The Champions League started on Tuesday and if we're honest we know who is likely to win. In one sixth of the group stage, FiveThirtyEight offers defending champions Bayern Munich a chance of repetition of 26 percent, followed by Manchester City (15 percent), Barcelona (9 percent), Liverpool (8 percent) and PSG (8 percent). However, PSG's chances of winning dropped three percentage points after a disgruntled loss to Manchester United and Real Madrid dropped from 6 to 4 percent after a 3-2 home loss to Shakhtar Donetsk.
Bayern looked more than a favorite in Wednesday's 4-0 win over Atletico Madrid, but with two defeats considered "top six favorites" there is plenty of room for the lower tier rivals to pretty much draw far to get ahead. In addition, all tournaments except the hardest ones cause surprises. Tottenham Hotspur made it to the final in 2019, while RB Leipzig, Lyon, Ajax, Roma and Monaco have made somewhat unexpected runs into the semi-finals over the past four years.
There are twists and turns along the way, so with that in mind, let's talk about some teams that could be responsible for some major twists and turns.
The term "sleeper" can mean a lot of different things – sleeper to win over? Sleeper to leave the group stage? – So let's talk about teams that fit every possible definition. These teams are not likely to win the title, but they are more than capable of either knocking out your favorite team or becoming your favorite in the coming months.
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Sleeper to win the whole thing
Title odds per thirty-five: 4 percent
First game: defeated Istanbul Basaksehir 2-0
Next game: at Manchester United (October 28)
Although Julian Nagelsmann reached the semi-finals of the Champions League in August, he was stuck in pot 3. Thanks to United's excitement over PSG, FiveThirtyEight now offers the Red Bull squad a better chance of promotion (63 percent) than PSG (62 percent). . A win in Manchester next Wednesday would put them in the perfect position to win their group.
The absence of former star Timo Werner, who is now at Chelsea, likely hurts RBL's chances, but without him they have shown no signs of slipping. You started the Bundesliga season with 10 points from four games. They controlled Basaksehir from the first step and had to accelerate pretty quickly.
RBL attacks from everywhere. In five league and cup games, seven different players have scored and 16 have logged either a key pass or a template. Midfielder Angelino (four goals) and striker Yussuf Poulsen (three) are successful, and the team have only won 45 minutes against injured winger and captain Marcel Sabitzer so far. We'll see if he's ready for the trip to Manchester, but RBL is once again proving worthy of big boy status.
Even if Timo Werner is gone, do not write off Julian Nagelsmann's RB Leipzig in this year's Champions League. Photo by Maja Hitij / Getty Images
Sleeper to reach the final
Probability of reaching the final per thirty-five: 6 percent
First game: Draw against Borussia Mönchengladbach, 2-2
Next game: in Shakhtar Donetsk (October 27)
Failing to take full advantage of Real Madrid's defeat, Antonio Conte and Inter drew against Gladbach despite having an advantage of 3.5-1.5 xG. It was unfortunate, but it was also a confirmation that this team is fun as hell.
Inter almost won Serie A last year and have been almost undeniably better than Juventus or Barcelona since the coronavirus restarted this summer – two teams with far stronger odds. Their only defeats in the last three months were against Sevilla in the Europa League final and against hot AC Milan last Saturday.
They have kept most of last year's squad intact, adding both full-back Achraf Hakimi and veteran midfielder / enforcer Arturo Vidal. They were really good last year and this time they have more pieces.
The Nerazzurri, along with Atalanta and RB Leipzig, were by far the proven teams in Pot 3 of the draw and are in a chaotic group – FiveThirtyEight gives Inter, Shakhtar and Real Madrid a chance of 51-59 percent advance. However, a win at Shakhtar next week could not only give them good chances of promotion, but also a solid chance to win their group and get a cheap tie in the round of 16.
Sleeper to reach the semifinals
Chances of reaching the semi-finals per thirty-five: 15 percent
First game: Draw with Chelsea, 0-0
Next game: Rennes (October 28)
I know, I know: wrong tournament. Sevilla is a Europa League king who has won six times since 2006. So it is easy to assume that they will finish third in their group, end up in the knockout round of Europa and do a run.
This time, however, they have a real chance to make some noise in the UCL. After all, they have done that before – they reached the quarter-finals in 2018 and hardly fell on Bayern Munich. Now they have drawn a draw against their top Group E challenger in Chelsea. The Blues and Rennes both remain exciting teams, but the road to winning Group E is pretty straightforward.
Besides … they're pretty damn good. They brought in far more than they sent in the transfer window, they gave Bayern a possible extra overtime loss in the UEFA Super Cup, and while their goalscoring form left them a little behind in the La Liga game – after three goals they've only had since then scored two goals – her xG numbers are solid and her passing play is great. And in an offensive-friendly group, they have the strongest defense, led by Diego Carlos and Jules Kounde.
Sleeper reaches the quarterfinals
Chances of reaching the quarters per thirty-five: 18 percent
First game: beat Marseille, 1-0
Next game: in Porto (October 27)
At the top of the Greek Super League are a few teams that can do little damage in Europe, but Pedro Martins & # 39; Olympiacos have only lost three league games in the last two seasons. They took points from Tottenham Hotspur in last year's Champions League, then beat Arsenal in the Europa League knockout games before falling narrowly to the Wolves. In this year's Champions League play-off round they defeated Cyprus’s Omonia to qualify and while the lead (2-0) wasn't dramatically impressive, all the other stats were: they left Omonia 45-12 behind and generated 4.2 xG to 0.7 etc. And now you have three points from a game in the group game.
Olympiacos are a fun mix of leathery old veterans – former Marseille attacking midfielder Mathieu Valbuena (36), former Bayern full-back Rafinha (35), former Watford full-back Jose Holebas (36) and former Granada striker Youssef El-Arabi (33) all started against Marseille – and top-aged talent such as the attack on midfielder Kostas Fortounis (28) and Wednesday's top scorer, Ahmed Hassan (27).
This is a tough, physical and not intimidated team. Even if they can't steal points from Manchester City in Group C, they have more than talent and identity to work their way into the knockout round.
Sleeper to reach the round of 16
Odds of winning the knockout round per thirty-five: 21 percent
First game: Draw with Krasnodar, 1-1
Next game: in Seville (October 28)
Rennes missed a prime opportunity by drawing only with the weakest side in Group E, Krasnodar. They took the lead in the second half and then gave it back immediately. But hey, that kept their chances low enough to call them sleepers!
Can the French phenomenon Eduardo Camavinga Rennes lead to the knockout rounds at the tender age of 17? Photo by Catherine Steenkeste / Getty Images
After finishing third in last year's abbreviated Ligue 1 season, qualifying for the Champions League for the first time, Rennes started this season with 13 points in the first five games, before hitting the stars Edouard Mendy (Chelsea) and Raphinha (Leeds United) lost the Premier League. The next batch of stars is already in place, however, and if they gel they could improve as the group stages progress.
Julien Stephan's squad brought Juventus defender Daniele Rugani and Inter Milan full-back Dalbert on loan, and newcomer Serhou Guirassy has already scored three goals in Ligue 1. And they still have the 17-year-old Eduardo Camavinga phenomenon, whose presence – and uncanny ability to do so – makes them a must-watch team.
Whether they advance or not, their two group matches against Chelsea – November 4th in London, November 24th in Rennes – are an absolute blessing if you like things like "scoring" and "having fun attacking football".
Sleeper to reach the round of 16
Odds of winning the knockout round per thirty-five: 32 percent
First game: Draw against Lokomotiv Moscow, 2-2
Next game: at Atletico Madrid (October 27)
The second largest team on the Red Bull totem pole had a lead of 1.1-0.7 xG over Lokomotive on Wednesday, but suffered a disappointing draw … and thanks to Atletico's massive defeat against Bayern, their chances of advancement increased .
The spreadsheets love Salzburg: They occupy 19th place in the FiveThirtyEight club ranking and 22nd place on EloFootball.com. They lost Hwang Hee-chan to Leipzig – and, of course, Takumi Minamino to Liverpool and Erling Haaland to Borussia Dortmund last January – but the next generation of stars are ready for the UEFA spotlight. The 22-year-old Patson Daka has scored eleven goals in just nine games this year and scored more than half of Salzburg's xG on Wednesday. Hungarian starlet Dominik Szoboszlai (19) scored the goals of the day against Lokomotiv and Sekou Koita (20) is excellent. And now the American midfielder Brenden Aaronson (19) comes on board.
It's safe to say that the scouting team at your favorite Salzburg club has been watching and observing for some time. While working with Bayern and Atletico makes advancing difficult, they have the ball control game to get the favorites into trouble. A win next week would put them in a strong position to move forward.
The ultimate sleeper
Odds of winning the knockout round per thirty-five: 3 percent
First game: lost to Atalanta, 4-0
Next game: in Liverpool (October 27)
Okay, no, Midtjylland will probably get stuck. FiveThirtyEight ranks 136th overall and their chances of promotion are better than Basaksehir's. With Liverpool, Atalanta and Ajax you are in what is perhaps the most aesthetic group. Your goal differential is already -4. But it's a story that they are here. Call her a sleeper in our hearts.
Midtjylland is owned by former professional gamer and analytics enthusiast Matthew Benham (who also owns Brentford FC) and won his first Danish Super League title in 2015. In the knockout rounds of the 2016 Europa League, he lost to Manchester United. After years of knocking on the door, they eventually qualified for the Champions League group stage by unbalancing a solid Slavia Prague with an exciting late surge of three goals in seven minutes.
Like Salzburg and Rennes, Midtjylland is developing a reputation as a world-class scouting and development club – that is, bigger clubs are ready to pounce if a younger player looks good, and the foursome of Anders Dreyer, Sory Kaba, Awer Mabil and Frank Onyeka ( four shots, 0.6 xG against Atalanta) are a lot of fun.