Barely three months after Bayern Munich lifted the Champions League trophy in late August, we’re approaching the knockout stages of the 2021 competition.
The most prestigious club competition in football brings the best out of the world’s elite players and this year has been no exception.
With the final few games of the group stages remaining, the UEFA Champions League contenders are starting to come into their own.
The cream rises to the top and that's certainly been the case for unbeaten Group A leaders Bayern Munich who lead the football outright betting as favourites to retain the title.
There’s a strong contingent of potential winners from Germany in this year’s campaign and we’ll go through our favourites to triumph.
The Allianz Arena is a fortress for Bayern
With only a few months passed since Bayern’s six European Cup win, it’s no surprise that the joint-third most successful club in European football are favourites for this campaign.
Die Bayern set the unprecedented record of becoming the only team to lift the title after winning every match in the Champions League campaign, and they’ve continued this astonishing streak over the first few matches of the 2020/2021 tournament.
Only once has a team won back to back Champions League titles (Real Madrid’s 2016-2018 three-peat) and there’s a real chance that this dominant Bayern side can follow suit. The Bavarian powerhouse has a squad that most can only dream of, with significant strength throughout the first eleven and, the most potent attack in world football.
Polish superstar Robert Lewandowski bagged an incredible 55 goals in just 47 games last season and is widely regarded as the best striker in the world at the moment. The prolific finisher has continued his rate into this season with 15 goals through his first 14 games, and the 32-year-old isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.
Despite having the most threatening strike force in Europe last season, the German champions have strengthened their roster by adding former Manchester City speedster Leroy Sane to the ranks. When announcing his move to Munich, Sane said ‘I want to win as many trophies as possible with Bayern, and the Champions League is the top priority’ and adding such a talent can only improve their chances of victory.
Dortmund are rarely beaten at Signal Iduna Park
Dortmund have become synonymous with their flashy and attacking style of football since Jurgen Klopp brought them back to the forefront of European football almost a decade ago. Since then, players have come and gone but the philosophy has remained, and current boss Lucien Favre has got his young squad on the brink of challenging at the top level again.
Dortmund boast arguably the most talented squad of young players in the world, with Giovanni Reyna, Jadon Sancho and wonderkid Erling Braut Haaland leading the way.
Alan Hansen famously said that ‘you don't win anything with kids’, but this team have every chance of proving that wrong. Four of Dortmund’s most promising players were born in England, with Jude Bellingham and England winger Jadon Sancho continually improving their reputation internationally and domestically.
Giovanni Reyna, son of former Manchester City midfielder Claudio Reyna, was born in Sunderland and named in The Guardian's Next Generation 2019 which listed the most exciting prospects across the globe.
The most prolific player for BVB and the spearhead of their attack is 20-year-old Erling Braut Haaland. Son of Alf-Inge Haaland (yes, the one from *that* Roy Keane challenge), Erling Braut has already surpassed his father’s legacy to many as the Leeds born striker landed the prestigious Golden Boy award for 2020 after his jaw dropping breakout year.
The 6’4’’ commanding finisher caught the eye at Red Bull Salzburg and Borussia Dortmund snapped him up after seeing what potential the Norwegian had. Haaland has not disappointed since his arrival and he’s set numerous records on his way to firing Dortmund to the Champions League knockout stages, including becoming the fastest player ever to reach 15 goals in the competition.
If Haaland can stay fit and the other youngsters can maintain their form, Dortmund have a real chance of progressing to the latter stages of the tournament and potentially lifting the trophy in Istanbul.