Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:57 AM
CL Group - Best Bets
UEFA Champions League 2019-20 Group Stage Preview
PSG, Real Madrid, Club Brugge, Galatasaray
PSG and Real Madrid are 1/10 and 1/16 to qualify from Group A, so the interesting part will be seeing who can finish top - and at even money PSG look the best value. Although they have a poor record against big teams in the Champions League, Real Madrid still look a mess. Their start to the season has been plagued by injuries, and PSG have the advantage that they can rest key players in Ligue 1, which they are almost certain to win. Eden Hazard, Real’s marquee summer signing, will still be injured for Real’s trip to the Parc des Princes on matchday one. If PSG win that, they should be able to get the goal difference edge to win the section.
Tip: PSG to win the group at 1/1
Bayern Munich, Tottenham Hotspur, Olympiakos, Red Star Belgrade
Group B looks very similar to Group A. Two front-runners - in this case Bayern are 1/12 to qualify and Tottenham 1/5 - and it is another group where the second favourites to win the group look the best value. Spurs’s run to the final last year involved some good fortune, but their results away to Barcelona, and against Borussia Dortmund, Tottenham and Ajax shows that they really relish big Champions League games. The bulk of Bayern’s squad are past their best. Last year’s Champions League showed that English sides currently have the upper hand over their German counterparts, with Spurs beating Dortmund, Liverpool beating Bayern and Man City smashing Hoffenheim.
Tip: Tottenham Hotspur to win the group at 6/4
Manchester City, Shakhtar Donetsk, Dinamo Zagreb, Atalanta
Manchester City are the heaviest favourites to win their group of any team in this year’s Champions League at the ludicrously short price of 1/6. The fight for second place, however, could be fascinating. Shakhtar were the second seeded side and have bags of experience, but could be past their best. Atalanta, meanwhile, were hugely impressive in Serie A last season but may be handicapped by playing their home matches at the San Siro, rather than their own home ground. This leaves 8/1 shots Dinamo Zagreb as an interesting long-shot to make it through. They were impressive in the Europa League last year, making the quarter-finals, and their young side fully deserved to win their play-off against Rosenborg. At 8/1 they look the best value to come second behind City.
Tip: Dinamo Zagreb to qualify at 8/1
Juventus, Atletico Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen, Lokomotiv Moscow
Juventus came from behind to knock Atletico Madrid out of last year’s competition, with Atletico’s regular nemesis Cristiano Ronaldo proving the difference. However Atletico have started the La Liga season in great form, and with Ronaldo now approaching 35, the 6/4 on them winning the group looks appealing. Juve will be less pragmatic and more open under Maurizio Sarri, and that could play straight into Diego Simeone’s hands when their sides play each other. Neither side is that free-scoring, so Bayer Leverkusen could pinch a point off one or both of them at home, but this is yet another group where the top two look nailed on.
Tip: Atletico Madrid to win the group at 6/4
Liverpool, Napoli, RB Salzburg, Genk
Another very similar story here. Liverpool are 1/14 to qualify and Napoli are 2/9, while Genk and RB Salzburg look set to fight it out for the Europa League spot. Napoli caused Liverpool a lot of problems in last year’s group stage, winning at home and being unlucky to lose at Anfield - a result that sent them out of the competition. But Liverpool are a superior side and know the importance of winning their group. No bet in this group really stands out, but Liverpool to win the section at 1/2 is a decent, if short and obvious, pick.
Tip: Liverpool to win the group at 1/2
Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund, Inter Milan, Slavia Prague
This is the strongest group in the tournament, and you have to have sympathy for Slavia Prague to be paired with three teams who have won this competition nine times between them. Despite the section’s strength, Barcelona are still 4/11 to win the group, so the big question is who will qualify with them out of Dortmund and Inter. At the prices, 10/11 about Inter looks the best value. They should have qualified from last year’s group stage but bottled their last group game against PSV Eindhoven. The appointment of Antonio Conte will give them a new steel, and Dortmund can be too open against talented opponents.
Tip: Inter Milan to qualify at 10/11
Zenit St Petersburg, Benfica, Lyon, RB Leipzig
Benfica, Lyon and RB Leipzig will have been delighted to see Zenit St Petersburg drawn into their group. The Russian champions were by far the weakest of the pot one sides, and that makes this the closest group of the eight by far. Zenit are not the force they once were, while Benfica’s recent record in the Champions League is really poor. They failed to get out of their group last season and lost all six games in the 2017-18 season. Leipzig, under the excellent Julian Nagelsmann, and a talented Lyon side look the best two teams in this section and 5/2 about them both qualifying looks a very very good bet.
Tip: Lyon and RB Leipzig both to qualify at 5/2
Chelsea, Ajax, Valencia, Lille
Chelsea’s talented, but youthful and Hazard-less side were the second weakest pot 1 side and that also makes this group interesting. This is not a particularly hard group for the 2012 champions, but none of the games will be easy. Ajax have lost their two main starlets from their run to the semi-finals last year, Mathijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong, but the rest of the side remains and they look a cut above Valencia and Lille. Valencia have just sacked their manager, while Lille lost their talisman Nicolas Pepe to Arsenal over the summer. Expect every match in this group to be competitive, but for Chelsea and Ajax to come through in the end.
Tip: Chelsea and Ajax both to qualify at 2/1