Man City conquerors early contenders for Champions League glory

It was a familiar tale of woe for Manchester City on matchday one of the Champions League, but the Citizens may find a nugget of consolation much later in the season when they realise they lost out to the eventual winners.

Without the aid of a time machine, it’s a very bold claim to crown Juventus as European champions after a single winning performance, but even at this embryonic stage of the competition, the Italians could be a wondrous bet at 18/1.

It’s worth remembering that last season’s beaten finalists were the big outsiders from a semi-final line up containing Barcelona and Bayern Munich on the other side, while Real Madrid were widely expected to end the Serie A side’s ‘plucky’ run before Berlin.

Yet, the Galacticos were defeated and it was only the last quarter of their grand finale against Barca in which the biggest prize of all slipped away, thanks to the attacking wizardry of Luis Enrique’s treble winners.

It’s also worth noting that the mainstay of the current Juventus side which defied expectation last season, were chasing their own equivalent treble.

Of the top five leagues in Europe (Spain, Germany England, Italy and Portugal according to UEFA’s coefficient) not one side coming into this season’s competition can claim to have been crowned as domestic champions four times on the spin.

It’s true that Juve have endured a faltering start to Serie A this time around and that a few influential figures jumped ship in the summer, though Andrea Pirlo is perhaps at last past his sell-by date and new striker recruits Mario Mandzukic and Paulo Dybala have hit the ground running.

Arturo Vidal is a potentially big loss, but skipper Gianluigi Buffon proved against City that he is still a match winner between the sticks, even at 37, getting down in cat-like fashion to deny Raheem Sterling at a pivotal point in proceedings.

Keeping hold of Paul Pogba is also a massive tick in the plus column of this bet, as the Frenchman once again justified the hype with a consummate performance engineering one counter attack after another in Manchester.

The most impressive element of the lot other than two beautiful finishes by the front men, though, was the tactical nous displayed by Max Allegri.

The manager’s containing, counter-punching gameplan was expertly carried out by his troops.

This tactical awareness in Europe only comes from a deep run in the competition, and while their collective hunger for another Serie A title may be on the wane slightly, Juve look like genuine contenders for old big ears again.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Christian Crowther

Give Christian a sport with anything remotely spherical in it and he’ll happily while away the hours watching it on the box. However, he’d much prefer writing about, playing or betting on golf, football, cricket, tennis, snooker.... you get the picture.