The heavyweights of European football learned their fate in the Champions League draw, with some of the continent’s biggest clubs pitted against each other in the group stage.
Holders Liverpool, record winners Real Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus and German giants Bayern Munich all face difficult group stage challenges – but the group of death is without a doubt the combination of Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund and Inter. Only two of the three traditional European powers can get through to the next round.
As always the group stage has a major impact on the betting for the Champions League, as some clubs see their chances of lifting the trophy in May increased, and some see their chances take a severe blow.
The group of death
It wouldn’t have been a huge surprise to see one of Barca, Dortmund or Inter lifting the trophy in Istanbul on May 30, 2020. All three – the Catalans especially – have strong European pedigree and have only recently reached the final. Barca last won the Champions League in 2015, Inter five years before that and Dortmund were beaten finals in between, in 2013. And yet the group stage draw means each one of the trio will be fighting for their future in the competition.
Joined in group F by Slavia Prague, Barca remain second favourites to win the Champions League outright, priced at 5/1 by 888Sport. Dortmund are further back in the running, at 40/1 with 888Sport while Inter are considered outsiders by the bookies – a massive 50/1 with 10Bet. But that perhaps fails to take into account the summer of rebuilding at San Siro, with Antonio Conte, Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez all brought in, and could offer some value – if they can get out the group.
The Premier League sides
Liverpool, last season’s Champions League winners, meet a familiar face again when Rafael Benitez brings Napoli to Anfield. The draw for group E – Liverpool set to meet not only the Italians but also Red Bull Salzburg and Genk – has in fact seen the Reds’ price drift with some popular sportsbooks, despite what looks to be a favourable group. They’re 7/1 at 888Sport to repeat last season’s success.
Premier League champions Manchester City are considered Champions League favourites with a number of operators, and they shouldn’t have too much trouble from any of Atalanta, Dinamo Zagreb or Shakhtar Donetsk. 888Sport prices Pep Guardiola’s side at 3/1.
Tottenham have to confront the mighty Bayern if they’re going to get through the Champions League group stage but the presence of Olympiacos and Red Star Belgrade will give Mauricio Pochettino encouragement of at least finishing second. Spurs are out to 25/1 to win the tournament at 888Sport, while Bayern are 12/1 at 10Bet.
The fourth English side, Chelsea, have the most challenging group of them all. Evenly matched with Ajax, Valencia and Lille, Frank Lampard’s first taste of managing in the Champions League will be a stern one. But the Blues should get through the group stage, and are 30/1 at 10Bet to go on and win the competition.
The best of the rest
Real Madrid are always strong Champions League contenders and a group of Paris Saint-Germain, Club Brugge and Galatasaray shouldn’t be too much for them. Los Blancos are though 10/1 to win the tournament at 888Sport, and that’s a good price for serial winners. PSG are 11s.
Group D sees Juventus, Atletico Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen and Lokomotiv Moscow meet and whoever tops that table will have earned their place. The Old Lady are 11/1 at 888Sport to win the tournament, with Atletico at 19/1.
And lastly, group G, which doesn’t appear to boast a possible Champions League winner. Zenit Saint Petersburg, Benfica, Lyon and RB Leipzig won’t roll over for any latter stage opponent but none are expected to go all the way. Lyon are the most likely dark horse of the four, and they’re 80/1 at 10bet.