The 2020/21 Champions League gets under way today, and here is our look at the runners and riders in our Champions League preview and tips.
Last season's final was just under 2 months ago, 58 days to be precise, but it seems like so much water has already travelled under the bridge since Bayern Munich triumphed in Lisbon.
Was that unusual sounding foursome down the to the different - Covid influenced - format? Who knows. What we do know is that it was an exciting competition.
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So what about this year? Well for starters, I think it will take a big shift in Europe for the authorities to postpone football indefinitely again, like happened last season. Meaning I don't see the format getting tinkered with again this season.
This most probably plays into the hands of the stronger sides, as it brings back the two legs, and gives the big boys their second bites' of the cherry, should they make a slight mess of the first match.
With this in mind, I can't look past the mainstays of European football when it comes to picking a winner. And to be more precise, I can't really see past England or Germany for this season's winners.
2020/21 Champions League Preview and Tips
I'm really struggling to see this season's winners coming from one of Bayern Munich, Liverpool, or Manchester City.
PSG did show last season that they have what it takes to go all the way, so with that added self belief, I'd have the French champions as my outside bet, and fourth choice.
I'm finding it really difficult to make a case for Real Madrid, Barcelona, or Juventus. Although it would be folly to write off clubs with such history, players, and financial clout.
My problem is that I just don't see any of those three beating someone like Bayern Munich over two legs. Yes, maybe in a one off final, they might have a chance, but not over 180 minutes.
Here's my look at the main runners and riders.......
As it stands I regard Bayern Munich as the best side in Europe. And while that doesn't guarantee they will win - and retain - the Champions League, it's a good reason to make them my tip.
Yes, they could slip up. The Germans could be beaten over two legs by the likes of Liverpool and Man City. And they could get undone by a Messi inspired Barcelona team. Who knows.
Champions League Winner 2020/21 Prediction
The problem with tipping at this stage of the season, is that things can drastically change over 8 months.
Who would have thought at Christmas time last year, that come August, Barcelona would be in complete disarray, and Bayern Munich would be cruising to the Champions League title? Not many.
Munich had just changed manager, and were struggling in the Bundesliga, while Barcelona were top of La Liga, and coasting to the title. Fast forward a few months, and both team's fortunes had totally transformed.
That's why making predictions now is so difficult. If Bayern were to play Barca over 2 legs in the next month, I could only see one winner.
Play the same match in March or April of 2021, and who knows where these two teams will be at?
Who can challenge Munich?
In the latest football betting odds, Bayern Munich's main rivals are Manchester City, who are also 4/1, and Liverpool at 6/1. Everybody after that is in double figures.
For me, Pep's City and Klopp's Liverpool are Bayern's main rivals.
Pep's City failed miserably last season
City fell alarmingly short in last season's competition, as did Liverpool in fairness.
Although the Reds were knocked out by Atletico Madrid, who were a far more difficult proposition than Lyon, conquerors of City.
The competition was set up nicely for City to at the very least reach the semi-finals. They won the 1st leg of their Round of 16 tie away to Real Madrid (2-1) pre lockdown, and finished the job off at the Etihad (2-1) post lockdown.
With Lyon waiting in the quarter-finals, the this was City's chance. But they blew it, losing 3-1 in farcical circumstances.
To add further insult to injury for City, the Premier League was long gone, meaning Pep's team could throw all their huge resources at the Champions League. And they still made an absolute mess of it!
Can they turn that around this season and be realistic challengers to Bayern? I'm not convinced they can.
What of Liverpool?
Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool found that it's not easy defending Europe's elite competition.
The Reds went into their Round of 16 fixture against Atletico Madrid as favourites. But Diego Simeone's Atletico side did a typical number on Liverpool, defeating them 4-2 on aggregate.
The previous two years Liverpool had made the final, losing 3-1 to Real Madrid in 2018, and beating Spurs 2-0 in 2019.
Put simply, Klopp's team know how to reach finals. I see them as a better bet than City, and at 6/1, they are also better odds.
The loss of Virgil van Dijk for the season is a huge blow, but good sides overcome these setbacks. And Liverpool are a good side.
I see no reason why Liverpool can't make the final again this season.
The Best of the Rest
Of the other main contenders, I see PSG as a good shout for going a long way in this year's competition.
Thomas Tuchel's men got a taste of what it's like to go all the way last season. This year that know-how could well help them go one step further.
Yes, they have lost the experience of Thiago Silva who left for Chelsea, but they have replaced him in defence with Marquinhos - a more than adequate replacement.
I predict at least another semi-final for the Parisians.
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I really can't see the two Spanish sides competing this season. They both look way off the pace of the Bayern to me - as things stand now, that is!
Juventus are another side I just can't see troubling Europe's elite.
They have got rid of Maurizio Sarri and replaced him with the inexperienced Andrea Pirlo. But I still can't see that being enough to turn them into European champions again.
My outside bet to break into the elite and upset the party are Borussia Dortmund. I can see the Germans with Erling Haaland and co being a handful the season.
2020/21 Champions League Semi-Final Predictions
My four teams to reach the semi-finals are:-
- Bayern Munich
- Man City
2020/21 Champions League Final Predictions
For my 2020/21 Champions League preview and tips I'm going for the two teams who have been represented in the last 3 year's finals... they are:-
- Bayern Munich
Even though I believe Man City will win the Premier League, I think Liverpool are better equipped for Europe.
I can just see City falling short again, and the same applies to PSG.