Alex Lee looks at the clubs at the head of the Champions League Winner market and one German side that look a huge price lurking further down the list...
"Having strengthened his squad with the high-profile acquisitions of Robin Van Persie and Shinji Kagawa, Sir Alex Ferguson will be expecting nothing less than glorious success this time out."
While they surrendered the 2011/12 Premier League title to their noisy neighbours from Eastlands, Manchester United are not famous for failure and anything less than a semi-final place in the 2012/13 Champions League would be seen as such. Having strengthened his squad with the high-profile acquisitions of Robin Van Persie and Shinji Kagawa, Sir Alex Ferguson will be expecting nothing less than glorious success this time out. United can be backed at [11.0].
Any side with a fully-fit and raring to go Cristiano Ronaldo would fancy their chances, regardless of the ability of his ten team-mates. Thankfully for Real Madrid, their squad is brimming with internationals at the top of their game. From the uber-experienced Casillas in goal and a back four worth an estimated £100 million, through the talented midfield quartet of Drenthe, Modric, Ozil and Kaka, with Benzema up top alongside Ronaldo himself, the Bernabeu-based club will want to put an eleven-year run of Champions League disappointments behind them in 2012/13. Los Blancos are currently available at [5.4].
Despite spending more money than a certain Mr Brewster could have done if he'd lived till he was 100, Britain's richest club has kept on splashing the cash in an effort to go one better than its Premier League success in 2011/12. While throwing money at a squad doesn't guarantee European Champions League glory (Leeds fans look away now), in this day and age it can go a long way towards it. City are priced at [11.0] right now, with the market believing that they have exactly the same chance of picking up the Champions League trophy as their rivals from Old Trafford.
Justified favourites at [3.55] and four-time European champions, no-one would be surprised if Barcelona brought European football's most lucrative prize back to the Nou Camp in 2013. This explains their rather skinny odds. When you consider, however, that the likes of Tiger Woods, Roger Federer and Phil Taylor have been priced up ante post at considerably less to win tournaments in their respective sports before now, 3.55 may not seem too shabby.
Priced at [13.0] to take the title in 2013, the German giants aren't quite the force they have been in days gone by but as serial quarter-, semi- and finalists, Bayern Munich cannot be written off. With a largely home-grown squad interspersed with Brazilian, French, Dutch and Swiss talent, they should coast the Group Stage, but after that it's anyone's guess as they've gained a reputation for being the nearly men of European - and German - football in the last 24 months. That fact notwithstanding, a punt at [13.0] would prove a sound investment if they were to reach the final again this season.
With their thrilling brand of 'if they score three, we'll score five' brand of football, Borussia Dortmund were deserved winners of last season's Bundesliga, which is fast becoming the strongest and most competitive domestic league in Europe. Die Schwarzgelben's ('The Black Yellows') success was no flash in the pan either as it was their second Bundesliga title on the bounce. With the backing of 80,000 fanatical supporters in Germany's biggest stadium, their home form will be the bedrock of their progress in the Champions League in 2012/13. Currently trading at [50.0], they're the best of the outsiders.