Defending Champions League kings Barcelona are understandably favourites for the 2011/12 campaign, and after the draw for this year’s Group Stage, Paddy Power are a stand out price of 3.00 for back to back Barcelona successes.

The Catalan side have won the competition four times in their illustrious history and boast one of the strongest squads in the history of the game, so it’s no surprise that they are as short as 2.5 to win this year’s Champions League with Unibet.

Barcelona should have no trouble escaping from a group containing Czech team Viktoria Plzen – making their first ever appearance in the Champions League Group Stage – and Belarusian outfit BATE Borisov, though AC Milan might offer a little competition.

Rivals Real Madrid – who are second favourites for the Champions League title at a best price of 5.50 (Bet365, Paddy PowerUnibet) – have been drawn alongside Lyon, Ajax and Dinamo Zagreb.

Of the English sides in the Champions League this year, Manchester United are rated by the bookmakers as having the best chance of a successful campaign, with Unibet and William Hill going a best price of 8.00. Cross town rivals Manchester City are priced up at 15.00 by Paddy Power and SportingBet, while Chelsea are a best price of 12.00 with Unibet and Arsenal are 25.00, also with Unibet.

This is Manchester City’s first time in the Champions League and it must be said that the draw has not been especially kind to them. They will face Bayern Munich, Villarreal and Napoli.

“It’s a fantastic group”, said football administration officer Brian Marwood. “It’s going to be extremely competitive and I genuinely believe there are four teams that can compete for the two spots on an even keel.”

“We have a squad now that is blessed with great talent, spirit and endeavour and we feel we are more than capable of competing with the best in this tournament. This is new to us as a club but we have players with Champions League experience and they know what playing in this tournament is all about.”

Manchester United should easily qualify from a group that contains Romanian minnows Otelul Galati, as well as Benfica and Basel. In fact, they are no bigger than 1.03 to qualify from Group C and are just 1.25 to win the group with Paddy Power.

The Spanish sides dominate the Champions League top goalscorer market, with Barcelona’s Lionel Messi available to back at a best price of 3.75 (Paddy Power). Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo is next in the betting (5.50, Paddy Power), then David Villa of Barcelona (15.00, Paddy Power).

Here is the draw for the 2011/12 Champions League Group Stage in full:

Group A: Bayern Munich, Villarreal, Manchester City and Napoli

Group B: Inter Milan, CSKA Moscow, Lille and Trabzonspor

Group C: Manchester United, Benfica, Basel and Otelul Galati

Group D: Real Madrid, Lyon, Ajax and Dinamo Zagreb

Group E: Chelsea, Valencia, Bayer Leverkusen and Genk

Group F: Arsenal, Marseille, Olympiakos and Borussia Dortmund

Group G: Porto, Shakhtar Donetsk, Zenit St Petersburg and APOEL Nicosia

Group H: Barcelona, AC Milan, BATE Borisov and Viktoria Plzen

Here are the leaders in the Champions League betting, courtesy of Paddy Power:

Barcelona – 3.00
Real Madrid - 5.50
Manchester United – 8.00
Manchester City – 10.00
Chelsea – 15.00
Bayern Munich – 21.00
Arsenal – 23.00
AC Milan – 26.00
Inter Milan – 26.00
Porto – 29.00
Borussia Dortmund – 34.00
Bar – 67.00