In the sixty years of the European Cup/Champions League, English clubs have, for want of a better word, “bombed”. Despite the Premier League being regarded as one of the toughest leagues in the world, its annual representatives often falter when it comes to beating the best Europe has to offer.
Yes, we can look back to the eighties and the days when Liverpool dominated the European Cup, as it was known back then, but recent years have seen our clubs underperform in the Champions League. If we brace ourselves and breakdown the stats, English clubs have won 12 titles. Although not a poor result, things look decidedly less impressive if we take our record from 1992 onwards (when the European Cup changed to the Champions League): just four wins in 24 years.
When you contrast this modern record with clubs from Spain and Italy, things start to look even worse. Indeed, since 1992 the Spanish have celebrated 10 wins while the Italians have notched up five wins. The one saving grace in all this is that England still has one more win than Germany, but overall the recent run of results is disappointing to say the least.
Could this be liable to change any time soon? Could we find a winner from the current crop of Champions League contenders in the Premier League? Let’s take a look at the current Champions League betting form and see if there’s a serious threat to Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich this season:
Finalists back in 2005/2006, Arsenal are perennial contenders in the Champions League, but haven’t managed to get more than a few inches away from the cup for more than a decade. Back when Wenger’s men were ripping through the Premier League, Europe’s finest simply couldn’t deal with the mighty Gunners. Indeed, it was only two goals from a Barcelona side featuring Samuel Eto’o, Ronaldinho and Henrik Larsson that managed to put an end to the London club’s Champions League dreams.
For the past six seasons, the Round of 16 has been Arsenal’s limit, and this time around it will probably be much of the same. Despite a perfect record in the group stages, a 1-1 draw against PSG was a sign that Arsenal still have a tough time against the top teams.
Yes, it’s great beating FC Basel and Ludogorets without conceding, but it all counts for nothing if you can’t do the same against the leading sides. Sun Bets currently has Arsenal ranked as the 5/6 joint favourites with PSG to make it through the group stages which certainly looks like a fairly safe bet right now. However, at 20/1 for the outright win, it seems as though it will be another case of close but no cigar for the Gunners this season.
If we gave you 5,000/1 on Leicester City winning the Champions League this season then you’d probably be willing to take it thanks to the Foxes’ Premier League last season. However, if we really look at the odds and form, it’s highly unlikely Claudio Ranieri’s men will shock the world again.
For a small club like Leicester City, just being in the Champions League is an achievement, but that fact hasn’t overwhelmed the players. A 3-0 win in their opening game against Club Brugge was followed up by a 1-0 win over Porto in week two. That positive momentum then translated into a 1-0 win at home against Kobenhavn: a result which has made the club a shoe in for the knockout stages.
Indeed, at 3/20 to qualify from the group there’s not much room for a profit on a small stakes bet, but that’s about as good as things are likely to get for the Foxes. Even if the group results don’t go to form, and certain clubs don’t come out on top, Leicester City fans will still be sweating on the Round of 16 draw.
PSG, Arsenal, Barcelona, Man City, Atletico Madrid, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and more could all be potential opponents. Whichever way you slice it, Leicester will have a tough task in the knockout rounds. Of course, miracles can and do happen, but this year it seems 40/1 on an outright win is about right.
According to some, Manchester’s light blue army are England’s biggest hope of a Champions League success story this season, but so far the results don’t reflect that. Despite running hot in the Premier League, Pep Guardiola’s players have struggled to find their form in Europe. In fact, a postponed match against Mönchengladbach is probably the club’s best result so far.
A 3-3 draw against Celtic has since set the tone for a disappointing campaign that’s also seen City’s faithful forced to watch Barcelona give their heroes a 4-0 thrashing. However, where there’s a will and some money, there’s often a way, and few would argue that Manchester City have the quality to turn things around.
If Guardiola can inspire the likes of Aguero and Sane to reproduce their Premier League form in Europe, then there’s some serious betting value in City. 11/1 to win Group C and 12/1 to win the competition overall are by no means a shot in the dark. Although the latter has more potential than the former at this stage, these sorts of prices are uncommon for Man City and that makes them all the more attractive.
Like Leicester City, Spurs aren’t exactly veterans when it comes to the Champions League. However, despite a losing start against Monaco, things haven’t been too bad for the London club. A 1-0 win over CSKA Moscow was followed by a goalless draw against Bayer Leverkusen to put Tottenham in with a shout of making the knockout stages.
Of course, once the Lilywhites make it through the group stages things will get exponentially tougher, but don’t count them out. So far Spurs haven’t lost in the Premier League, and with 13 goals for and just four against, the side have shown they know how to eke out results.
While this defensive strategy will certainly be tested against the like of Barcelona, the 40/1 odds on a Tottenham Champions League win certainly looks tempting. In fact, if there’s one club that could surprise us all this season its Spurs. Yes, it may still be a long shot, but it’s by no means impossible.
So, looking through the teams, will an English club win the Champions League this season? In all likelihood, probably not. However, if the above quartet can play to their potential and get a few lucky breaks, then 11/2 on the proposition could be worth some consideration, especially if the next few results go the way of our home sides.