With the Champions League making its long-awaited return to action on Friday night, Europe’s premier tournament is really starting to take shape as the quarter-finals get underway in midweek.
Watching both Manchester City and Bayern Munich make their own statements over the weekend, the ‘final eight’ includes a string of European heavyweights all looking to write their own piece of history.
Now featuring a new format that will see all remaining fixtures contested in a one-off game, the action will get underway on Wednesday night when Atalanta take on Paris St-Germain out in Lisbon.
Ahead of this summer’s final out in Portugal on August 23rd, who are the bookmakers’ favourites to lift Europe’s most lucrative prize later this month?
Manchester City – 11/5 with 888sport
Finishing off the job on Friday night after their famous first-leg turnaround out in the Spanish capital back in February, Manchester City picked up a notable scalp at the Etihad and are now seen as the bookies’ favourites to lift their first European crown this summer.
Picking up an identical 2-1 victory over the weekend and handing Real Madrid their first Champions League knockout tie defeat over the past decade, Pep Guardiola’s side have all their eggs in the European basket after relinquishing both their FA Cup and Premier League titles this season.
With City’s iconic coach failing to lift the European title since his days with Barcelona back in 2011, the Sky Blues now find themselves as the only English representatives still in this summer’s tournament.
Still breathing a huge sigh of relief after having their two-year Champions League ban controversially overturned last month, City will now turn their attention to a Lyon outfit that really upset the odds on their European return on Friday night.
Coming past newly-crowned Serie A champions Juventus thanks to away goals in what was an action-packed 2-2 affair over two legs, there is no doubt that City have been handed a favourable draw against a French side that have only made two competitive appearances since the Ligue 1 campaign was brought to an early halt back in March.
Bayern Munich – 3/1 with Unibet
While Manchester City might be seen as the leading pick with the bookmakers in the race for European success this summer, there is no doubt that Bayern Munich really made a statement on Saturday night.
Eventually breezing past Chelsea at the Allianz and building off of that stunning 3-0 romp at Stamford Bridge prior to the enforced break, the German giants marched towards a 7-1 aggregate win and Bayern appears to only be going from strength to strength.
Marching on a domestic silverware sweep and now in the midst of a remarkable 18-match winning run across all competitions, many feel that Hans-Dieter Flick has assembled the most stacked squad from across the continent.
In fact, after securing their stunning victory at the Allianz on Saturday, the Bavarians have won each of their last eight Champions League appearances on the bounce and became just the second side to achieve that feat since Barcelona in 2003.
Confirming what is set to be a heavyweight showdown against Barcelona out in Lisbon on Friday night, a record-breaking Robert Lewandowski could be the difference in Bayern lifting their first Champions League crown since the 2013/2014 campaign.
Bagging his 52nd and 53rd strikes of the season against Chelsea over the weekend, the Polish marksman was a leading contender to lift this year’s Ballon d’Or before it was scrapped.
Even more impressive, Bayern’s MVP also has 13 European goals to his name in this year’s extended tournament, seven more than any player still competing this summer.
PSG – 5/1 with 888sport
While PSG might have been handed another Ligue 1 title after seeing French football brought to an early finish back in March, fans around Paris know that they must secure European success if they’re to really move onto the next level.
Seeing off Borussia Dortmund what feels like a lifetime ago in a dramatic turnaround 3-2 aggregate win in the capital, the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Mauro Icardi certainly have the firepower to topple any of the ‘final eight’.
Marking their return to competitive action last month and lifting the Coupe de France thanks to a penalties victory against fellow quarter-finalists Lyon, Thomas Tuchel’s men now turn their attention to what could be a lively contest against Champions League dark horses Atalanta on Wednesday night out in Portugal.
Remarkably failing to reach a Champions League semi-final since way back in 1995, the French giants have already gone one step further than they have managed over the past three years.
Throwing away the lead in shock fashion against Manchester United at the Parc des Princes last year, the former Borussia Dortmund boss had previously seen his side crash out at the round of 16 stage in each of their previous three attempts.
Knowing that the PSG hierarchy are demanding a piece of European silverware to show for the enormous amount of money they have pumped into the club since taking over back in 2011, is this the year that Les Parisiens end their Champions League duck?
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