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.