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The UEFA Champions league
is the world’s most prestigious club competition which is watched by millions of people worldwide. The UEFA Champions League is purely European and is contested by teams from top division leagues across Europe like EPL, Serie A, Ligue 1, La Liga and the Bundesliga.
The UEFA Champions League formerly known as the European Cup was officially launched in the 1955/56 season as a 16 team tournament but has grown significantly over the years and it now features a total of 78 clubs from the preliminary stage right up to the group stages.
The UEFA Champions league is an annual tournament which officially starts in June with the preliminary stages where teams battle it out for a berth into the group stages of the competition. It is important to note that not all teams take part in the preliminary stage, there are teams who automatically qualify for the group stages based on the position they finish on in their various leagues.
The teams that finish as Champions automatically qualify for the UEFA Champions League group stages. In highly ranked leagues like the EPL , Serie A and La Liga, the teams that finish in the top four will participate in the Champions League with the top three getting an automatic entry and the fourth placed team going through the preliminary route.
The group stage matches are played between September to December where teams are grouped into eight groups of four teams where they play each other in a round robin format. At the end of the group stages in December, the top two sides in each will qualify for the knockout whilst the third-placed team is relegated to the UEFA Europa League. After a long break, the Champions league commences in February up to May when the final is usually played at a venue selected almost two years in advance.
In the last 16, two teams play each other home and away to determine which team will qualify for the quarter finals. If teams have the same number of points, away goals rule will be put into play, if they are still tied, they will proceed to extra time or even penalty shootouts and this applies to the quarter finals and semi finals as well. Quarter-finals and semi-finals are played over two legs as well. The final takes place in May and n advance so it is possible that a team can play a final in its home stadium.
Real Madrid are by far the most successful club in the history of the Champions League, winning it a record 13 times and they have also done the unthinkable, winning it three times in a row under the tutelage of Zinedine Zidane from 2015 to 2018.
Some of the greatest players to play in the UEFA Champions league are Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldinho, Lionel Messi, Samuel Etoo and of course Cristiano Ronaldo who is the only player to win it five times.
Th 2018/19 UEFA Champions League season was an unforgettable one for a lot of reasons, firstly it was the first time the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) was used and who can forget the drama caused by VAR when Manchester City hosted Tottenham Hotspur for a quarter final match at the Etihad Stadium. The introduction of VAR was a huge success because despite some few controversies, the football fraternity welcomed VAR.
UEFA Champions League Predictions
In a season where many expected the likes of Barcelona, Juventus, PSG or Real Madrid to lift the title, people were surprised by a vibrant and youthful Ajax Amsterdam team which knocked out both Real Madrid and a Juventus team led by Cristiano Ronaldo. Barcelona themselves were one foot into the final because they went to Anfield with a healthy 3-0 lead and it seemed to everyone that the fixture at Anfield was a mere formality only to be shocked by a Jurgen Kloop team who were rampant in their 4-0 win in one of the memorable matches of the Champions League. The Reds went on to beat Tottenham Hotspur to lift their sixth title in an exciting all-English final.
Before the start of the season, teams like Barcelona, Real Madrid, Juventus, Liverpool and Machester City were considered favourites to win the Champions League but they have made an indifferent start to the current campaign to this season, Real Madrid have only one point from their first two matches, On the other hand Juventus, Barcelona and Liverpool have also dropped valuable points. Punters mostly bet on 3 way odds, BTTS, Number of goals and Goalscorers.
Manchester City 13/4
Manchester City are the odds on favourites to win this edition of the UEFA Champions League because in Pep Guardiola, they have probably the best manager in the world and their squad oozes class throughout, Jose Mourinho even said that their reserve team will make the EPL top 4, surely such a team must be considered for the UCL title. The only true reason why Manchester City have not won the title is probably because their do not have a history in this tournament as history has proved to have a major impact in this tournament but there surely must come a time where this Manchester City squad will make their own history. If Kevin De Bruyne stays fit, he will most certainly push this Man City squad to try and lift the Champions League because he is the heartbeat of this Manchester City side.
A squad comprising of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Antoine Griezzmann and Ousmane Dembele has to be tipped to win any competition they take part in, be it the Primera Liga, Copa Del Rey or even the Champions League. Barcelona should have probably won it last season but they capitulated at the Anfield Stadium where they threw away a 3 goal advantage to lose 4-3 on aggregate. Barcelona has not been convincing in their first two games but obviously a team like Barcelona should be able to easily qualify for the knockout stages.
Liverpool, the reigning UEFA Champions League champions are strong favourites to retain their title because they have managed to keep their squad intact and they seem to have carried on from where they left of last season. The UEFA Champions League is a difficult tournament to win back to back but Real Madrid have proved that it is doable, winning it three times on the trot. Their front three are very dangerous and they are free scoring, they also have a compact midfield and probably the best defence in Europe marshalled by Virgil Van Dijk.
Slavia Prague 750/1
Slavia Prague are untouchable in the Czech Republic top division but they fall shot when it comes to the UEFA Champions League probably because there is a huge gap between the Czech League and the other leagues who participate in the Champions League. What makes their situation is the fact that they are in one of the most difficult groups which has Inter Milan, Borrusia Dortmund and Barcelona. It is very difficult to see how they will survive this group, they might even struggle to land a Europa league spot.
It is probably harsh to say that Genk are in the Champions League to make the numbers but that is the reality. This season they are even struggling in their domestic league and the last thing they wanted was a group which has the likes of Liverpool FC, Napoli and Red Bull Salzburg. So far they have just managed a draw and they need to pull up their socks if they are to get entry into the Europa League.