Russ has provided a great preview for the groups that kick off later today, including some ante post group betting. It’s sometime difficult to work out how champions from different leagues will fare against each other, but the below preview should give you a hint into who should do well, and who will struggle in Europe’s premier club competition.
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GROUP E: Chelsea (England), Juventus (Italy), Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine) and Nordsjaelland (Denmark)
Chelsea go into their Champions League campaign as holders, but history suggests it will be more than tough for them to defend their title. No team have ever retained the Champions League, an incredible statistic that shows just how tough this competition is to win. As Chelsea showed last season you have to ride your luck along the way to even get close to winning, but that’s part of the beauty of the competition.
This is an interesting group, where Chelsea will come up against a couple of very tricky sides. Italian giants Juventus who are former 2 time winners and 5 time runners up come into the campaign with an incredible unbeaten league season behind them. Many people are calling the Italians ‘dark horses’ and they are expected to cause a few upsets along the way. Shakthar are no pushovers either with previous impressive runs, they know all about the Champions League and most teams will have been happy to avoid a tough trip to the Ukraine when the draw was made . Nordsjaelland finished as Champions of Denmark for 1st time in their history last season and will be looking forward to mixing it with some of the best teams in Europe but are expected to struggle in what is a very competitive group.
Value bets for Group E:
Juventus to win the group @ 2.6 @ BlueSquare.
Juventus 1st Chelsea 2nd @ 3.1 @ Ladbrokes.
Nordsjaelland to finish bottom of the group @ 1.15 @ Ladbrokes – BANKER
Group F: Bayern Munich (Germany), Valencia (Spain), Lille (France), BATE Borisov (Belarus)
Bayern Munich will be looking to repeat last seasons Champions League campaign but will be looking to go one further and win the trophy they so agonizingly lost on penalties. Valencia are regulars to this competition and will go into the group fully expecting to qualify, something that they should be able to do. Presuming Bayern qualify easily, which is to be expected, Lille will be the main threat to Valencia’s qualification hopes, but start this campaign minus their star man from last season – Eden Hazard. BATE Borisov can be an awkward side to beat in their own backyard but they are very poor on the road and realistically, this group will be all about trying to pinch 3rd spot for them to seal a Europa League spot.
Value bets for Group F:
Bayern/Valencia Dual Forecast (any order) @ 1.53 @ BetVictor – BANKER
BATE to finish bottom of the group @ 1.36 @ Ladbrokes – BANKER
Group G – Barcelona (Spain), Benfica (Portugal), Celtic (Scotland), Spartak Moscow (Russia)
Barcelona rightly go into this tournament as favourites and have done so for atleast the last 6 years. The addition of Jordi Alba has near enough completed what most people are calling the greatest club side of all time. Barcelona are obvious strong favourites to top this group so it’s all about finding who will finish 2nd. Benfica although without Belgian starlet Alex Witsel who was sold to Zenit recently in a big money deal look most likely to take 2nd spot. Although everyone in this group will not be looking forward to the away trips in Russia and they could throw up the odd upset. Celtic are expected to really struggle and look a shadow of the team they used to be in Europe after losing Rangers from there league it has really effected the standard of there play.
Value bets for Group G:
Barca/Benfica straight forecast (1st/2nd) @ 1.91 @ PaddyPower.
Celtic to finish bottom of the group @ 1.57 @ Ladbrokes – BANKER
Group H: Man United (England), Braga (Portugal), Galatasaray (Turkey), CFR Cluj (Romania)
Manchester United will be looking to bounce back in this competition after their worst campaign in years last season which saw them make a rare early exit. With the signings of Robin Van Persie and Shinji Kagawa they looked better prepared to make a challenge for the trophy they have won 3 times. With United looking likely to top the group, it’s probably going to be between Braga and Galatasaray for the runner-s up spot. Both Braga and Galatasaray are fairly strong sides at home so it will all be about how they fare away from home they will determine their fate. Cluj, much like BATE in Group G will go into the group knowing they will struggle to finish anywhere but 4th, but will have one eye on sneaking Europa League qualification.
Value bets for Group H:
Braga to qualify @ 2.00 @ BetVictor.
Cluj to finish bottom of the group @ 1.5 @ Ladbrokes – BANKER
Champions League BANKER 4 fold:
Nordsjaelland, BATE, Celtic, Cluj all to finish bottom of the group @ 3.7 @ Ladbrokes.