Europe’s greatest teams will all be in action when Champions League group stage begins this week.
European heavyweights Real Madrid and PSG have landed in the same group and it will be intriguing to see who prevails. Los Blancos won this competition three times in a row between 2016 and 2018, but they never really flourish in the group stage. The best sports betting sites make Real Madrid the favourites to win Group A, but PSG might make a better bet at 5/4 to seize top spot, with Zinedine Zidane’s men qualifying in second place ahead of Galatasaray and Club Brugge.
German champions Bayern Munich are the clear favourites to win Group B after signing Brazilian superstar Philippe Coutinho in the summer. However, you would not want to write off last season’s Champions League runners-up Tottenham, who will fancy their chances of topping Group B. Olympiakos have started the season well in Greece, but the best they can realistically hope for is third place ahead of Red Star Belgrade. The top two progress to the knockout stage of the competition, while third placed teams drop down to the Europa League.
This group should be a breeze for Premier League champions Man City, who are unlikely to fear Atalanta, Shakhtar Donetsk and Dinamo Zagreb. Pep Guardiola’s side beat Shakhtar 6-0 at home and 3-0 on the road last season. Atalanta are Champions League novices, and Dinamo Zagreb might be able to pull off a stunning upset and finish second in this group.
This group pits two of Europe’s best defensive sides against one another. Atletico beat Juventus 2-0 in the first leg of their last 16 clash in 2018/19, only for Cristiano Ronaldo to bang in a hat-trick in the second leg and dump them out of the competition. Now they resume hostilities in this season’s group stage, and they should battle for supremacy, with Bayer Leverkusen and Lokomotiv Moscow battling for third place. Juventus look stronger on the road than Atletico and they should just about top this group.
Reigning champions Liverpool have a pretty smooth ride in this season’s group stage. They are up against Napoli, Salzburh and Genk, and they should finish top of the pile. Salzburg are a decent team, lavishly bankrolled by the Red Bull soft drinks empire, but Napoli are stronger and they should clinch second place. Group F
This is the group of death, featuring Spanish champions Barcelona, German heavyweights Borussia Dortmund and an ambitious Inter side. The Serie A outfit brought in Antonio Conte as manager this summer and signed Romelu Lukaku to lead the line, and they are in excellent form. Dortmund are scoring goals for fun right now, and Barcelona will be as devastating as always when Lionel Messi returns from injury. Slavia Prague are the group’s whipping boys, but the other three teams will battle intensely for the top two spots. Inter could be the team to miss out.
This is the weakest group in terms of overall quality, but all four teams look pretty evenly matched and it should be really entertaining to see who triumphs. RB Leipzig are the narrow favourites, ahead of Lyon. Benfica are next in the betting and then Zenit St Petersburg are the slight outsiders, but it looks close. Lyon have gone backwards since selling a couple of key players in the summer, while Zenit may struggle on the road, so RB Leipzig could clinch this group.
Chelsea are beginning to find form under Frank Lampard and young guns Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount could fire them to victory in this group. Ajax were semi-finalists last years, but look considerably weaker since selling key men Frenkie De Jong and Matthijs De Ligt. Valencia lack quality, as evidenced by their losses to Arsenal last season, and they have just sacked their manager. Lille are also uninspiring, so Lampard’s young Chelsea side could win this one.