Champions League 2018-19: Favourites, outsiders, underdogs, qualified teams & fixtures

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The new season of the European competition will return to gear soon with Real Madrid hoping to win their fourth successive title

Champions League group stage football isn't far off now as Real Madrid look to clinch a sensational fourth title in a row – though they will need to prepare for life without star striker Cristiano Ronaldo.

They remain one of the favourites to lift the trophy once again alongside the big-name likes of Manchester City, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain. 

However, last year's runners-up Liverpool and semi-finalists Roma showed that unfancied sides can go far in the tournament still too.

Goal brings you all the details of the favourites , underdogs and outsiders ahead of the upcoming Champions League season, as well as all the teams who have already qualified and when fixtures will be played.

Favourites to win the 2018-19 Champions League

Manchester City have emerged as strong favourites to win the first Champions League this season after falling gloriously short of the trophy in previous years. They have odds of 11/2 to lift the trophy according to dabblebet, and finished as quarter-finalists in the competition last season after being eliminated by eventual runners-up Liverpool.

Pep Guardiola has experience winning the trophy with Barcelona and will be eager to repeat the success with Man City. He will also be looking to push on from the success of winning the Premier League in his second season in charge.

Barcelona are 6/1 favourites to win the Champions League this season, last winning the tournament in 2015 after beating Juventus 3-1 in the final. This season will be the first in which star striker Lionel Messi takes on the captain's armband, inheriting the honour from Andres Iniesta who left the club to join Japanese side Vissel Kobe.

Cristiano Ronaldo Juventus

The event of Portuguese megastar Cristiano Ronaldo joining Juventus this summer in a sensational €100m transfer has put the Italian side at 6/1 to win the Champions League. Ronaldo joins the Serie A team off the backs of three consecutive European Cup wins - bringing his tally to five in total - and will no doubt provide to be instrumental in their run-up to European glory.

Defending champions Real Madrid are priced at 13/2  to repeat their success this season, having won the competition for the last three years running – and would put them on course to win a fourth European title in a row, which has never before been done. Madrid, however, are currently a side in transition having recently replaced manager Zinedine Zidane with Julen Lopetegui and still aiming to fill the striker void that Ronaldo left behind. 

Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain have odds of 7/1  to win the Champions League after exiting the competition at the hands of eventual winners Real Madrid in the last 16 stage, ruing the loss of star forward Neymar. The French side will doubtless be buoyed by the strengths of Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani leading the line, helmed by new coach Thomas Tuchel.

2018-19 Champions League underdogs

Mohamed Salah Liverpool Demetri Mitchell Manchester United

Though Liverpool finished runners-up in the competition last year and made huge strides to get to the final, overcoming the likes of Manchester City and Roma, they are priced at 12/1 to win the competition outright this season.

They could very well emerge as underdogs once again this year after their second-placed finish, however, what with manager Jurgen Klopp making enormous waves in the transfer window this summer to bolster almost every aspect of their attack, signalling their intent. Having just signed the likes of midfield duo Fabinho and Naby Keita for a combined £90 million, Klopp also added Xherdan Shaqiri for £13m and broke their record transfer fee by signing Brazilian shot-stopper Alisson for £66m.

Bayern Munich are priced at 15/2 to win the Champions League after being eliminated by Real Madrid at the semi-final stage in last season's competition. Niko Kovac takes the reins of the Bundesliga giants who will be looking to lift their first European Cup since 2013, when they won against German rivals Borussia Dortmund in the final.

Atletico Madrid are another underdog in Europe, priced at 14/1 to win the competition. The La Liga side won the Europa League last season and will be looking to push on for Champions League success – having finished as runners-up in the competition to none other than local rivals Real Madrid on two occasions, in 2014 and 2016. They will be bolstered by star Antoine Griezmann committing his future with the club amid talks of a move to Barcelona, and have added depth in Thomas Lemar.

Manchester United are tipped at 14/1 to lift the trophy as the Red Devils approach Jose Mourinho's infamous 'third season' with the side. They crashed out disappointingly to Sevilla in the last 16 stage and will be eager to win the competition for the first time since Sir Alex Ferguson was in charge of the club.

2018-19 Champions League outsiders

AS Roma Barcelona Champions League 2017-18

Tottenham are outside favourites to win the Champions League, priced at 25/1 to win the competition. Mauricio Pochettino's side did well in the group stage, placing first ahead of Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund, but failed to see out Juventus on home turf in the knockout phase.

Odds of Napoli winning the European competition are at 40/1,  and will be rocked by the departure of coach Maurizio Sarri who guided them to a second-place finish in Serie A.

Roma are also priced at  40/1  to be crowned European champions and will also be dealt with a blow following the major loss of goalkeeper Alisson to Liverpool, who kept them in the tie when they played out a narrow 4-3 semi-final tie on aggregate. They shocked the world last season when they eliminated Barcelona in the quarter-final stage after losing 4-1 in the first leg, progressing to the last four based on away goals.

2018-19 Champions League qualified teams

The final play-off round will be contested starting the week of August 21-22, with the group stage set to commence on September 18 and 19.

The draw for the group stage will take place on August 30.

There are just six qualification spots left up for grabs, with 26 positions already taken.

Pot 1 Pot 2 Pot 3 Pot 4
Real Madrid (162.000) (CL) Borussia Dortmund (89.000) Schalke (62.000) Inter (16.000)
Atletico Madrid (140.000) (EL) Porto (86.000) Lyon (59.500) Hoffenheim (14.285)
Bayern Munich (135.000) Manchester United (82.000) Monaco (57.000) TBC
Barcelona (132.000) Shakhtar Donetsk (81.000) CSKA Moscow (45.000) TBC
Juventus (126.000) Napoli (78.000) Valencia (36.000)* TBC
PSG (109.000) Tottenham (67.000) Viktoria Plzen (33.000)* TBC
Manchester City (100.000) Roma (64.000) Club Brugge (29.500)* TBC
Lokomotiv Moscow (22.500) Liverpool (62.000)* Galatasaray (29.500)* TBC

*Italics = position subject to change

Champions League 2018-19 fixtures

The qualification stage is now at the third round point and the winners of those ties will head into the play-offs to decide which teams reach the group stage.

Third qualifying round

Champions path:

Team Agg. Team Leg 1 Leg 2
Red Star Belgrade - Spartak Trnava Aug 7 Aug 14
Qarabag - BATE Borisov Aug 7 Aug 14
Astana - Dinamo Zagreb Aug 7 Aug 14
Malmo - MOL Vidi Aug 7 Aug 14
Celtic - AEK Athens Aug 8 Aug 14
Red Bull Salzburg - Shkendija Aug 8 Aug 14

League path:

Team Agg. Team Leg 1 Leg 2
Standard Liege - Ajax Aug 7 Aug 14
Benfica - Fenerbahce Aug 7 Aug 14
Slavia Prague - Dynamo Kiev Aug 7 Aug 14
PAOK - Spartak Moscow Aug 7 Aug 14

Red Bull Salzburg, AEK Athens, Benfica, Dynamo Kiev, Fenerbahce, Spartak Moscow, Standard Liege and Slavia Prague enter the competition in the third qualifying round, while the likes of Celtic and Red Star Belgrade have come through two rounds to reach this point.

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PSV and Young Boys are the only entrants to the Champions League in the final knockout phase, the play-off round, before the group stage. Unlike previous season, teams from major European leagues don't have to compete for a spot in the groups as they've been given automatic qualification by UEFA.

Champions League 2018-19 - Route to Final

The final of next season's Champions League will be played at the home of Atletico Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano, on June 1. 

Phase Round Draw date First leg Second leg
Preliminary Preliminary round Jun 12 Jun 26 (semi-final round) 29 Jun (final round)
Qualifying First qualifying round Jun 19 Jul 10-11 Jul 17-18
Second qualifying round Jul 24-25 31 Jul-1 Aug    
Third qualifying round Jul 23 Aug 7-8 Aug 14  
Play-off Play-off round Aug 6 Aug 21-22 Aug 28-29
Group stage Matchday 1 Aug 30 Sept 18-19  
  Matchday 2 Aug 30 Oct 2-3  
  Matchday 3 Aug 30 Oct 23-24  
  Matchday 4 Aug 30 Nov 6-7  
  Matchday 5 Aug 30 Nov 27-28  
  Matchday 6 Aug 30 Dec 11-12  
Knockout phase Round of 16   Feb 12-13 & 19-20 Mar 5-6 & 12-13
  Quarter-finals   Apr 9-10 Apr 16-17
  Semi-finals Apr 19 Apr 30-May 1 May 7-8
  Final   Jun 1  

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