Uefa Champions League 2013
The UEFA Champions League restarts in February with the first legs of the last 16 ties on the 12th and 13th. The shock early exit of reigning European Champions Chelsea along with Premiership Champions Manchester City has weakened the British challenge and bookmakers have been offering odds of 11-1 about any British team winning the competition this season.
That price may not deter loyal supporters of Manchester United, Arsenal or Celtic after Chelsea defied the odds to lift the trophy in May 2012. The draw appears to have given the remaining British teams a very difficult task to progress to the quarter-final stage. Manchester United face Real Madrid in arguably the tie of the round, whilst Arsenal play Bayern Munich and Celtic meet Juventus.
The clash between Real Madrid and Manchester United brings together two of the most revered managers in the game. Jose Mourinho and Sir Alex Ferguson were great adversaries when the Portuguese supremo was in charge at Chelsea and he has been linked with replacing Sir Alex at Old Trafford one day. The match will also mean that Cristiano Ronaldo will play against his old club for the first time since his transfer to the Spanish giants. With United currently leading the Premiership table, you would expect them to be confident going into the last sixteen but the bookmakers rate them as 14-1 to lift the trophy this year. Real Madrid are only 4-1 to taste Champions League glory.
Arsenal’s prospects of winning the competition are even more remote if the bookmakers odds are to be believed. There are as high as 40-1 after being handed a draw against last year’s beaten finalists Bayern Munich. Arsenal will play the first leg at the Emirates and will have to produce one of their best European displays if they are to give themselves a chance of reaching the quarter-finals. Celtic surprised tournament favourites Barcelona in process of reaching the last 16 and have been drawn against Juventus. The Italians effectively knocked Chelsea out of the competition at the group stage, a result that led to the sacking of coach Roberto Di Matteo.
Despite their defeat against Celtic, Barcelona progressed with relative ease and remain hot favourites at 9-4 in the Champions League betting. They have been drawn against AC Milan with the first leg at the San Siro. The two sides met in the group stages and again in the quarter-finals last season with the Spanish side going through 3-1 on aggregate. Lionel Messi was the difference between the sides, scoring twice to send Barca through to the semi-finals.
German champions Borussia Dortmund face Shakhtar Donetsk who impressed during the group stages whilst Schalke play rank outsiders Galatasaray. Ligue 1 side Paris St Germain play Valencia and Malaga meet Portuguese champions Porto. There are individual markets on every match in the Champions League plus a host of other betting opportunities including top goalscorer, top British side and nationality of the winning team. Cristiano Ronaldo has already scored six goals in the Champions League this season and is one ahead of odds-on favourite Lionel Messi entering the knock out stages. The final of the competition will be held at Wembley Stadium on May 25th.