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The Champions League is set to make its welcome return on August 7th, with an updated format. The tournament will play out in Lisbon, and after the remaining round of 16 matches are played, the quarter-finals and semi-finals will be single game elimination matches.
The Final, which was originally scheduled to take place in Istanbul, will take place at Benfica’s Estadio da Luz on August 23rd.
Right now, Bayern Munich are heavy favorites with the bookmakers to win their first Champions League since 2013, and with good cause. The Germans just wrapped up their eighth straight Bundesliga title, they have won their last 15 games straight and they look truly incredible under coach Hansi Flick right now.
However, the German season finishes this weekend, which means Bayern won’t play for over a month until the Champions League picks up. Could they lose momentum when others are gaining it?
Manchester City and Barcelona are the second and third favorites, while PSG are fourth favorites, even though they won’t have played a competitive game for nearly 5 months when the action begins.
If you are looking for a dark horse for this tournament, though, look no further than Real Madrid. They're not usually a dark horse for anything, but they are ranked ninth by the bookmakers, behind RB Leipzig and Atalanta.
Zidane’s side must overcome a 2-1 Round of 16 deficit to Manchester City, but it is absurd to rule them out at this point.
They have won four of the last six Champions Leagues, they have only failed to make the final four once in the last nine editions, and they have looked excellent since the restart, with players like Eden Hazard, Vinicius, Toni Kroos, Sergio Ramos and Marcelo all looking like world beaters.
And this Madrid side also have a recent history of overturning a Champions League deficit: on the way to victory in 2016, they turned around a 2-0 first leg defeat to Wolfsburg to win 3-2 on aggregate.
So, Bayern may be favorites, but don’t sleep on Los Blancos.
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