UEFA Champions League: Matchday 1 Preview

UEFA Champions League: Matchday 1 Tuesday Preview

Matchday One gets underway with some exciting ties to look forward to. Champions, Liverpool, kick-start their defence at Napoli, while tournament favourites and English Premier League winners, Manchester City do battle in Ukraine to face Shakhtar Donetsk as they prepare to conquer Europe for the first time. The tie of the round sees Real Madrid travel to France to take on Paris Saint-Germain, but before that, Dortmund host Barcelona in the pick of Tuesday’s action. It’s been an eagerly-anticipated wait to the group stages of the UEFA Champions League, so without further ado, let’s get straight into it!


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Tuesday 17 September

Group E

Napoli 2/1 
Draw 5/2 
Liverpool 12/10 
(21:00)

We kick-start the new season with 2018/19 Champions League holders, Liverpool, making the trip to Naples to face Carlo Ancelotti’s Napoli. The Italians will fancy their chances after beating the Reds at this stage of the competition last term, while Jurgen Klopp’s men are undoubtedly weaker after losing their star goalkeeper, Alisson Becker, due to injury. Napoli have also strengthened with the signings of Hirving Lozano and Konstantinos Manolas, while Liverpool failed to make any major signings during the transfer window. With home advantage, I’d put my money on the Naples at a valuable 2/1.

RB Salzburg 7/10 
Draw 3/1 
Genk 34/10 
(21:00)

The Red Bull Arena will draw back its curtains as Salzburg and Genk go head-to-head in this group-defining Tuesday night encounter. With Napoli and Liverpool expected to battle it out for top spot, these sides will need to take as many points off each other in hope of securing that third spot in the group, or perhaps, upsetting the party and breaking the top two. Salzburg have got their campaign off to a flyer, winning their opening six matches in the league, while Genk have only won three of their opening six encounters. The home win seems the way to go here at 7/10.

Group F

Inter Milan 7/20 
Draw 15/4 
Slavia Prague 7/1 
(18:55)

High hopes will be on Inter Milan this season after the appointment of Antonio Conte, while the Milan-based club also boosted their squad with the acquisitions of Romelu Lukaku, Diego Godin and Alexis Sanchez. Slavia Prague are clearly the minnows of the group as Dortmund and Barcelona meet each other a few hours later. For the Czechs, I suppose its all about taking it game by game, hoping to avoid humiliation by taking some points off the big guns in their home ties. At the San Siro, though, there’s only one winner. Inter Milan are a banker and should be included in all midweek multiples.

Dortmund 22/10 
Draw 26/10 
Barcelona 21/20 
(21:00)

In Tuesday’s biggest blockbuster, up-tempo Dortmund prepare to host Barcelona at the Signal Iduna Park. Both clubs have struggles for consistency domestically this season, but the visitors, to some extent, have an excuse, with Lionel Messi missing a chunk of the action due to injury. Barca failed to snap up Neymar again, although they did manage to activate Antoine Griezmann’s buy-out clause. Dortmund made some signings of their own, re-signing Mats Hummels, German internationals, Nico Schulz and Julian Brandt, as well as Thorgan Hazard, who replaced the departed Christian Pulisic. Dortmund have a fast and fiery attack, while Barca’s defence has left plenty of gaps for the opposition to attack this season. Back Over 1.5 Home Totals at a sensible 13/10!

Group G

Lyon 15/20 
Draw 26/10 
Zenit 7/2 
(18:55)

The only other early kick-off on Tuesday sees Lyon playing host to Zenit. The hosts have weakened considerably from last season, losing Tanguy Ndombele, Ferland Mendy and Nabil Fekir. The players brought in don’t offer much confidence as well, with the club spending the most on Jeff Reine-Adelaide, who cost around €25m. In the two previous meetings between the two clubs, Zenit have won both games, scoring five goals, conceding once. Zenit have had an indifferent start to the season, but have still shown signs that they’re capable of getting a massive result on the road. Back a share of the spoils here at 26/10.

Benfica 33/20 
Draw 24/10 
Leipzig 15/10 
(21:00)

Benfica get their campaign underway at home to Leipzig, with both teams looking to start off on a high note. Despite losing their star attacker in Joao Felix, Benfica have scored the most goals in the Portuguese league, while Pizzi has got the bulk of them, netting five times. Leipzig were off to the perfect start before the international break, winning all four of their games played across all competitions, topping the standings in the German Bundesliga. They’ve kept most of their star players, while also adding the likes of Patrik Schick, Ademola Lookman and Christopher Nkunku from Paris Saint-Germain. My money is on the draw here.

Group H

Chelsea 17/20 
Draw 49/20 
Valencia 32/10 
(21:00)

Young, exciting and fearless Chelsea are welcomed back into the UEFA Champions League with a home tie against Spanish side, Valencia. The Blues have got, as mentioned, an exciting team, but results haven’t gone their way, winning once from their opening four league games. The Bats have been unconvincing and it will take a huge performance to cause any sort of an upset, winning just once in their opening three encounters. Mason Mount has been the standout player in the Blues’ squad, flourishing in the number 10 role, where he looks to emulate his head coach, Frank Lampard. I’d back the Home Totals – Over 1.5 – at a slightly better price at even money.

Ajax 11/20 
Draw 31/10 
Lille 9/2 
(21:00)

Ajax will be hoping for another fairytale season in the UEFA Champions League after reaching the final four of the competition last term. It will be a difficult test, no doubt, especially after losing Matthijs de Ligt to Juventus and Frenkie de Jong to Barcelona. The Dutch giants did manage to keep hold of Hakim Ziyech, Dusan Tadic and Donny van de Beek to name a few. Like Ajax, Lille also lost their main superstar, letting Nicolas Pepe leave to join Arsenal after netting 22 goals and 11 assists. A lot to replace over a period I’m not sure was enough for the French side. Get on Ajax at 11/20.

Wednesday 18 September

Group A

Club Brugge 19/20 
Draw 24/10 
Galatasaray 26/10 
(18:55)

Wednesday’s action starts nice and early, as South African football lovers will be tuned in closely, looking to see Percy Tau in action, with the former Mamelodi Sundowns attacker being the only participant from Mzansi. Galatasaray haven’t got off to the best of starts, winning just one of their three matches played this season, while Club Brugge are yet to be beaten this term. In the two previous head-to-head meetings, the Belgian side have drawn one and won the other, scoring three goals, while only shipping in one. Put your money on Club Brugge and move on.

Paris Saint-Germain 23/20 
Draw 26/10 
Real Madrid 2/1 
(21:00)

The humdinger of the round and undoubtedly the pick of the bunch of Wednesday sees Paris Saint-Germain host Real Madrid at the Parc des Princes. The big news surrounding this fixture is the fact that both Neymar and Eden Hazard will be fit for their respective clubs. More exciting news for the hosts is that both Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe are nearing full fitness, which will even the playing field as Madrid have Gareth Bale in their ranks as well. PSG have also added Mauro Icardi to their squad, as well as Keylor Navas, who will come up against his former side, where he lifted three UEFA Champions League trophies. At the moment, Real Madrid offer very little confidence. My money is on the hosts at 23/20.

Group B

Olympiacos 32/10 
Draw 5/2 
Tottenham 17/20 
(18:55)

After a miraculous campaign last time out, reaching the UEFA Champions League finals, Tottenham will be looking to go one better and engrave their names on Europe’s elite trophy. Up first, a tricky test awaits in Greece as they face Olympiacos. The hosts have begun their season on a high note, winning all but one of their encounters so far, which was a draw in their first game of the season which came in a Champions League qualifier. Spurs went into the international break winless in three, which showed their inconsistency, drawing at Manchester City and Arsenal, while losing at home to Newcastle in between that. Take Both Teams to Score at 17/20.

Bayern Munich 1/20 
Draw 19/2 
Red Star Belgrade 33/1 
(21:00)

The least fascinating tie of the opening matchday pits Red Star Belgrade together with Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena in what is expected to be a one-sided affair. The Serbians earned qualification after impressively beating FC Copenhagen and Young Boys in the Champions League qualifiers. Bayern are one of my personal favourites to win the tournament and I’m expecting the likes of Thomas Muller, Robert Lewandowski and Philippe Coutinho to get the ball rolling in attack and score plenty. Back the Germans to Win Both Halves at 6/10.

Group C

Shakhtar Donetsk 15/2 
Draw 17/4 
Manchester City 3/10 
(21:00)

Tournament favourites, Manchester City, have plenty of hopes rested on their shoulders ahead of the upcoming Champions League campaign. Is this finally the year that City conquer Europe? They’re much better from the team that came so close last season, strengthening in the full-back areas, as well as in the midfield anchor role, with Spain’s most robust midfielder, Rodri, joining the Citizens. Last season when these sides met in the group stages, Pep Guardiola’s men won 3-0 away and 6-0 at home. Take Man City to Score In Both Halves at 9/10.

Dinamo Zagreb 51/20 
Draw 24/10 
Atalanta 21/20 
(21:00)

The other encounter in Group C sees Dinamo Zagreb and Atalanta looking for some early points on the board. In the two previous encounters between the two sides, both games ended in a share of the spoils, hopefully, the trend ends here. The Italians have had a topsy-turvy start in the Serie A, winning and losing one game apiece. Zagreb have also had an indifferent start to the new campaign, but have done fairly well in the competition so far, getting through the qualifiers with relative ease. My money is on a share of the spoils.

Group D

Atletico Madrid 33/20 
Draw 2/1 
Juventus 18/10 
(21:00)

In one of the most fascinating ties of the round, Atletico Madrid host Juventus at the Wanda Metropolitano. Being the giants of Group D, both sides will be looking to get points off each other in hope of finishing first place in the standings. Atleti have one of the best coaches around in Diego Simeone, while Juve have arguably the best footballer on the planet in Cristiano Ronaldo – a one-time rival of the Madrid-based side. Both clubs are off to a 100% record in their respective leagues, and with this being the biggest game of their season thus far, fireworks are certainly expected. Ronaldo has a brilliant record against the hosts, but I’m expecting the Spaniards to come out on top in this encounter, get on at 33/20!

Leverkusen 4/10 
Draw 7/2 
Lokomotiv Moscow 13/2 
(21:00)

The BayArena draws back its curtains for the final matchup on the menu as Leverkusen prepare to take on Lokomotiv Moscow. Peter Bosz has stuck with his young guns going into the new season and with so much interest coming in for Kai Havertz, this could be his final year at the club. Lokomotiv have a decent squad with plenty of players from the Russian team that hosted the FIFA World Cup last year, while they also have Portugal’s Joao Mario in their ranks. At a valuable 2/1, I’m backing Leverkusen to Win & Both Teams to Score.

Tuesday’s TREBLE @ 4/1
RB Salzburg Win 7/10
Chelsea Over 1.5 Goals 1/1
Ajax Win 11/20


Wednesday’s TREBLE @ 10/1
Paris Saint-Germain Win 23/20
Man City Score Both Halves 9/10
Atletico Madrid Win 33/20

Written by Jesse Nagel

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