Manchester City will head into their 2023/24 Champions League campaign with a target on their back after claiming the title for the first time in their history last season.
Online bookmakers are clearly running scared of Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering side, installing them as short-priced favourites to lift the trophy for the second successive year.
The best bookmakers in the business rate them as 2/1 shots to claim the top prize in Europe again, and it will undoubtedly take a good team to lower their colours.
Bayern Munich and Real Madrid are next in the outright betting, while Arsenal, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain are other teams being tipped to go deep in the competition.
With that in mind, we take a closer look at whether Man City can defend their Champions League title this season.
Favourable group holds no fears for City
The reigning champions landed in Group G when the draw was made in Monaco and should have little difficulty progressing to the knockout stage.
A quick bookmakers comparison highlights the ease of the task they face, with Man City rated as 1/10 favourites to finish top of the standings.
RB Leipzig are the team most likely to give them problems, although Guardiola’s side destroyed them in their last-16 tie in last year’s competition.
Leipzig have sold Josko Gvardiol and Christopher Nkunku this summer, although they have used the money wisely to sign several talented players.
Despite this, you would be hard pushed to imagine Leipzig can topple City, and they look destined to finish runners-up in this group.
Young Boys and Red Star Belgrade look well out of their depth in this group and will be battling to secure third spot to qualify for the Europa League.
Premier League clubs rivals may be dangerous
While the latest Champions League odds with UK bookmakers suggest Bayern and Madrid are the biggest threats to Man City, their main challengers could be more familiar foes.
Arsenal mounted a strong challenge to win the Premier League last term, before running out of steam on the run-in to allow City to power past them.
Punters using the safest betting sites can back the Gunners at around 10/1 to win the Champions League and that price may attract value seekers.
The Gunners have been handed a reasonable draw in Group B alongside Sevilla, PSV Eindhoven and Lens, and should have no trouble reaching the last-16.
Having strengthened their squad during the summer transfer window, Arsenal could be dangerous when the Champions League reaches the latter stages.
Manchester United also have the potential to force their way into contention, although they will need to improve on their early-season form.
However, their squad still lacks the depth Man City currently possess and it would be a surprise if they made it much further than the quarter-finals.
Newcastle United are the Premier League’s fourth entrants in the competition and they look destined to make an early exit after being handed a tough draw.
PSG, AC Milan and Borussia Dortmund will be tricky opponents in Group F and the Magpies’ interest in the competition is expected to be short-lived.
England duo eyeing Champions League glory
Bayern’s status as second favourites behind City to win the Champions League has been partially fuelled by their summer acquisition of striker Harry Kane.
Sports bettors have been clamouring to access bookmaker reviews to find reliable sites offering top goalscorer odds in the Bundesliga since Kane left Tottenham Hotspur.
While the England captain looks nailed on to top the scoring charts in Germany, he will not be judged on what he achieves with Bayern at domestic level.
Kane has been signed with the primary aim of leading Bayern to the Champions League title and it will be intriguing to see if he is up to the task.
Odds of 11/2 for Bayern to lift the trophy are a fair reflection of their chances, but their hopes of being the main challengers to City could be scuppered by another team.
Madrid are a best-priced 17/2 to be crowned European champions for the 15th time and a strong case can be made for them getting the job done.
The addition of Jude Bellingham to their midfield ranks has unquestionably improved Madrid’s chances, while the rest of their squad is strong.
Given the talent at their disposal, it would be no surprise to see Madrid progress to what would be a dream final against City at Wembley Stadium next June.
However, given the options Guardiola has available to him, Man City clearly have the ability to claim back-to-back successes in the Champions League.