Betting on the Champions League 2015/16
The world's greatest club competition is back, the group stages have kicked off and the long journey to the final has begun.
Feel your European football knowledge is up to scratch? Do you know who will lift the trophy in the iconic San Siro next year? It's time to put your money where your mouth is and get betting!
Promo codes and where to bet
When placing bets on the Champions League it's best to go for one of the major betting companies to guarantee yourself the best odds and make the most of the special markets.
Take a look at the bookies below and make use of their welcome bonuses and promo codes.
Holders Barcelona are tipped as favourites to succeed in the final by Bet365 and it's the usual suspects who dominate the overall winner market.
Bet on the Champions League winner
Best odds: Ladbrokes offer the best odds on this market, followed closely by Bet365.
With Messi, Neymar and Suarez spearheading the attack Barcelona boast the most dangerous strike force in football, and their impressive treble last season makes them the bookies favourites across the board.
Despite their lingering transfer ban and a tough fixture list Barça have started the season well, but with Sergi Roberto currently deployed as a makeshift right-back, the departure of Pedro and season-ending injury to Rafinha the squad is facing a worrying lack of depth.
Considering the low odds, squad issues and the unlikelihood of any club retaining the title Barcelona seem a riskier bet than they may appear at first glance.
It's no secret that Pep Guardiola was brought to Munich with the goal of bringing the Champions League trophy back to Bavaria. With two disappointing European outings and Guardiola entering the final year of his contract Munich will be hungry for glory.
Bayern had a typically astute summer in the transfer market bringing in Juventus powerhouse Arturo Vidal and Brazilian sensation Douglas Costa. The former Shakhtar winger has cemented himself as a starter and is establishing himself as one of the Bundesliga's best players. While Pep's experimental formations have raised some eyebrows, domestically the Bavarians have been as strong as usual, winning every game so far.
With Vidal and Costa added to an already versatile squad Bayern Munich look like an excellent candidate, and Guardiola will be keen to cement his legacy as one of the world's best managers.
The last of the European “holy trinity” are Real Madrid. With La Decima secured the Madrid giants are the competitions most successful club, boasting an impressive 10 titles and are unanimously the bookies 3rd favourite.
The departure of Ancelotti and appearance of Rafael Benitez at the Madrid helm was extremely telling. With the infamous tenth European title secure Real are looking to improve domestically, where has been poor in recent years. The appointment of the two-time La Liga winning manager suggests Europe is no longer top of the agenda.
Despite that the Madrid squad hosts a wealth of talent, including the clubs new all time top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo, and Rafa Benitez is no stranger to European success, making Real a healthier bet than Barcelona at present.
Other Champions League contenders
One of the most serious contenders outside of the “big 3” has to be PSG. The Parisians have been dominant in Ligue 1 claiming three league titles in a row, thanks in large to a huge influx of Qatari money.
It is no secret that PSG's ultimate goal is European success and with the addition of Real Madrid's Champions League hero Angel di Maria and Monaco starlet Layvin Kurzawa the French champions squad is better than ever. If the top teams falter this could easily be their year.
One of the competitions dark horses are Atletico Madrid, who were finalists in 2013 and narrowly lost out to city rivals Real. Simeone's ability to generate energy and passion in his team has always made them greater than the sum of their parts. With increased revenue and a new style of team Los Colchoneros possess the ability to surprise even the biggest of teams.
Overall top scorer
If it's too early for you to bet on a Champions League 2015/16 winner how about selecting the competition's top scorer?
Unsurprisingly the all-time leading scorer Cristiano Ronaldo is the bookies favourite and considering he has finished top over the last three seasons there is no reason he cannot maintain his goal scoring feats.
Best odds: currently the markets are completely interchangeable so it's down to personal preference who you select.
William Hill – How Many English Teams Will Qualify From Their Group?
The changes to the group stage seeding has blessed the English teams with relatively easy groups and on paper all four should proceed to the knockout stages, despite an unconvincing start from Arsenal and the Manchester clubs.
Manchester City have a bad habit of under-performing in Europe and have the trickiest group, featuring last years finalists Juventus and Europa cup specialists Sevilla. However Man City's blistering domestic performances and overall superior squad puts them in good stead to qualify.
Betfair – English Progress to the Semi Finals
Betfair are offering punters the option to select how many English clubs will make it to the semi finals. Factoring in their fairly dismal performances in Europe in recent seasons none looks like a solid assumption.
Optimists may be more confident in the Premier League contingent: perhaps Martial led Manchester United, former champions Chelsea and Manchester City can do the unthinkable, and in a world where Greece won the Euros in living memory you can't completely write off Arsenal…
PaddyPower – Top English Team
If the previous two specials don't appeal then this one by PaddyPower makes everything a bit simpler, as one English team has to finish top! City have great odds, especially considering Chelsea's shaky start to the season.
As Arsenal haven't exceeded Round 16 for the last five seasons and Manchester United are mixing injuries with inconsistency both represent risky bets.
SkyBet – Win all 6 Champions League 2015/16 group games
In the history of the competition only six teams have had a perfect group stage, most recently Real Madrid in 2011/12. Traditionally the bigger teams who gain early qualification use the unimportant later games to field weakened teams / youngsters and subsequently drop points.
Bayern's relatively small squad combined with Guardiola's record of successfully integrating young talents makes them the safest bet in this category.