It’s difficult to foresee any shocks when predicting the two clubs to emerge from each of the eight Champions League groups this season. Inter Milan and Napoli were the highest profile also-rans last season, just losing out to finalists Tottenham & Liverpool respectively on goals scored or head to head away goals.
Group A looks a formality, with Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain drawn with Galatasary and Club Brugge. A Real/PSG straight forecast can be backed at 11/10, while PSG to top the group and Zinedine Zidane’s men to finish second comes in at 11/8.
Olympiakos and Red Star Belgrade also look like also-rans in Group B, which should be dominated by Bayern Munich and Spurs. The latter look decent value to top the group at 7/4.
Manchester City’s 1/16 odds of topping Group C look justified, in a pool also containing Atalanta, Shakhtar Donetsk and Dinamo Zagreb. The Italians are favourites for the runners-up spot in a group where eight points should be enough to progress. We wouldn’t rule out the Ukrainian champions, though, at 5/4 to qualify.
Juventus, at 8/13, and Atletico Madrid, at 6/4, should compete to top Group D which also contains Bayer Leverkusen and Lokomotiv Moscow. An Atletico/Juve straight forecast at 15/8 represents a decent punt.
It’s difficult to see anyone but champions Liverpool and Napoli emerge from Group E, where Salzburg and Genk will surely make up the numbers. However, there’s not much value – at 1/3 – for them both to qualify.
Group F is arguably the most intriguing with Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund and Inter Milan vying for the top two spots, and Slavia Prague aiming to cause an upset or two along the way. If you are underwhelmed by Barca’s start to the season a speculative punt on Dortmund and Inter qualifying could be interesting at 8/1.
It’s not exactly a Group of Death, but Group G could be the most competitive. RB Leipzig, Lyon, Benfica and Zenit St Petersburg will all be happy with the draw and we’re edging towards the Portuguese champions and Red Bull edging out Lyon at 10/3.
Finally, Chelsea are favourites at 10/11 to top Group H, which also contains last season’s semi-finalists Ajax, as well as Valencia and Lille. We’re still not sure about The Blues under Frank Lampard so we’re going to take a punt on the Dutch and Spanish sides to progress at 9/2.
You have to go back to 2006/07, when Kaka topped the charts with 10 goals for AC Milan, to find a year when Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo haven’t at least tied for top spot as Champions League Top Goalscorer.
They’re no spring chickens but it’s difficult to look beyond the deadly duo again at 5/1 and 6/1 respectively.
However, there is some value in the market. Man City find themselves in a generous group where goals surely won’t be hard to come by. Raheem Sterling is in the form of his life and his start to the season surely warrants him being mentioned in the tier just below the two aforementioned superstars. City were the top-scoring club in last season’s competition, despite falling at the quarter-final stage and we like the look of the England star at 12/1 to top the scoring charts.
Despite winning the competition, Liverpool’s front three had a relatively disappointing season in front of goal, with just 13 between them – one more than Messi’s total. That compares to ten each for Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino in the 2017/18 campaign. While the Egyptian, at 10/1, can never be discounted we reckon Mane represents better value at a best price of 22/1 while Firmino certainly looks enticing at 50/1.
Champions League 2019/2020 Winner
Man City may be favourites, at 10/3, but surely holders Liverpool look better value at 13/2 to retain the trophy? However, it’s a difficult market to predict – who would have foreseen Ajax’s run to the semi-finals or Spurs finishing as runners-up last season – but English clubs’ dominance could well continue. With Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp’s side among the three favourites, we believe an English winner at 6/4 is well worth a punt.
If you fancy an Italian winner, that comes in at 13/2 but you’re better off backing Juve at 12/1 with no other Serie A side among the serious contenders.
Atletico have started the La Liga season in fine style, with three wins from three and look a decent each-way bet at 20/1 to win it and as high as 9/1 to reach May’s final in Istanbul. Of course, Real and Barca can never be discounted – despite disappointing starts to their domestic campaigns – and a return of the Champions League trophy to Spain for the seventh time in ten years is an eminently backable 5/2.
Plenty of outsiders have reached the semi-final stage in recent years, most notably Ajax, Roma and Monaco, and we’re plumping for Borussia Dortmund to make the last four this year at 6/1.