Football News

Raphael Varane: Man Utd have the ability to win the Champions League

By Harry Edwards

Published: 16:50, 2 October 2023

Manchester United centre-back Raphael Varane has insisted that the Red Devils do have the ability to win the Champions League this season.

The Red Devils are three-time European champions but haven’t won the Champions League since 2008, being losing finalists in 2009 and 2011. Since that second defeat to Barcelona at Wembley, Man Utd have only reached the Champions League quarter-finals twice, with three last 16 exits and two in the group stage.

Back in the Champions League this year, Man Utd were handed an interesting group alongside Bayern Munich, Galatasaray and FC Copenhagen, though they didn’t get off to the best start. Away at the Allianz Arena, Man Utd fell to a 4-3 defeat to Bayern Munich, losing their Champions League opener for the second consecutive time.

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Man Utd have never lost their first two Champions League group stage games in a season, bouncing back from their 2-1 defeat to Young Boys in 2021 by beating Villarreal 2-1 at home. This week they welcome Galatasaray to Old Trafford, with the Turkish side drawing their opening match against FC Copenhagen.

It means Man Utd sit bottom of Group A and they know a defeat could cause some early problems in their quest to return to the knockout stages. The last time the Red Devils failed to win their first two Champions League group stage games (two draws against Benfica and Basel in 2011/12) they bowed out at the group stage, only winning two matches against Otelul Galati.

So some Man Utd fans may be fearing the worst, especially given the Red Devils’ recent run. The Red Devils have lost five of their nine games across all competitions this season, including two at Old Trafford. After winning two of their opening three, beating Wolves and Nottingham Forest either side of a 2-0 defeat to Tottenham, Man Utd went on a three-match losing streak.

Arsenal beat Man Utd before the September international break, while Brighton beat them after it, and Bayern Munich added to the misery. A mini-revival occurred with wins over Burnley and Crystal Palace — the latter in the EFL Cup — but the Eagles got their revenge at the weekend with a 1-0 win at Old Trafford in the Premier League.

They have also lost six of their last 13 Champions League home matches, winning five and drawing two, as many as they suffered across their previous 80 at Old Trafford in the competition.

Champions League Outright Odds

Team Bet365
Man City 2/1
Bayern Munich 4/1
Real Madrid 11/2
Arsenal 6/1
PSG 12/1
Barcelona 14/1
Inter Milan 18/1
Atletico Madrid 20/1
Dortmund 25/1
Napoli 40/1


However, Varane, who won four Champions League titles with Real Madrid, believes his current club do have the quality in their squad to take the trophy.

“I think that competition it’s about details, you have to be efficient to win that competition,” Varane told reporters.

“I think what we can improve is to be more efficient in front of goal. We have a very low number of occasions where we concede goals, we have to create a lot to score, so that’s the reality of the top level, you have to be efficient to win big trophies.

“I think we have the quality in the squad to win the competition, but we have to improve and tomorrow it’s a great opportunity to get the first points in the competition, to move forward and improve.”

Despite sitting bottom of the group, Opta’s Season predictions have given Man Utd a 67.8% of making it through to group stage into the last 16 — though only a 10.4% chance of winning Group A. Going further, Man Utd have just a 1.5% chance of winning the Champions League this season according to Opta as things stand.

Based on Opta’s model, Porto (2.55%), Atlético Madrid (2.49%) and Newcastle United (2.34%) are all more likely to win the competition than Man Utd. While the top three favourites based on the simulation are Manchester City (32.2%), Bayern (13.06%) and Arsenal (9.3%).

Varane’s former side Real Madrid have a 7.32% chance of winning a 15th Champions League title.