It seems too early to be thinking about what might happen at the end of the upcoming football season before a ball has even been kicked, but it was a surprise to see Manchester City priced as low as 4/1 to win the Champions League. The majority of bookies have the English champions as clear favourites to lift the trophy at the end of May in Istanbul, with Barcelona being offered at 6/1 and Liverpool, Real Madrid and Juventus all a bigger price.
Yes, City are regular winners with one of the best managers and squads in World football, and they have the money at their disposal to strengthen their team before the end of the transfer window. However, their short price is strange and not at all tempting when they haven’t even reached a final before. In contrast, Liverpool have been in the past two finals, adding a sixth European Cup to their impressive collection at the beginning of June.
City’s domestic treble last season established them as the most formidable team in the country, but the title was won by just a single point ahead of Liverpool, and when the two sides went head-to-head in the Champions League two seasons ago, Liverpool triumphed in emphatic fashion.
Pep Guardiola is rightly regarded as one of the best coaches around, but he was hired because of his European football expertise, yet his last Champions League final was in 2011. Jürgen Klopp has been to three finals since then, claiming the title at the third attempt.
New City signing, Rodri, made the bold claim that Manchester City are amongst the most feared teams in Europe, whilst also admitting Liverpool were up there too, but in terms of the fear factor and especially after what happened to Barcelona at Anfield in May, Liverpool are surely the opponents that the rest of Europe’s elite clubs will want to avoid next season.
Perhaps the bookies think that City will be solely concentrating on the Champions League, trying to add that elusive trophy to their recent list of honours; whilst maybe Liverpool will prioritise the league title after a 30-year hiatus that has seen them go close, but still they have not won the Premier League.
City’s billing as Champions League favourites, as they were last season, reflects what a smooth operation they have become over the last three seasons, and it is surely only a matter of time before they do conquer Europe.
But last season, Man City and Liverpool were comfortably the best teams in the Premier League, and few expect the coming season to be any different, which makes it even stranger that the bookies think the Champions League story will be so different.
Perhaps Liverpool’s longer odds reflect the unlikelihood of them reaching a third final in successive years, which is fair enough, but City’s small price is unusual when the clubs experience of reaching Champions League finals is even smaller.