Make no mistake: The rest of the teams, not Real Madrid, are the favourites

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The artificial intelligence that dictates the odds for the bookmakers was smiling with satisfaction at half-time. The oracles regarding the favourites to win this edition of the Champions League seemed, at last, to be right.

Real Madrid were being held to a goalless draw by lowly Celtic in Glasgow, proving that they do not deserve to be among the top three contenders to lift the trophy in Istanbul on June 10.

Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and Liverpool have done far more to merit such consideration.

Where is it going to stop? They did it not only last season, but the previous nine, in which, by chance, it was Los Blancos who ended up winning five Champions League titles.

You've got to get annoyed. Or you have to be practical and take it as a joke.

Forty-five minutes later, the match in Glasgow ended as so many matches involving Real Madrid and the European Cup usually do: with Los Blancos smiling while their opponents wondered what they had failed to do after rowing so hard to end up dying on the shore.

And with the bookmakers thinking that perhaps there is more to Carlo Ancelotti's team than luck or refereeing help. It seems incredible that it is so hard for them to understand that nobody, we repeat, nobody, manages the levers of this competition like this generation of hierarchs led by Karim Benzema, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos.

To those three Real Madrid legends have been added established world stars such as Thibaut Courtois, David Alaba and Antonio Rudiger, as well as a collection of ambitious youngsters such as Fede Valverde, Eduardo Camavinga, Rodrygo Goes, Eder Militao and Aurelien Tchouameni.

All these players, led by a Vinicius in world-class player mode, form a team with many technical, tactical and now also physical resources, very difficult to beat in any circumstances, no matter how adverse. It's the never stop believing motto, but brought to reality.

Real Madrid got off to a fine start, playing for ten minutes to deactivate the thrust of a Celtic side boosted by their fans. They wanted to put the game to bed but it was they who fell asleep, and they ended up being dominated until half-time, surprised by the intensity and vertical game of the Scots. To make matters worse, Benzema limped off injured in the 28th minute. The worst of nightmares.

The second half continued in a back and forth dynamic in which anything could happen. But what happened was that Valverde latched onto a ball down the flank and ran on in the 55th minute as he would in the fifth or 95th to deliver a fantastic pass to Vinicius, who scored his fourth goal in as many games.

That was the end of Celtic, as the game was over and the party began. Modric brought out his dinner jacket, Kroos the compass and even Eden Hazard joined in, with Real Madrid grabbing a 3-0 win.

But remember: the rest of the teams are the favourites, not Real Madrid. Take this advice and smile.

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