Bettors have expressed concerns over the inexperience of this year’s entrants, but the four clubs that have qualified for this season’s edition have spent a combined £400 million over the summer. What’s more, a very kind draw in the group stages offers Leicester City, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal and Manchester City an excellent opportunity to progress to the knock-out stages.
Not unlike their title pursuit last season, nothing is expected of Claudio Ranieri’s side and thus they should flourish in an unpressured environment. And the fans will certainly enjoy their season travelling around Europe – not least because they have been handed pleasant city breaks to Bruges, Copenhagen and Porto.
Porto’s dreadful 2015/16 campaign saw them finish third and 15 points behind champions Benfica, but they still represent the toughest challenge for Claudio Ranieri. Porto beat Chelsea 2-1 at the Estadio do Dragao last season in the Champions League and have advanced from the group stages twice in the last five years.
Copenhagen have only made it this far three times in their entire history, whilst Club Brugge are making their first appearance in ten years; neither team is more qualified than Leicester, and thus the English champions will fancy their chances. In front of a raucous crowd, Leicester should be able to collect several wins against both of these clubs. Over 9.5 points is available at 1.746 *and looks worth a wager.
Mauricio Pochettino will be delighted with the simple group his team have been handed and thus will expect qualification. Spurs have only played in the European Cup once since 1962, but reached the quarter-finals under Harry Redknapp in 2011.
In front of a raucous crowd, Leicester should be able to collect several wins, which makes Over 9.5 points a good betting opportunity.
Bayern Leverkusen is certainly the most difficult fixture for Tottenham. The German outfit did not lose a single game in Europe last season, despite facing the likes of Barcelona, Roma, and Villarreal. Pochettino’s team are unlikely to finish above Leverkusen, but should still squeeze into the second round. The tricky ties against Leverkusen make under 10.5 points, priced at 1.746*, the most valuable betting opportunity.
Monaco were thrashed 4-1 by Spurs in last season’s Europa League and have not notably improved since then, whilst CSKA Moscow are traditionally the whipping boys in the Champions League group stages. Spurs must collect six points from the Russians to ensure safe passage to the last 16.
Arsene Wenger’s record in the Champions League has never been particularly good, but in recent years he has struggled to even get out of the group stages. Arsenal have not topped the group since 2011/12 and have only advanced to the last 16 via goal difference in two of the last three seasons.
Paris St-Germain will almost certainly top the group this time such is their tremendous strength in depth and the excellent European record of new coach Unai Emery. Arsenal’s poor away form in Europe makes defeat in Paris likely.
However, they should win a straight fight for second place with Basel. However, the Swiss champions will play gritty defensive football that could cause an upset similar to their 3-1 win over Roma last season.
Despite significant spending in the summer window it seems likely that Arsenal’s European faltering will continue, making under 10.5 points at 1.840* look like a good option.
Pep Guardiola’s match-up with former club Barcelona has grabbed the headlines in Group C, but Manchester City should comfortably qualify regardless of their results against Luis Enrique’s side.
Pep’s only previous trip to the Nou Camp since leaving the club in 2012 was an embarrassing 3-0 defeat as Bayern Munich manager two years ago. Another calamity is certainly possible (big games involving Guardiola are notoriously difficult to predict) but they should be able to match Barcelona on home territory.
Borussia Monchengladbach lost 15 league matches last season and finished with just 55 points from 34 games in the Bundesliga. They have shown significant improvement since Andre Schubert took charge, but are still unlikely to make an impact in Europe this year. Similarly, Celtic will largely find themselves out of their depth against such elite opposition. City should win all four of these games, making over 10.5 points a valuable betting opportunity at 1.943*.
Manchester City to win group C is priced at 3.650* and to advance from the group is 1.210*. Guardiola’s astute management makes them one of the favourites to win the whole thing.
Get the best Champions League odds at Pinnacle, the ultimate bookmaker with the highest limits and lowest margins. Read the updated artucle to discover who will win the champions league?