UEFA Champions League preview


Tonight sees the return of the UEFA Champions League, with reigning champions Liverpool in action in Italy as they travel to Napoli, one of the few sides who beat the Reds last season. But the best markets in the Champions League are always the futures bets, especially ahead of Euro 2020. Here are six areas where you can invest some money in the pretty solid hope that your betting account will be boosted by May at the latest.

Champions League winner 

uefa-champions-league-previewThe hardest task is always picking a winner. While Liverpool were not favourites to win the tournament last year, they triumphed with ease in one of the poorest final sin recent memory, overcoming a Tottenham side that played like a shadow of the side we’d all cheered to victory in the quarter and semi-finals.

While Liverpool look good value to retain the Champions League at 7/1 (best price), we like the 12/1 on offer at most places for Juventus to break their 23-year drought. In that time, the Italian side, nicknamed the Old Lady, have lost in no less than five finals.

However, having brought in the mercurial talent of Cristiano Ronaldo and, perhaps more importantly, the defensive nous of Matthijs de Ligt, a player who did for Juve in the quarter-finals last season, the team who have won the last five Italian titles may just have enough to finally get over the line in the Champions League for the first time since 1996.

Top goalscorer 

If Juventus are going to win the Champions League, then surely Ronaldo should be backed at 6/1 to be top goalscorer. Except he shouldn’t. The Champions League is a competition where the best are pitched against the best, where giants clash for the greatest club prize of all… but not until the knockout stages. It’s all about how many goals are scored in the group stage, and by who.

For that reason, and with his club form being so good at the moment, it’s hard to look anywhere else other than Raheem Sterling at 12/1. Manchester City have draw Group C, which is the very opposite of the old cliché of a ‘Group of Death’.

Consider the life-enhancing nature of shooting practice against their opponents – new boys Atalanta, poor travelers Shakhtar Donetsk and Dinamo Zagreb. There’s no group quite as easy, and with Sergio Aguero likely to be rested more than the youthful Sterling, he’s terrific value at 12/1 to top the charts.

Nationality of winner 

Consider this your covering bet for the six you’ll make. Last season saw two English teams both make the final. But it could have been even better with a favourable quarter-final draw, three of the four semi-finalists could well have been English.

At 6/4, the odds aren’t great, but there’s a very strong chance at least one side who get to the final – and don’t rule out Chelsea performing miracles – will be from the land of tea and crumpets.

To reach the semi-final

While English clubs are likely to play a big part in the destination of the Champions League trophy this season, and both Barcelona and Real Madrid will be dangerous, one of the teams to watch out for could hail from Germany. No, not Bayern Munich.

Borussia Dortmund are already proving great value in domestic competition and for the first time since Jurgen Klopp was their manager, they have a shot at becoming the best side in Germany at home and in Europe. With a favourable draw, players such as Jadon Sancho and Marco Reus could prove themselves in the toughest competition.

Group B winner 

Easily the best bet of the futures markets, however, is Group B’s offering of Tottenham Hotspur to top the group at a best price of 7/4. With a transitional Bayern Munich the top seeds in their group and makeweights Olympiakos and Red Star Belgrade lining up for beatings at White Hart Lane 2.0 and their own grounds alike, Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli should fill their boots.

Group H winner

With Chelsea favourites to top this group, we prefer Ajax, last season’s semi-finalists and still a fantastic side, to get the job done in style and top the group. Valencia are not as strong as might be assumed, and Lille are the whipping boys of the group, so it essentially becomes a two-legged play-off for top spot between Chelsea and Ajax.

Recent records, inexperience in the competition as a manager for Lampard and Ajax’s squad sticking together apart from the De-partures of De Jong and De Ligt, we’re going Dutch.