Ryan Liberty previews the first matchday of the 2021/2022 UEFA Champions League campaign.
Tuesday 14 September
Chelsea 1/4 | Draw 48/10 | Zenit 10/1 (21:00)
Don’t get too caught up on this fixture, Chelsea has the squad to easily get past this Zenit side… Chelsea will win. But for more value back Thomas Tuchel’s lads to Score in Both Halves at 9/10.
Malmo 5/1 | Draw 7/2 | Juventus 9/20 (21:00)
Juventus have struggled this season; in fact, I’ll go as far as to say they are yet to put in a quality performance. I can’t get behind them at 9/20, especially playing away from home.
This first round of fixtures in the Champions League looks rather straightforward but this could be the banana skin fixture. It’s not going to be a popular opinion, but I’d say back Juve at your peril. Does Malmo have the quality to challenge this Juventus side on paper? Of course not, but not playing at home in front of a hostile crowd against a side low on confidence… I’m happy to throw some coins at the home Win/Draw Double Chance at 14/10.
Sevilla 13/20 | Draw 32/10 | RB Salzburg 34/10 (18:45)
Sevilla will look to get their Champions League campaign off to a good start when they entertain RB Salzburg on Tuesday evening. Coming into the game Salzburg have an unblemished record, winning their last five games, but with the quality Sevilla have on the pitch, I can’t justify going against the Spanish side.
Lille 29/20 | Draw 24/10 | Wolfsburg 18/10 (21:00)
Tough game to call but given the start Wolfsburg have made to their domestic season, I’m leaning toward them. The confidence that the Germans are showing at the moment could set them up for a good run in this season’s Champions League.
For security in the multiples, I would suggest Wolfsburg Win/Draw at 5/10, but if you’re having a punt on the nose: Back the away side.
Young Boys 56/10 | Draw 38/10 | Manchester United 4/10 (18:45)
Manchester United usually find these trips rather uncomfortable. Nevertheless, I can’t see the home side troubling this United team. The depth Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has accumulated is obviously the difference.
In their recent meetings, United have won convincingly and if anything, United’s record on the road might offer a little more confidence for the sceptical punter. 4/10 is fair and I would add this to all midweek multiples.
Villarreal 16/10 | Draw 26/10 | Atalanta 31/10 (21:00)
This game probably won’t get the status it deserves but trust me when I say there is plenty of quality on offer here. Both sides have enjoyed positive starts to their respective seasons. Atalanta were somewhat of a surprise package last season in Europe, whilst Villarreal earned continental silverware, beating Manchester United in the Europa League final.
For Tuesday evening though, I think a draw at 26/10 proves plenty of value and offers enough appeal.
Dynamo Kyiv 49/20 | Draw 24/10 | Benfica 11/10 (21:00)
These two sides have got off to an electric start domestically, goals have been the order of the day and for entertainment’s sake, let’s hope for nothing less on Tuesday. Benfica has never lost to their hosts, and I can’t argue that will change.
I would back the away side on the Win/Draw Double Chance + Both Teams to Score at 5/4.
Barcelona 43/20 | Draw 11/4 | Bayern Munich 11/10 (21:00)
This is obviously the game of the round. Two absolute titans of European football meet early in what wouldn’t be out of place as a Champions League final game. However, the intrigue and circumstance that surround these sides now is truly fascinating.
Barcelona is somewhat of a wounded animal; they haven’t been as dominant in recent times and are plagued by off-pitch issues. Of course, to simply write a side like Barca off would be foolish, in fact now more than ever you have a team playing for each other and with a chip on their shoulders.
Bayern Munich have got off to a decent start under their new manager, but the pressure for Julian Nagelsmann is only going to start.
Back Barcelona on the Win/Draw Double Chance, you can get around 13/20 which I think is feasible. You just get the feeling the Champions League is where Barca can make a statement again and what better way to do it than to remind everyone why we shouldn’t just relegate them to a ‘has been’.
Wednesday 14 September
Inter Milan 15/10 | Draw 24/10 | Real Madrid 7/4 (21:00)
Wednesday evening spoils us for choice, this game should be an absolute belter and you also have the Liverpool vs AC Milan game. Inter Milan have started this season exactly as they finished – attacking with width and pace and causing problems for their opponents’ defence, although their weekend draw away at Sampdoria took some of the shine of their domestic start.
Real Madrid haven’t been bad this season, and yet they still give off the feeling that they have so much more to give. They’ve got plenty of talent on their books. Vinicius Junior has been touted as the next big thing and with such claims come sizeable expectations.
I think this will be a thriller, but it ends as a draw.
Sheriff 34/10 | Draw 26/10 | Shakhtar Donetsk 8/10 (18:45)
The side from Moldova shouldn’t be underestimated, especially when playing at home. Earning wins against both Red Star Belgrade and Dinamo Zagreb without having to deal with too much defensive pressure is admirable.
Shakhtar haven’t started the season as confidently as they might have liked and if they aren’t up for it, they might be in for a shock. I’m siding with a draw. I think the game doesn’t really get going until late on and you would expect the home side to prioritize defensive solidity.
Sporting 18/10 | Draw 24/10 | Ajax 29/20 (21:00)
Ajax has been rather up and down so far this season, and although some of their scorelines have been flattering… the quality of the sides they’ve trounced domestically don’t really compare to the Champions League outfits. Sporting will come into this game off the back of a 1-1 draw with Porto.
Finding a winner in these sorts of games early on is tricky, but openness is usually prevalent on the first day of the tournament and often indicates goals. Over 2.5 goals at 17/20 is good enough for me.
Besiktas 42/10 | Draw 33/10 | Dortmund 11/20 (18:45)
Dortmund haven’t exactly shot the lights out so far this season, but you get the feeling they’ll have something to prove on this platform.
Besiktas are always a difficult outfit to negotiate on their home patch and whilst I wouldn’t be bullish about the home side causing an upset, both teams to score where both defences are far from resolute should be a banker. Get on at 13/20.
Atletico Madrid 11/20 | Draw 26/10 | Porto 56/10 (21:00)
Atletico are now looking and playing like a complete side consistently. Their defence of LaLiga has started in an encouraging way, but they were made to sweat against Espanyol this past weekend.
Of course, Porto made a nuisance of themselves last year, but I wouldn’t get hung up on that early on. Back the home side.
Liverpool 5/10 | Draw 34/10 | AC Milan 44/10 (21:00)
It’s a repeat of that special day, these sides have plenty of recent history which we needn’t expand upon here. AC Milan won’t be a walk in the park, but when you start to think of Liverpool, at Anfield, on a Wednesday evening playing in the Champions League against AC Milan – how do they not win?
That crowd and intensity will only fuel Jurgen Klopp’s men, and at the risk of even saying this, throw form and everything else out of the window. Back the home side.
Manchester City 1/3 | Draw 44/10 | RB Leipzig 7/1 (21:00)
A year ago, this game is closer and a whole lot more competitive. Leipzig unfortunately has had to go on a sort of rebuilding mission after having several players and a manager pilfered by Bayern Munich, and now face arguably the most complete side in England.
City will dominate this game in every area, the only suggestion I can make to provide some value will be City on the Half-time/Full-time Double at 8/10.
Club Brugge 11/1 | Draw 58/10 | PSG 1/5 (21:00)
If you want to have a bet on PSG on the (-2) Handicap you could get around 14/10. If you have a look at the squad PSG has assembled, you’ll find a couple names you might recognise… and then you add to this the fact that most of those recognizable names were brought in to win the Champions League you might start to feel inclined to throw serious money at it. However, it’s away from home so maybe just a couple coins ought to do the trick.
QUAD @ 11/2
Man United Win 4/10
Chelsea To Score In Both Halves 9/10
Besiktas vs Dortmund BTTS 13/20
Liverpool Win 5/10