Matchday One of the UEFA Champions League kicks off this week with much-anticipation after the group stage draw was announced late last month. After a dominant season in England, Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City have been priced as the tournament’s favourites, while Juventus’ odds have dropped drastically after Cristiano Ronaldo’s big-money move from three-time consecutive winners, Real Madrid. After reaching the final of Europe’s elite competition last season, Liverpool have been handed with a tricky group, alongside Paris Saint-Germain, who they kick-start their campaign against, as well as Napoli and Red Star Belgrade. Tottenham also face stern opposition in Barcelona, PSV and Inter Milan, while Group H will see Ronaldo return back to Manchester United, while Paul Pogba will also come up against his former employers, Juventus.
Tuesday 18 September
Atletico Madrid 17/20
Europa League holders, Atletico Madrid, kick-start their Champions League campaign with a tough test away to Monaco. This will be the first meeting between these two sides in UEFA competitions, but the Spanish giants will have the upper hand after snatching Monaco’s most prized asset, Thomas Lemar, in a deal which cost them around £52 million. Monaco are on a run of six group games without a win, and despite home advantage, I’m leaning more towards the visitors. Atleti will have Diego Costa from the start of the season this time and he has proven that he is a nightmare to opposing defenders. Get on the away win here at 17/20.
Club Brugge 33/10
Borussia Dortmund 15/20
Another tricky encounter in Group A awaits us as Club Brugge host Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday night. Brugge have won both their previous home games against Dortmund, while BVB also failed to win any of their group matches last season, drawing two and losing four. The German club also failed to strengthen in the transfer market, selling a host of key players, but did manage to sign Belgian midfielder, Axel Witsel. The hosts come into this encounter in superb form, so my money will be placed firmly on them getting a result here. Back Brugge on the Double Chance at 19/20.
PSV face a daunting trip away to one of the tournament’s favourites, Barcelona, who have looked sharp so far this season. The Dutch giants are without a win in six group stage matches, while Barca are unbeaten in their last 26 UEFA home games, winning 24 times. By no means will Ernesto Valverde’s men take this clash lightly though, with Barca’s top two rivals for qualification facing each other on the same day. The home win is too short of a price to back with confidence, so back Barcelona to Win By Two Goals at 32/10.
Inter Milan 17/10
Inter Milan return to the Champions League for the first time since 2011/12, and their first test of conquering Europe once again is a tricky one against Tottenham on Tuesday evening. Mauricio Pochettino has done a fine job at the Spurs helm with his charges being the only London club in Europe’s elite competition this season. Inter have made some stellar signings in the transfer window, most notably Radja Nainggolan. Meanwhile, Spurs didn’t utilise the transfer market at all, becoming the only club to not sign a player during the window. Still, Spurs could argue that they have more class than their opponents here. At even money, Over 2.5 Goals looks the best bet here.
Red Star Belgrade 13/2
Red Star Belgrade make their group stage debut against a fierce Napoli side who will be looking to continue on from last season’s brilliance. The Naples have a manager in their ranks who is well-known in the Champions League, with Carlo Ancelotti being one of only three managers to win the prestigious trophy three times in his career. The club may have lost Jorginho to Chelsea, but they’ve managed to keep hold of their fearsome front three of Dries Mertens, Jose Callejon and Lorenzo Insigne, as well as Arkadiusz Milik. Although Serbia will be a tough place to travel, I’m expecting Napoli to win this one.
Paris Saint-Germain 39/20
Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain battle it out in what is undoubtedly the biggest matchup from Matchday One, with last season’s Champions League finalists priced up as favourites to beat the French champions. Goals are almost guaranteed in a fixture like this, with Liverpool’s front three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane firing on all cylinders, while you cannot write off PSG’s Kylian Mbappe, Edinson Cavani and Neymar. The Reds are unbeaten at Anfield in 16 UEFA matches, winning 11 times. Although PSG can get a result at any ground in world football, I just think Liverpool will be too strong for them on the day. Back the home win here at 12/10!
Lokomotiv Moscow 11/4
Galatasaray will be looking to start their Champions League campaign off on a good note after a two-year absence in Europe’s elite competition. Lokomotiv’s last group stage was way back in 2003/04, and they will have a point to prove, especially with no real dominant figure in the group for them to fear. Both teams have been in indifferent form this season, but with home advantage, back Galatasaray to edge it at even money.
German heavyweights, Schalke, make their return to the Champions League after a three-year absence, while FC Porto will be playing in their eighth consecutive group stages. The hosts have the superior head-to-head record, winning two of their four previous encounters, with Porto winning just the once. The main worrying factor for Schalke here could be the fact that they went into the international break low on confidence, losing two games on the spin. Perhaps, that could be a blessing in disguise with the break coming at the best possible time for the Germans. Avoid taking a result here, instead, back Both Teams to Score at 7/10.
TREBLE @ 7/1
Atletico Madrid Win 17/20
Inter Milan vs Spurs Over 2.5 Goals 1/1
Liverpool Win 12/10
Written by Jesse Nagel
Short term investment plans advice