Champions League: Outright Preview

Champions League: Outright Preview

The 2018/19 UEFA Champions League gets underway next week with Europe’s elite competition giving us more indication why it really is the battle of the best. 

After a record-breaking campaign with Manchester City, Pep Guardiola and his team have been priced up as this season’s favourites, while three-time consecutive winners, Real Madrid, have dropped down to fifth in the betting.

It clearly has something to do with Cristiano Ronaldo as his new Juventus team find themselves third in the betting, while last season’s runners-up, Liverpool, continue to sneak under the radar at 11/1.
As always, we’ll be looking to pick out one team above the rest, while predicting the group winners can be just as tricky. Tottenham and Liverpool have been handed arguably the toughest of groups, with Spurs having to face Barcelona, Inter Milan and PSV, while the Reds come up against PSG, Napoli and Red Star Belgrade.

Group H will also make for an interesting watch with Juventus and Manchester United locking horns in that one, while Valencia and Young Boys will be no pushovers as well. Ronaldo will face United once again, while world champion, Paul Pogba, comes up against his former side in Juventus.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at who we will be expecting to come out on top in their respective groups, while the winners of the tournament will also be decided.

To Win Outright
Manchester City 5/1
Barcelona 6/1
Juventus 13/2
Paris Saint-Germain 15/2
Real Madrid 9/1
Bayern Munich 10/1
Liverpool 11/1
Atletico Madrid 12/1
Tottenham 25/1
Manchester United 28/1
Bar & Better 50/1
Group A
Atletico Madrid 5/10
Borussia Dortmund 33/10
Monaco 5/1
Club Brugge 33/1

Group A
Atletico Madrid 5/10
Borussia Dortmund 33/10
Monaco 5/1
Club Brugge 33/1

Winners: Atletico Madrid 5/10
This one I see to be relatively straightforward. As much as no team can be written off so cheaply, Club Brugge have no chance of topping this group, while both Monaco and Borussia Dortmund have been on the decline in recent seasons. That being said, Atletico Madrid have gone from strength to strength with this being Diego Costa’s first full season back at the club, while Thomas Lemar will also have a point to prove. It’s not the most eye-catching price, but Atletico should spearhead Group A at 5/10.

Group B
Barcelona 9/20
Tottenham 3/1
Inter Milan 6/1
PSV 50/1

Winners: Barcelona 9/20
Spanish teams have dominated the UEFA Champions League and this year could be another case of that. Barcelona are priced up as second favourites for the entire tournament, while there is very little value on them to top Group B at 9/20. In all fairness, they are expected to win all their home games, while Inter Milan and Tottenham are still considered to be in their building phase. PSV as well, although they could cause a few upsets along the way, progressing might be too difficult of a task, let alone topping the group. By no means will this be a walk in the park, but Barca should lead the way in Group B.

Group C
Paris Saint-Germain 9/10
Liverpool 14/10
Napoli 6/1
Red Star Belgrade 100/1

Winners: Liverpool 14/10
This is where it gets interesting. Paris Saint-Germain are admired by many, mostly because of their dynamic front three. Although they might not be better than PSG’s front three on paper, for me, no team in world football have a trio quite like Liverpool’s. The front force of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah are just too good, and although the Parisians look tough to beat, Napoli are my dark horses to progress alongside Liverpool, and, Carlo Ancelotti will have a shot at revenge after the Reds came back against his AC Milan side that night in Istanbul. It will be tight, but 14/10 seems a decent price to back Liverpool on topping their group.

Group D
FC Porto 27/20
Schalke 2/1
Galatasaray 5/1
Lokomotiv Moscow 5/1

Winners: Schalke 2/1
Group D is undoubtedly the toughest group of them all to select a winner from. Not only is neither team guaranteed to make it through, but picking a winner is even more challenging. Lokomotiv Moscow and Galatasaray could struggle away from home, while Porto can be just as disappointing at times. That leaves me with just Schalke, who have some brilliant stars in their camp, most notably Nabil Bentaleb, club-captain, Ralf Fahrmann, as well as Sebastian Rudy and Yevhen Konoplyanka. Their fast-paced football is also something I have admired in recent years. Back Schalke to come out on top in Group D at a valuable 2/1.

Group E
Bayern Munich 1/7
Benfica 15/2
Ajax 10/1
AEK Athens 80/1

Winners: Bayern Munich 1/7
Although I am expecting a slow start for them in the group stages, I can really only see one winner in Group E. Since Jupp Heynckes’ emphatic Champions League triumph in 2013, Bayern have failed to achieve that feat once again, despite hiring Pep Guardiola and Carlo Ancelotti since then. Now, Niko Kovac will have a huge task ahead of him, although they should sail through their group quite comfortably. If they were to slip up somehow, then Ajax would be my next bet.

Group F
Manchester City 2/11
Lyon 8/1
Shakhtar Donetsk 12/1
Hoffenheim 16/1

Winners: Manchester City 2/11
You get the feeling that Group F could just see the rest fight for second spot with Manchester City expected to dominate from the get-go. Personally, I am a huge admirer of this City team and their squad depth is certainly good enough to compete on all fronts. Perhaps they have been overhyped at times, and shouldn’t be tournament favourites, although in this group, no team has the expertise to challenge City for top spot. It’s not the best price out there, but it definitely easy money. Back Guardiola’s men here at 2/11.

Group G
Real Madrid 1/5
Roma 4/1
CSKA Moscow 28/1
Viktoria Plzen 40/1

Winners: Real Madrid 1/5
With all due respect, Real Madrid just have one real challenger in their quest to top Group G. Viktoria Plzen and CSKA Moscow simply have no chance for me, and perhaps too many big-name departures in recent years don’t convince me of Roma causing an upset here. Despite selling Ronaldo, Madrid have strengthened in key areas and have brought in shot-stopper, Thibaut Courtois, from Chelsea, arguably the only position they needed strengthening in. Once again, not much value for the group winners, but Real Madrid should finish on top.

Group H
Juventus 5/10
Manchester United 11/4
Valencia 6/1
Young Boys 66/1

Winners: Juventus 5/10
Apart from Groups B and C, this is arguably the next toughest group. The betting has Juventus priced up as short favourites, and as much as I’m expecting them to top the group, by no means will this be as easy as the bookmakers have suggested. Perhaps it’s the Ronaldo effect coming into play once again, although I do think its going to come down to when Juve and Man United face each other over two legs. It’s extremely tight, and even though United and Jose Mourinho have the Champions League pedigree to back them up, I see the Old Lady pipping them to top spot.

To Win Outright: Barcelona 6/1
Barcelona have been handed a tough test in Group B, and should they come out unscathed, they could go a long way into the tournament. Spanish teams have dominated UEFA competitions in recent years and with Lionel Messi playing the Spanish La Liga without being compared to Ronaldo, it may have some weight lifted off his shoulders, while there is still the likes of Luis Suarez, Philippe Coutinho, Arturo Vidal and Ivan Rakitic to help guide the Blaugrana over the line. At 6/1, this is where I will be placing my money this season.

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