It might still be early doors in the Champions League, but the first legs of the round of 16 indicated which teams are looking to ramp up their European campaign and pose a genuine threat to Real Madrid’s dominance over the last half decade.
From Manchester City winning in dramatic fashion to Liverpool’s tentative draw at home against Bayern Munich, there are still so many ups-and-downs to come before the final in May.
Here, in order of best betting value, are the contenders you should put your money on to win the 2018/19 Champions League.
Real Madrid - 9/1
Manchester City - 5/2
Barcelona - 10/1
Atlético Madrid - 9/1
Bayern Munich - 10/1
The reigning champions might have overcome Ajax away from home, but their overall performance was considerably lacking the glitz and glamour that fans witnessed under Zinedine Zidane’s reign.
Although he was entering his final years, Cristiano Ronaldo’s presence in Los Blancos’ team has been sorely missed this season – both on the field in terms of goal contributions, but also from a mentality point of view.
Real are more than likely to progress into the quarter-finals – offered at 4/7 to beat Ajax at the Bernabeu with Bet365 – but they might come unstuck if they are faced with world-class opposition in the form of Barcelona or Bayern Munich.
The core of the team, especially Sergio Ramos, will not let the standards slip out of control, but there has been a clear – and worrying – difference in this year’s team compared to how they were fending off their opponents last season.
Saying that, Real are the perfect knockout tournament team and will do absolutely everything within their power to win. Which is exactly why outside odds of 9/1 with Betfair are so enticing.
Arguably England’s best chance of a team winning the top-tier European competition this season, Pep Guardiola’s players showed true grit to come through their away fixture with the all-important win.
They might have had a red card which dented their chances when falling behind to Schalke, but the Citizens came back against odds of 100/1 to score a crucial winning goal minutes before the final whistle.
City have no prior experience of reaching the Champions League final and have been rather understated in their approach of conquering Europe, but Guardiola’s squad is deep enough to challenge on all fronts.
The Spanish manager might continue to downplay his side’s chances of going all the way, but with Sergio Aguero in ruthless form, it will be difficult to stop them in their tracks.
Barcelona might have been involved in scoreless draw against Lyon in the first leg, but they have shown in La Liga that they are a force to be reckoned with.
Ernesto Valverde’s players might not have featured in the deep waters of the Champions League for a number of years, but it is impossible to rule them out when Lionel Messi takes to the field.
Barça are more than likely to see out the second leg comfortably in Camp Nou and will be poised to make a statement in the quarter-final, whoever they are matched up with.
With exceptional talent all over the pitch, Valverde’s men should be feeling confident enough to go toe-to-toe with any team that comes their way between now and May.
The Spanish giant’s problem, however, is a lack of defensive cohesion at times which has cost them dearly.
Possibly going slightly under the radar this season with their recent history in the European competition, the time might just be right for Barcelona to stamp their authority over others left in the tournament.
Barça are 5/1 to lift the Champions League at the end of the season with BetVictor.
Perhaps the most surprising outcome from all of the European ties in the past two weeks was Atlético Madrid’s 2-0 win against Juventus in the Spanish capital.
With most predicting it would end in a draw and go to the wire, Diego Simeone delivered a tactical masterclass once again and now takes an incredibly healthy lead into the away leg in Turin that they will defend for their lives.
Unsurprisingly, Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez were on the scoresheet, reinforcing the idea that Atletico’s defenders are the most important players on a Simeone team.
⚽ After beating Juventus 2-0 in the First Leg, Atlético Madrid have had their odds of winning the Champions League SLASHED— Bookies UK (@bookies_uk) February 21, 2019
📈 From 25/1 to 8/1
🤔 Has everyone underestimated Diego Simeone and co.?#UCL#AtleticoMadrid
Defending excellently and diligently, Ronaldo and co. barely got a look in, especially in the second half, with it all to do in the return fixture.
Atletico have previous of reaching the final of the Champions League, only for their arch nemesis Real to thwart them twice over.
With a battle-hardened approach, it is difficult to look past the Madrid-based club on reaching, at the very least, the final four.
Simeone’s men are 7/2 to be eliminated in the semi-final, while they are an outside bet with Paddy Power to win the trophy at 9/1.
Bayern Munich’s tie might be up in the air with Liverpool, but how they nullified Jurgen Klopp’s ferocious attack spoke volumes in their quality at the back.
With their imperious form at the Allianz Arena, and good form making up ground on title rivals Borussia Dortmund, Niko Kovac’s players will be more than confident that they can knock out Liverpool in the second leg.
Their squad might be an ageing one and in desperate need of some rejuvenation, but their experience might be telling in the latter rounds.
Robert Lewandowski has eight goals to his name in Europe this season, more than any other player In the Champions League, and will be a constant threat when Bayern play with more swagger and adventure in Munich.
They might not be everyone’s favourites, but they are certainly well worth considering when weighing up who might win this season’s Champions League.
Bayern are priced at 10/1 with Ladbrokes to be crowned European champions this season.