With bwin offering 7/1 about a team that have never won the Champions League emulating Chelsea’s first-time triumph in 2011/12 come May and some intriguing runners within this market, including big summer spenders Paris Saint-Germain, a nibble on that price could be worth having.
PSG’s group C – which they are strongly fancied to top at 11/20 – looks to be one of the easiest to navigate, with Benfica, Olympiakos and Anderlecht set to scrap over the second and third place crumbs from the French champions’ table.
In last season’s quarter-final second leg PSG were ahead at the Camp Nou with 40 minutes left in the tie and Barca needed to bring on a half-fit Lionel Messi to provide the spark for Pedro’s equaliser, sending their opponents out on away goals.
New Les Parisiens manager Laurent Blanc took Bordeaux to the quarter-finals in his last shot at Europe’s elite competition three years ago and the arrival of £55m striker Edinson Cavani from Napoli will add even more attacking prowess to PSG’s already swollen up-front ranks.
Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid are another team who have a relatively straightforward set of first-round fixtures to overcome, with Porto, Zenit St Petersburg and Austria Vienna making up the rest of group G and they are priced up accordingly at 21/20 jollies to qualify in first.
The Rojiblancos are joint-top of La Liga after four rounds and the summer acquisition of 31-year-old David Villa, who has scored in each of his last two domestic games, could be the experienced signing that sees a side dotted with potential brilliance – in the form of Chelsea loanee goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and Brazilian striker Diego Costa – challenge at home and abroad this season.
The bet is further strengthened by the likelihood that Man City will be a force in the competition this year having been made clear 11/5 second-favourites to top a group that includes holders Bayern Munich, CSKA Moscow and Czech champions Viktoria Plzen.
After consecutive desperate struggles to get through to the knockouts to no avail under Roberto Mancini, the Premier League side now have a manager with vast experience of reaching the latter stages of this competition.
Manuel Pellegrini, who reached the semi-finals in 2005/06 with Villarreal and the quarter-finals last year with Malaga, has never failed to take a team through the group stages at four attempts and has enough quality available at City to keep that record going.
If these three clubs are still in the mix when only 16 teams remain come February, 7/1 on any of them to triumph outright will look a very nice bet.