zurich (500/1)- Zurich lie twenty-eighth in betting, with truly astronomical odds of 500/1. The Swiss Super League Champions defeated NK Maribor and FK Ventspils in the second and third qualifying rounds to reach the group stages proper. Their predominantly Swiss side will have hoped for an easier draw than AC Milan and Real Madrid – a team who subjected Zurich to one of their heaviest ever European defeats in 1963/4.