Real 11-2 for Champions League hat-trick

Real Madrid became the first team to successfully defend the European Cup in the Champions League era and they are 11-2 to make it a hat-trick of titles in next season's competition.

Not since Bayern Munich's all-conquering side of 1974-76 has a team managed to three-peat and bookmakers are not getting carried away despite Real Madrid producing a superb second-half performance to thrash Juventus 4-1 in Cardiff.

Real were 11-2 at the outset to lift the trophy and there is no change in the price for next season with Bayern Munich also 11-2 behind 5-1 market leaders Barcelona.

Zinedine Zidane's side kept just one clean sheet in their 13 European matches but they were able to consistently outscore the opposition with Cristiano Ronaldo's final brace seeing him overhaul old rival Lionel Messi in the Golden Boot battle.

Ronaldo, a 9-2 shot for the Golden Boot ante-post, drifted to 50-1 with bet365 after a disappointing group-stage campaign, but he roared back into contention with successive hat-tricks against Bayern and Atletico Madrid before completing the comeback in Cardiff.

Those who backed Ronaldo to justify favouritism in the first goalscorer and man-of-the-match markets were left celebrating and the former Manchester United wing wonder shows no sign of slowing down in front of goal.

Ronaldo's successful switch to a main central striking role could keep him at the top for a few more years yet and this is not an ageing side - the Portuguese ace was the oldest member of the starting 11 on Saturday at 32-years-old.

Luka Modric, who was outstanding in the second period as he passed Juve into submission, and Sergio Ramos (both 31) are the only other outfield players over 29, while there is talk of big-money summer moves for goalkeeper David de Gea as well as Monaco's superstar teenage forward Kylian Mbappe to improve the squad.

The 12-time European champions are ultra-consistent in the tournament having reached the semi-finals for each of the past seven seasons and it's a surprise to see the reigning La Liga title holders trail Barca in the betting for next season's competition.

Much more surgery is needed at Barcelona compared to Madrid, although it will be interesting to see whether newly-appointed manager Ernesto Valverde can find improvement in the Catalans without the need for huge reinforcements.

Bayern will feel they let Madrid off the hook in the quarter-finals, missing a penalty and having two players sent off across the two legs, so expect a bold bid from the German champions next season.

However, Arjen Robben is 33 and Carlo Ancelotti must cope with the retirements of Philipp Lahm and Xabi Alonso.

Juve, 10-1 to go one better next season, have lost their last five European Cup finals and time is not on the side of Gigi Buffon (39), Andrea Barzagli (36), Dani Alves (34), Giorgio Chiellini (32) and Saturday's sensational scorer Mario Mandzukic (31).

Max Allegri's domestic double winners were built to do the business this season and they may struggle to reach next year's final in Kiev, while England's bid is five strong with Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham involved.

A Spanish winner is 6-4 with bet365 from an English champion which is available at 5-2.


 

Match in Focus

19:00 TODAY SKY

Villarreal v Espanyol

Home Win Draw Away Win
Key stats
  • Villarreal have scored exactly two or three goals in eight of their last nine home matches
Expert verdict
Having already played Sevilla and Barcelona in their first four matches, Espanyol are arguably in a false position in the table. Certainly the 2-1 win over Celta last time will have lifted morale, although it was a far from convincing success. However, Villarreal are strong at home and didn’t concede a goal against Espanyol over two games last term.

 

Competitions

Whether it's the Johnstone's Paint Trophy or the Champions League, Soccerbase will ensure you don't experience a big cup upset

Teams

Agonising over Aberdeen?
Yearning for Yeovil? Our database is crammed with every football club you could possibly wish for

Players

A plethora of players ranging from Adebayor to Zamora. All you need to know to find out who is the best bet to score next

Referees

Card-happy control freak?
Astute arbiter? Make the right decision on any referee with the help of our specialist pages

Managers

From Allardyce to Zola, our massive manager database, with histories and win ratios, is sure to get your vote of confidence