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

19:45 TODAY BT2

Real Madrid v Liverpool

Home Win Draw Away Win
Key stats
  • Real have won just one of their last four Champions League meetings against English opposition
Expert verdict
Real Madrid have lifted the Champions League in three of the past four seasons but they could struggle to retain their crown against a lively Liverpool. Real have been the dominant force in Europe, with last year’s 4-1 thumping of Juventus in the final in Cardiff showcasing their superiority. However, Zinedine Zidane’s men have not bumped into a front three like the Reds’ often - Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane have netted 29 of their 40 Champions League goals this season - and they are vulnerable to the counter-attack.



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