Celtic’s 3-0 victory in the first-leg of their second qualifying round match with Northern Ireland’s Cliftonville declared the British interest in the Champions League officially open.
However, there’ll be few punters brave enough to back them at 300/1 to lift the famous trophy come the end of the season, even at this early stage. Navigating the second leg should be a formality after claiming three away goals, but they still have another round and a playoff to hurdle before they reach the group stage.
Bayern Munich, the unstoppable force of 2012/13, have been elevated to the team to beat on the continental stage this term, with the arrival of Pep Guardiola no doubt a key factor in contributing to their short-price 7/2 favouritism.
A more interesting punt at this stage, while their odds remain high, is Juventus.
At 16/1, the Old Lady certainly have an air of good value about them. They’ve been improving with every season under Antonio Conte and have made some excellent signings to improve their weakest area by bringing in Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente.
Scoring goals was a huge problem for the Italian club last time around, with only one of their four recognised strikers getting into double digits.
Still, without any fully functioning goal machine, they managed to record some massive results en route to the Champions League quarter finals. A comfortable win over then holders Chelsea was bettered only by their 1-0 victory over Shakhtar at the Donbass Arena – a place where only Barcelona had previously prevailed in Europe’s elite competition.
Their 4-0 two-legged defeat at the hands of Bayern in the last eight looked fairly emphatic, yet the mess the Bavarians made of Barcelona in the next round proved there was nothing shameful in that. The additions they’ve made mean they’ll be better placed to trouble the frontrunners once they enter the ring.
Furthermore, since 1985, there’s only been one period longer than four years when an Italian club has not got their hands on the most coveted piece of silverware in club football.
It’s undoubtedly a lot to ask of Juve to go and lift the trophy in such a competitive field, but their price seems especially fair and shouldn’t be ignored.
All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date