A Look Ahead to the 2017/18 Champions League
Real Madrid made history in the 2016/17 Champions League by becoming the first club to win back-to-back titles in the current format of the competition.
Zinedine Zidane and his players fully deserved their victory over Juventus in Cardiff and the players can enjoy a good summer, with no major international tournament to concern them. However, on the 19th June 2017, the draw will take place for the first qualifying round of the 2017/18 Champions League tournament.
None of the clubs who play in this round of the Champions League have a realistic chance of making the group stages, never mind winning the trophy. However, there are some superb teams who have already qualified for the group stages of the competition.
Real Madrid are one of those teams and they are 11/2 to Ladbrokes to make it three Champions League titles in succession. The Spanish champions will be in Pot 1 along with Bayern Munich, Juventus, Chelsea, Benfica, Monaco, Spartak Moscow and Shakhtar Donetsk.
In truth, there are only three other teams in this pot, who have a good chance of making it all the way to the final. Bayern Munich are 11/2 with Ladbrokes to win the 2017/18 Champions League, making them one of the favourites along with Real Madrid.
Juventus are available at 10/1, with Chelsea at 14/1, both with William Hill. Juventus need to recover from yet another disappointment in the final, whereas Chelsea are making a return to the competition they won in 2011/12.
There are some strong teams in Pot 1 but its Pot 2 where things become very interesting. Having finished second in La Liga, Barcelona find themselves in Pot 2 along with Paris Saint-Germain, Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Manchester City and Porto.
These clubs reached the knockout stages in 2016/17 and will be aiming to go further next season. Barcelona are under new management and considered the favourites to win the 2017/18 Champions League, priced at 5/1 with Ladbrokes.
Manchester City, who are yet to make the final of the competition are 12/1 and 2015/16 finalists, Atletico Madrid are 14/1, both with Ladbrokes.
Perhaps the most interesting team in Pot 2 are Manchester United. The Red Devils make a return to the top table of European football, having won the Europa League and have been installed at 14/1 with Ladbrokes to win the 2017/18 Champions League.
You must go back to 2012 to find the last time a Premier League club reached the Champions League final. This season, if Liverpool come through the playoff stages, the Premier League will have five representatives in the competition. You can get 25/1 with Ladbrokes for Jurgen Klopp to lead Liverpool to Champions League glory at the first attempt and 5/2 with Ladbrokes that the winning nationality will be English.
Looking at potential outsiders and 2016/17 semi-finalists Monaco are available at 40/1 and Europa League runners-up, Ajax, are on offer at a massive 200/1, both with Ladbrokes.
Considering the quality of the teams in the draw, the 2017/18 UEFA Champions League could be the best we have ever seen.