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Thursday, 20 March 2014

Do Chelsea or Manchester United have a chance of winning the Champions League?


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Premier League leaders Chelsea and current champions Manchester United this week booked their place in to the quarter-final draw for the Champions League, but can they actually go on and lift the most sought-after prize in club football?

Well if you look at the latest odds from SkyBet the answer is simply no.

Chelsea, who won the trophy for the first time in 2011, are fifth favourites for the crown at 12/1, while Manchester United are joint outsiders with Atletico Madrid and Borussia Dortmund at 16/1.

Understandably holders Bayern Munich are the team to beat at 15/8, followed by Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid at 4/1 and PSG at 10/1. However, all that could change once the draw has been made tomorrow morning.

Rvp v afcThere was a time when Manchester United were a team to be feared in this competition. Manchester United and the Champions League went together like jelly and ice-cream. Unfortunately the changing of the guard at Old Trafford has coincided with a changing of fortunes. United have little chance of qualifying for the tournament next season through the Premier League. There only hope of rubbing shoulders with Messi, Ronaldo and co next season is to actually win the competition - and that looks unlikely given their current form.

Manchester United will be the team everyone wants to face in the last eight. They may still have quality players like RVP, Rooney and De Gea, but the squad is seriously lacking top class talent and David Moyes faces a huge rebuilding job at Old Trafford. Their defence is getting old and Old Trafford is no longer the fortress it once was. In saying that though, with nothing else to play for, United certainly have the potential to cause a shock or two. But win it? I'd doubt any sane United fan would put their money on it.

Out of the two English clubs left, Chelsea look the best bet for glory. In Mourinho they have a two-time Champions League winning manager and there is still a huge pool of players who have experienced Champions League and Europa League success with the club. They have one of the most talented midfields in Europe and Terry, Cahill and Cech have a tremendous defensive understanding. Their forward line remains a problem but Eto'o and Torres are big game players and who needs a recognised striker when you've got Hazard, Lampard, Ramires and Oscar chipping in with goals from midfield?

Mourinho and champions leagueAnd talking of big game players, well they don't come much bigger than Jose Mourinho. The master of mind games, the former Porto and Inter Milan chief has found a way to beat them all. He may not have played the game, and may rub people up the wrong way, but he knows how to get the best out of his players and how to overcome the toughest of challenges.

Bayern manager Pep Guardiola will be under pressure to keep the coveted trophy at the Allianz Arena, but the German giants have steamrolled everyone put in front of them so far. Real Madrid are desperate to end their 12-year wait to get their hands on the Champions League again, while Barcelona will be looking to show that their golden period of success is far from over. 

Big-spending PSG would like to see a return on their huge outlay, Atletico are a team to avoid like the plague while Borussia Dortmund will be looking to go one better than last season.

We're down to the business end of things now. The group stages always threw up a duff game here and there, but there are simply no easy games left in this competition. To win the tournament you need a great manager, a great squad and huge slice of luck. With eight of Europe's biggest names left, who is your money on?

Whatever your view, we'd love to hear from you.

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Colin Illingworth

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