Champions League 2018/19: Ronaldo to be the difference maker for Juventus

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The Champions League group stage kicks-off on September 18 and teams across Europe are dreaming of lifting the famous trophy in the final in Madrid next May.

Real Madrid are chasing their fourth successive victory in the competition, but there are a host of clubs who hold a genuine chance of winning Europe’s top football prize.

Read on as we assess five of the main contenders.

Real Madrid

There will be plenty of punters eager to use William Hill Free Bet Offers to back Madrid at odds of 8/1 to win the Champions League once again.

The La Liga side dominated Liverpool in last season’s final, but their price reflects the fact that they no longer have star man Cristiano Ronaldo in their squad.

However, Madrid are priced at 1/6 to top a favourable group in the opening stage and should progress to at least the semi-finals this season.

Manchester City

Pep Guardiola’s side are favourites to win the competition after drawing an easy route into the knockout stage.

City are expected to breeze past Shakhtar Donetsk, Lyon and Hoffenheim in Group F, but things will undoubtedly get tougher thereafter.

They were thumped 5-1 on aggregate by Liverpool in the quarter-finals last season and are still searching for their first success in Europe’s top club competition.

Barcelona

Madrid’s dominance in the Champions League will undoubtedly be a huge source of frustration for Barca.

They were surprisingly knocked out of last season’s quarter-finals by Roma, but they are likely to be tough to beat this time around.

An opening group of Tottenham Hotspur, Inter Milan and PSV Eindhoven won’t be easy, but the La Liga side are fancied to progress a long way in this season’s Champions League.

Juventus

The Serie A club’s signing of Ronaldo shows that they mean business and they look capable of delivering a winning return for bettors this term.

Juve have made an impressive start to the season and their clashes with Manchester United in this group promise to be special occasions.

Ronaldo was the difference-maker for Madrid in last season’s competition and he can be expected to do exactly the same for the Italian side. Odds of 7/1 to lift the trophy could look big if Ronaldo delivers.

Liverpool

The Reds were outclassed by Madrid in last season’s final and they have invested heavily this summer to improve their main areas of weakness.

Jurgen Klopp’s side won’t find things easy in Group C, but they should possess enough quality to progress alongside either Paris Saint-Germain or Napoli.

Another run to the final isn’t beyond Liverpool, although Juve look a good bet at 15/2 to win the competition for the first time since 1996.

Champions League 2018/19 group stage line-up:

Group A: Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Monaco, Brugge.

Group B: Barcelona, Tottenham, PSV, Inter Milan.

Group C: Paris St-Germain, Napoli, Liverpool, Red Star Belgrade.

Group D: Lokomotiv Moscow, Porto, Schalke, Galatasaray.

Group E: Bayern Munich, Benfica, Ajax, AEK Athens.

Group F: Manchester City, Shakhtar Donetsk, Lyon, Hoffenheim.

Group G: Real Madrid, Roma, CSKA Moscow, Viktoria Plzen.

Group H: Juventus, Manchester United, Valencia, Young Boys.