Soccer Betting News - SA's Leading Soccer Betting Newspaper: UEFA Champions League: Matchday 1 Preview

UEFA Champions League: Matchday 1 Preview

Europe’s greatest club competition kicks off as the start of a new chapter unfolds in the UEFA Champions League. Holders, Bayern Munich, have a tricky group alongside Atletico Madrid and free-scoring FC Salzburg, while joint-favourites, Manchester City, have been pitted with Porto, Marseille and Olympiacos. English champions, Liverpool, won’t have it easy either, squaring up against one of Europe’s most exciting teams in Atalanta and Ajax. 

Meanwhile, last season’s finalists, Paris Saint-Germain, will have to get past the likes of Manchester United and RB Leipzig in their hope of reaching past the group stages. This season, we will also get to see Cristiano Ronaldo rub shoulders with Lionel Messi in the group stages as Juventus find themselves alongside Barcelona in Group G. With so much to look forward to this week and throughout the entire tournament, let’s get straight down to business!

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Tuesday 20 October

Group E

Rennes 8/10
Draw 26/10
FC Krasnodar 33/10

Rennes and Krasnodar meet for the first time in the UEFA Champions League with both clubs making their debuts in the group stages, doing so alongside 2012 winners, Chelsea, and Europa League champions, Sevilla. Many expect this tie to be a long-term fight for third spot, but Rennes will be hoping to punch above their weight, as they’ve done in the French Ligue 1, claiming top spot as things stand. The French side also have one of the hottest talents in world football, 17-year-old Eduardo Camavinga, who is already a French international. Krasnodar haven’t had the best of starts to the new season and look set to be the whipping boys of Group E. My money is on the hosts.

Chelsea 1/1
Draw 5/2
Sevilla 51/20

Chelsea get their Champions League campaign underway at Stamford Bridge where they welcome Julen Lopetegui’s Sevilla. The Blues have had a hot and cold start to the new campaign, winning two of their opening four encounters at the time of writing, although Frank Lampard will have a near-fully fit squad to choose from this time around with Hakim Ziyech set to make his UEFA Champions League debut with the Blues, while Christian Pulisic could return as well. Sevilla have got off to a bright start this campaign, dropping points just once, where they drew 1-1 at Barcelona. Ivan Rakitic has re-joined Lopetegui’s side as the club look to continue their fine form in Europe. I fancy Chelsea to Win or Draw & Both Teams to Score here at 21/20.

Group F

Zenit St. Petersburg 8/10
Draw 26/10
Club Brugge 32/10

In one of the early kick-offs of the new Champions League season, Zenit welcome Club Brugge to the Saint Petersburg Stadium. The Russians have gone about their business as usual, leading the standings in their division, winning all four of their home games played. In that run, they’ve bagged 15 goals and let in just three. Club Brugge have one of the best form lines in the competition, winning their last five matches before the international break. Worryingly for Club Brugge, they haven’t strengthened enough, in my opinion, while Zenit have signed Dejan Lovren from Liverpool and highly-rated Brazilian, Wendel, from Sporting Lisbon. I’ll go with Zenit for this one.

Lazio 19/10
Draw 26/10
Dortmund 12/10

If entertainment is what you want, this could be the fixture to give it to you on Tuesday. Lazio, who boast one of Europe’s deadliest strikers in Ciro Immobile, welcome red-hot Dortmund to the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. The Italians haven’t been at their usual best since the start of this season, winning just one of their opening Serie A games. It seems that their squad is aging with most of their star players on the wrong side of 30. Dortmund, on the other hand, have one of the best young talents in the world, Erling Haaland, while they also managed to keep hold of Jadon Sancho. The BVB pair are a combined age of 40 years old and look to be progressing as talents the more time goes by. The Away Totals – Over 1.5 Goals – looks a solid bet here at 15/20.

Group G

Dynamo Kyiv 52/10
Draw 3/1
Juventus 5/10

Andrea Pirlo’s reign in the Champions League as Juventus boss will start in an early kick-off where his side will travel to Ukraine to face Dynamo Kyiv. The hosts have started brightly in the Ukrainian top flight, but the Champions League could prove too tricky for them to handle. Juventus have the king of the UEFA Champions League, Cristiano Ronaldo, who is the competition’s all-time leading goalscorer, while the Portuguese superstar has also won the tournament five times. Ronaldo just keeps continuing to excel in both domestic and national level, while Dynamo are also yet to win in four ties against the Old Lady, losing three times. At 5/10, backing Pirlo’s side seems the only sensible bet.

Barcelona 1/14
Draw 9/1
Ferencvaros 25/1

Ferencvaros are welcomed back into Europe’s elite competition with the daunting task of travelling to Camp Nou to take on Barcelona. Ferencvaros won the Hungarian league title and fought off the likes of Celtic, Dinamo Zagreb and Molde to return to the Champions League group stages for the first time since 1995. Barcelona have entered into a new era of the club’s history as they begin their rebuilding phase with Ronald Koeman in charge. The Spanish giants have let go of Arthur Melo, Ivan Rakitic, Arturo Vidal, Nelson Semedo and Luis Suarez, while Miralem Pjanic, Trincao and Sergino Dest are the only high-profile players they’ve brought in. With this expected to be Lionel Messi’s swansong at the club, Koeman has opted to go for a more youthful approach with Ansu Fati grabbing the headlines with his blistering start to the new season. My money is on Over 3.5 Goals at 7/10.

Group H

Paris Saint-Germain 5/10
Draw 33/10
Manchester United 9/2

Tuesday’s headline act sees last season’s Champions League finalists, Paris Saint-Germain, take on Manchester United at the iconic Parc des Princes. PSG will get a chance to get their revenge over United after the Red Devils knocked them out of the 2018/19 Round of 16, which forced Manchester United’s board to hire Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on a full-time basis. Since then, its been a rocky ride for the Norwegian with plenty of speculation doing the rounds during the international break that he could be sacked this season. The United backline have also come under immense scrutiny with Neymar and Kylian Mbappe licking their lips at the thought of coming up against Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof. PSG’s backline will also be depleted after the loss of Thiago Silva with Manchester United hoping Edinson Cavani has a trick or two up his sleeve having studied the Paris backline for the past few years. PSG to Win & Both Teams to Score is tipped here at 17/10.

RB Leipzig 7/20
Draw 17/4
Istanbul Basaksehir 13/2

All eyes will be on RB Leipzig as the German heavy-hitters will be looking to defy the odds for yet another season in the UEFA Champions League. After losing Timo Werner to Chelsea, many expected Leipzig to crumble in attack, however, Julian Nagelsmann’s side still went on to knock Atletico Madrid out of the competition and reach the semi-finals. The Red Bulls have started the season strongly, leading the standings in the German Bundesliga, while they’ve also managed to keep hold of Dayot Upamecano, also adding Justin Kluivert and Hee-Chan Hwang to the mix. Istanbul Basaksehir won the Turkish Super Lig last season and make their group stage debuts, however, after losing so much experience in Gael Clichy, Gokhan Inler and Eljero Elia, the visitors are yet to win a game this term, losing three of their opening four matches. Leipzig to Score In Both Halves is the best bet here at 17/20.

Wednesday 21 October

Group A

FC Salzburg 11/20
Draw 32/10
Lokomotiv Moscow 17/4

Wednesday’s action kicks off with an early tie in Austria as FC Salzburg host Lokomotiv Moscow. These sides will be meeting for the first time with both clubs not knowing what to expect from one another. FC Salzburg made their name in the Champions League after they became the talk of the town with players like Erling Haaland, Takumi Minamino and Hee-Chan Hwang. Now that they’ve all moved on, the Austrian champions continue to go about their business with star-striker Patson Daka filling the void left by Haaland up front. In their opening four matches domestically, Salzburg have a 100 percent record, scoring 17 times. Lokomotiv are fifth in the Russian top flight, with keeping things tight in defence being a key part of their game. Well, they’re going to be in for a shock and a half when they face Salzburg. Back the Austrian champs to Score in Both Halves at 5/4.

Bayern Munich 11/20
Draw 33/10
Atletico Madrid 17/4

Wednesday night’s main event pits Atletico Madrid in the same cage as Champions League winners, Bayern Munich, as Hansi Flick and Diego Simeone will battle it out at the Allianz Arena. Two teams with contrasting football tactics as Flick loves a high-tempo, attacking game, while Simeone would rather opt for a more pragmatic, cautious approach. Both systems have proven to be successful in their own way, but time will tell who will master this tie on the day. Its fair to say that Bayern have weakened with the loss of Thiago Alcantara, Philippe Coutinho and Ivan Perisic, while even though Atletico Madrid lost Thomas Partey, they’ve signed quality players in the form of Luis Suarez and Lucas Torreira. My gut feeling suggests an upset is on the cards here. Atletico Madrid are tipped on the Win/Draw Double Chance at 13/10.

Group B

Real Madrid 1/4
Draw 5/1
Shakhtar Donetsk 9/1

Zinedine Zidane will be looking to reclaim the UEFA Champions League trophy as he gets his campaign underway when Real Madrid host Shakhtar Donetsk. Strangely, Los Blancos have not made one signing during the transfer window, although plenty of players walked through the exit door, most notably Gareth Bale, James Rodriguez and Reinier. Shakhtar Donetsk have had an indifferent start to the new campaign, enduring a five-game unbeaten run, although they are winless on the road this term. In their two previous meetings with Madrid, the Spanish giants put four past them in each encounter. I’ll put my money on the Home Totals – Over 2.5 Goals – at 8/10.

Inter Milan 13/20
Draw 29/10
Monchengladbach 38/10

Inter Milan will get their Champions League campaign underway when they host Monchengladbach at San Siro. After many years of turmoil, Inter, with Antonio Conte at the helm, will be confident of restoring the club back to its glory days. The Nerazzurri narrowly missed out on the Serie A title by one point and started this season off on the right note, winning two of their opening three matches, scoring 10 goals. Inter have also strengthened in key areas, signing Achraf Hakimi, Aleksandar Kolarov and Arturo Vidal. They’ve also kept hold of their most prized asset in Lautaro Martinez, while goal-machine, Romelu Lukaku, continues to lead the line. Monchengladbach, so far, have failed to live up to last season’s hype, winning just one of their opening three matches. Back Inter here at 13/20.

Group C

Olympiacos 14/10
Draw 21/10
Marseille 2/1

Marseille’s return to the Champions League begins with a tough trip to Greece to face Super League champions Olympiacos. After guiding the French side to second place in Ligue 1 – their best finish in seven years – former Chelsea and Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas will be looking to lead his team out of a difficult group that includes Manchester City and former club Porto, where he led them to Europa League success in 2010/11. As for Olympiacos, they’ll be desperate to avoid a repeat of last season where they dropped down to the Europa League, but I’m expecting a rough start for Pedro Martins' side. Marseille are worth a punt at 2/1 but the safer option is to back them on the Win/Draw Double Chance at 5/10.
Manchester City 1/4
Draw 47/10
Porto 15/2

Manchester City host Portuguese champions Porto to kick off their group stage fixtures. Pep Guardiola's side, who lost to Lyon in the quarter-finals last season, are once again looking to win a competition that has so far eluded them and they will consider themselves favourites to progress to the knockout stages. Porto have already tasted defeat in the Primeira Liga this season and they should make easy 
pickings for the Citizens. Back City on the (-1) Handicap at 13/20. 

Group D

Ajax 38/10
Draw 32/10
Liverpool 6/10

Premier League champions and 2019 Champions League winners Liverpool will start their Group D campaign away to Ajax on Wednesday night. Despite the tie being played in Amsterdam, Jurgen Klopp's men are strong favourites to beat their Eredivisie opponents, especially with Hakim Ziyech and Donny van de Beek no longer with the Dutch side. Erik ten Hag’s side will fancy their chances at the Johan Cruijff Arena, but the Reds, chasing their seventh European crown, should outclass them here. The away win at 6/10 is the way to go. 

Midtjylland 17/4
Draw 7/2
Atalanta 5/10

Tournament debutants Midtjylland face a stern test on Wednesday when they host free-scoring Atalanta of Serie A. The Bergamo outfit took both Italy and Europe by surprise surpassing their already impressive 2018/19 campaign, replicating their third-place finish in Serie A – this time scoring 98 goals in their 38 games – and reaching the Champions League quarter-finals. Midtjylland play in the Danish Superliga, which they won in the 2019-20 season. Domestically they have had to overcome teams of bigger sizes than themselves, so they will be well used to being the underdogs and will look to thrive as the pressure will be on the Italian outfit. A tight affair is expected, with Atalanta tipped to grind out the victory.

Rennes Win 8/10
Dortmund Over 1.5 Goals 15/20
Leipzig to Score in Both Halves 17/20

Salzburg to Score in Both Halves 5/4
Atletico Madrid Win/Draw 13/10
Inter Milan Win 13/20

Written by Jesse Nagel