As we head towards the end of the group stage of the Champions League for this season, it does not look like there are going to be any major casualties missing out on the last 16 of the competition. All the major clubs are on course to qualify for the knockout stages of the tournament which will begin in early 2017.
Let’s take a closer look at the main contenders to lift the Champions League trophy on June 3 at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
On paper, no team in the Champions League this season has a squad with as much quality in it as Barcelona. The Spanish giants boast a front three of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez, three of the best forwards on the planet.
Barcelona are the 10/3 favourites, at the time of writing, in the Champions League outright market with the bookmakers. They look a solid bet to go all the way this season but before backing the Catalan club for glory, have a look on Oddschecker for the best odds and free bets on offer in the Champions League this season.
Luis Enrique’s side look set to top their group, which should give them a favourable draw in the last 16. Their sole defeat so far in the competition came at the Etihad Stadium where they were beaten 3-1 by Manchester City. They did win the reverse fixture 4-0 at the Nou Camp to give themselves a better head-to-head record over the English side, though.
Bayern Munich are second best in the betting at 7/2 to win the Champions League this season. However, the German club have not made the start they would have been expecting to. Carlo Ancelotti’s men have already been beaten twice in their campaign and will have to settle for second place in their group behind Atletico Madrid.
Despite the early defeats, Bayern have to be respected in the tournament. All the teams which won their group will be desperate to avoid them in the last 16 as they are capable of beating anybody on their day.
Robert Lewandowski has missed games through injury this season but once the striker resumes to full fitness, it will give Ancelotti a real boost. They Bayern squad is still full of real quality and includes Arjen Robben, Renato Sanches, Manuel Neuer, Thomas Muller and Frank Ribery.
The German side are also not having it their own way so far in their Bundesliga campaign, where they currently sit second in the standings, three points behind RB Leipzig. It may only be a matter of time before they click again domestically and in Europe though, so they remain key contenders to lift the Champions League trophy once again.
No team in the history of the Champions League has been able to successfully defend their crown in the competition. Real Madrid will be hoping they can become the first side to do that this season with back-to-back success.
The holders are currently in second place in Group E, two points behind leaders Borussia Dortmund. Real need to beat the German side in the final game of the group stage if they are to qualify in the top spot, otherwise they will go into the last 16 draw in the second pot and could face a tricky game in the next round.
With Cristiano Ronaldo, James Rodriguez, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale in their ranks, Real are one of the most feared teams in Europe. They currently top La Liga ahead of Barcelona, Sevilla and Atletico Madrid respectively and will be hoping for more silverware in the 2016/17 campaign, including in Europe’s premier European competition.