The Champions League is the ultimate competition in club football, and every once in awhile, there is a team that comes out of nowhere to become challengers. Just last season there was both Tottenham Hotspur and Ajax in the last four when very few punters would have given them a chance before the competition. While ultimately both sides fell short, it does allow other teams to believe that they can reach the latter stages despite not being fancied by the bookmakers.
Of course, Barcelona, Manchester City and Liverpool make up the early favourites with STS to challenge for the biggest honour at the end of next season, but punters could look elsewhere to get the ultimate value for their money. Let’s take a look at some of the teams that could present excellent value in the 2019-20 season.
Atletico Madrid (Currently 26.00 with STS)
It has been a whirlwind summer at the Wanda Metropolitan as Diego Simeone looks to rebuild his squad into a team that is capable of performing on the biggest of stages. Simeone himself has the pedigree in this competition, as he has already led Atletico to two Champions League finals in six seasons; something that was an unthinkable prospect before his arrival at the club.
Granted, the club have lost crucial players in the form of Antoine Griezmann and Rodri over the summer months to Barcelona and Manchester City respectively, as well as allowing Diego Godin to leave on a free transfer to Inter Milan. But, they remain a street-wise team under Simeone that can flourish in Europe. The Argentine manager sets his sides up defensively in European action and then counters; with the addition of Joao Felix, this will likely remain how they approach European fixtures. The additions of Kieran Trippier, Felipe and Mario Hermosa will add the stable backbone that they need in defence to utilise this tactic, and should they get to the later rounds; nobody will want to come up against them.
Borussia Dortmund (Currently 34.00 with STS)
It was an excellent first season in charge for Lucien Farve at Dortmund, but eventually, his young squad fell just short in their aim to dethrone Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga. Their end of season form derailed their hopes, and the age of their squad could have proved pivotal in that. However, the youngsters will be back again next season, and they could be about to make shockwaves across Europe.
Dortmund have managed to keep hold of one of the most highly-regarded teenagers in the world in Jadon Sancho, and despite losing Christian Pulisic, they still have Marco Reus. The German is the new captain at Dortmund, and after overcoming a series of injuries, he looked back to his best at the end of last season. Their free-flowing style of play which has been adopted under Farve has made them one of the most exciting teams in Europe to watch, and with the defensive pairing of Mats Hummels and Dan-Axel Zagadou, they should be reliable enough at the back. The signing of Julien Brandt from Bayer Leverkusen could also prove to be one of the signings of the summer if he realises his potential at Dortmund. They could be an underdog to win the Champions League in 2019-20.
Tottenham Hotspur (Currently 21.00 with STS)
Last season’s beaten finalists were one of the surprise packages in last year’s Champions League, and this year they could go one better. Mauricio Pochettino has added to his squad over the off-season with the arrival of Tanguy Ndombele from Lyon, and he was just the kind of player that the club were missing last season. The energy that he brings from midfield in winning the ball and making passes through the lines was something that Spurs were crying out for in the final. Combine that with the fact that they haven’t sold any crucial member of their squad, and they could be serious contenders.
They certainly rode their luck in getting to the final last season, as they were hugely fortunate to get out of the group stages and needed VAR to save them from defeat against Manchester City; but their squad remains young, and the experience of playing in the final will undoubtedly give them the craving to go one better next season. Although they had fortune favour them in reaching the final; they also had bad luck. They were forced to play an unfit Harry Kane in the final after he was injured midway through the season. However, should they keep Kane fit for the duration of the 2019-20 season then there isn’t any reason why they can’t shock the footballing world once again.
Real Madrid (Currently 9.00 with STS)
It may seem strange to see Real Madrid in an article talking about potential shocking Champions League winners, but in truth in 2019-20, they would be. They endured a torrid campaign in 2018-19 as they struggled to deal with the loss of Cristiano Ronaldo, and the 2019-20 season begins with the same questions hanging over Zinedine Zidane’s squad. They were humbled in the Champions League by Ajax in their own backyard, and the return of Zidane to Madrid could be the answer. In truth, the season didn’t get much better with his arrival as they stuttered towards the finish line in La Liga. But the Champions League-winning manager will be given time to turn things around.
However, whether they endure another turbulent season will largely depend on how their new signings settle into life at the Bernabeu. They have spent big this summer bringing in Eden Hazard, Luka Jovic and Rodrygo. How Zidane manages to build his team will be crucial, but there is a significant step-up in performance level needed for them to be among discussions of potential winners. Zidane has the pedigree to mould this team into what he wants and for that reason; Madrid are at a marvellous price before the season starts. Should they begin the season strongly then the price of them winning the Champions League will be slashed, so punters must take an early gamble on things going right in Madrid. They are certainly a team to keep an eye on.
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