Liverpool – 18 time Champions of England and six time Champions of Europe after beating Tottenham 2-0 in Madrid last season.
The question is: can they defend their title? Real Madrid went three consecutive seasons as European Champions before Liverpool lifted the trophy. Prior to the Madrid dominance, you would have to go back to 1990 for the last team to retain the trophy – namely, Milan.
Needless to say, it’s no mean feat to keep hold of the Champions League trophy. Do Liverpool have what it takes? And who’s best placed to stop them?
The group stage
First and foremost, Liverpool have to reach the knockouts. This was especially tricky last season, when they were drawn in Group C alongside PSG and Napoli. Fortunately, it should be a bit easier this time around.
The draw for the group stage of the Champions League took place at the end of August, with the Reds drawn against Napoli, RB Salzburg and Genk. Despite the inclusion of Napoli, who managed to beat Liverpool in Italy last season, this group should be relatively straightforward.
What the bookies think
There are all kinds of different odds and offers available through bestbettingsites.co.uk, along with a Betsafe review. However, by and large, the bookies have Man City as roughly 3/1 favourites for the Champions League. They’re followed by 5/1 Barcelona and then Liverpool at 6/1.
Under Pep Guardiola, there’s no doubt City have become difficult to play against – whether it’s because of their dominant possession and passing or just their tactical fouls. However, Guardiola has also developed something of an Achilles’ heel in Europe.
After lifting the trophy twice in four seasons with Barcelona, his Munich side were knocked out in the semi-finals in three consecutive seasons before moving to Man City. In three seasons with City, he’s failed to get further than the quarter finals, knocked out by Monaco, Tottenham and of course the mighty Reds.
Barcelona are always amongst the favourites, regardless of how well or badly they’re doing domestically. However, in recent years, they’ve failed to meet the same high standards. The days of Iniesta and Xavi have gone, leaving the Catalan giants dependent on their front line, particularly last season.
The arrival of Vidal last year, and more recently Frankie de Jong, could go some way to rectifying this – not to mention Antoine Griezmann adding even more threat up front. Despite seeing them off last season, Barcelona could be the biggest threat in 2019-20.
Outside the favourites, there’s also the likes of Madrid, PSG, Juventus and Munich to contend with. Despite Ronaldo and Neymar at Juve and PSG, respectively, Munich could be the dark horses from these contenders. Since their last European success in 2013, the Germans have replaced ageing Robben and Ribery with Coutinho and Perisic. Alongside the likes of Lewandowski, Muller and of course Manuel Neuer, they could be a force to be reckoned with this season.
What about the Reds?
As well as looking at the opposition, it’s important to consider Liverpool’s team. Klopp has seemingly taken the approach of “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it”, with no significant additions to the squad.
That’s fine in some positions, with Matip and Gomez interchangeable in defence and the likes of Milner on hand for midfield back up. However, if multiple key players pick up injuries as the fixtures stack up, the Reds could be in trouble.
All that said, they managed to beat Barcelona in last year’s semi-final, with both Firmino and Salah unavailable. So, maybe we could be on for some more magical European nights at Anfield…