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The bookies may have already practically given the trophy to the Blaugrana but history isn't on their side as we look at some contenders for European success this season.

Ever since the final whistle blew at Wembley on May 28, Barcelona have been red-hot favourites to retain their Champions League crown. A quick scan at the latest betting odds supplied by William Hill puts the Blaugrana at a thin 2.62. That's not a great deal higher than even money and we haven't even concluded the group stages yet.

Any punter who has backed the holders to retain since 1990 will have ended up out of pocket come the end of the season. No club since the great Milan side of 1989-90 has repeated the feat so Barca's price of 2.62 does offer great value right now. Bearing that in mind, let's take a loot at three challengers who could wrest the crown away from Catalunya.

Real Madrid
Odds: 4.0

Probably the strongest squad ever assembled, and directed by arguably the best manager on the planet - how can you argue with Real Madrid's chances of winning the Champions League for a tenth time? Three points clear of Barcelona in La Liga, and having outscored the free-firing Catalans, this is a side that shouldn't be underestimated.

With ongoing battles on multiple fronts this season, the Merengues' better strength in depth may give them the edge over Barcelona if the Cules were to have some key injuries. Real are second favourites at 4.0 behind their great Clasico rivals. No manager has won Europe's greatest prize with three separate clubs and Jose Mourinho has a habit of rewriting the history books.

Bayern Munich
Odds: 7.50

At 7.50 - the Bavarians provide an interesting proposition for backers. They are top of their group and have already advanced, not to mention being leaders of the Bundesliga. Bayern will need everyone fit, but their strong squad is being expertly overseen by Jupp Heynckes.

Mario Gomez is top scorer in the Champions League as well as having netted 13 in 12 in the Bundesliga - the German star would have an enormous role if they were to add a European crown to their already burgeoning trophy cabinet. Next year's final is at the Allianz Arena in Munich which is providing tremendous motivation for the four times winners.

Odds: 26.0

The Nerazzurri may be enduring a dismal time domestically, residing a lowly 16th in the current Serie A table, but have saved their best form for Europe. Inter have already qualified from Group B, making a superb recovery from a shock opening day defeat to Trabzonspor. Gritty away wins in Moscow and Lille have demonstrated the team's character under new boss Claudio Ranieri.

With the Scudetto all but over, expect the Italians to conserve their energy for a European campaign. There are plenty of precedents for clubs overperforming in Europe when having a horrid time on the home front, Schalke last season and Real Madrid in 1999/2000, are some recent examples. Inter still know how to get results in Europe and lest we forget were champions as recently as 2010. A price of 26.0 is worth getting involved with for a small stake.

Champions League Outright Odds (William Hill)

Barcelona @ 2.62
Real Madrid @ 4.0
Bayern Munich @ 7.50
Man Utd @ 13.0
Chelsea @ 13.0
Man City @ 26.0
Arsenal @ 26.0
Milan @ 26.0
Inter @ 26.0
Napoli @ 51.0
Benfica @ 67.0
Valencia @ 101.0
Borussia Dortmund @ 101.0
Shakhtar Donetsk @ 101.0
Marseille @ 101.0
Porto @ 101.0
CSKA Moscow @ 101.0
Zenit St Petersburg @ 101.0
Ajax @ 151.0
Lyon @ 151.0
Bayer Leverkusen @ 201.0
APOEL @ 251.0
Lille @ 251.0
Basel @ 251.0
Trabzonspor @ 501.0
Olympiakos @ 1001.0

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