Champions League Matchday 1 Soccer Predictions (1/2)
UCL Picks Tuesday – Matchday 1
The wait is finally over! European football returns with a bang as some of the biggest clubs in world football lock horns in the first week of the UEFA Champions League group stage. Juventus’ trip to Barcelona is the highlight of the round and provides Lionel Messi and company a chance at redemption after the Italian champions knocked them out of last season’s competition. All of the fixtures are listed below followed by our in-depth analysis (odds courtesy of Bet365).
With sixteen games in total over two big European nights, you are sure to find a wager that works for you. Make sure you check out our UEFA Champions League betting guide for tips on all the different markets and how to increase your chances of winning.
Group A – Manchester United vs Basel
United’s return to the Champions League will commence with a home fixture against the Swiss champions, and should not provide too much of a test for the Red Devils on paper. However, Old Trafford is still not the fortress it once was and visiting teams actually relish the opportunity to play at one of the world’s most iconic stadiums.
Although historical significance isn’t always worth considering when discussing European matchups, it is worth noting that United have never defeated Basel in Manchester.
Ok, so they have only played on two occasions (for two draws), but Basel fans will travel with optimism, especially since the Swiss side defeated United in their last meeting in 2011, which knocked them out of the group stage. But Man United have started the 2017 season in fine form and will be the firm favourites to kick off their campaign with a win. At -600, they won’t make you too much money, so perhaps try a parlay bet with one of the other matches below.
Group A – Benfica vs CSKA Moscow
Portuguese champions Benfica will host CSKA Moscow in a match that is absolutely critical to each team’s progression to the knockout stages. With Manchester United predicted to top the group, there is essentially one spot in the next round available to three teams.
CSKA’s trip to Lisbon will be one of the longest that any team will need to make during the competition, and this may have a detrimental impact upon the side’s performance. While they drew against the Portuguese side on their one and only trip to face Benfica (way back in the 2005 group stage), they will be up against it here and the smart bet is a win for the home side at -163.
Group B – Celtic vs Paris Saint-Germain
Celtic are the first team in the Champions League to welcome the irresistible force that is PSG. The French powerhouse has assembled one of the most frightening attacks in world football, with Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Edinson Cavani leading a lineup that has already amassed nineteen goals in five games in the French Ligue 1. The Scottish Champions are a decent side but will be absolutely no match for the Parisians.
Celtic’s 2016 campaign ended with just three points from a tough group that contained Manchester City and Barcelona, and their plight in this season’s Champions League appears to be equally ill-fated. They will take heart from their performances against City – they drew both fixtures against the sky-blues – however will also need to quickly forget the 0-9 aggregate scoreline against a Barcelona side featuring Neymar. PSG are -450 and almost certain to win – perhaps look at a parlay with Manchester United to increase your outlay.
Group B - FC Bayern Munich vs RSC Anderlecht
The other fixture in Group B appears to be just as one-sided given the gulf in class between German champions Bayern and Anderlecht, who won the Belgian domestic league last season. Bayern will be desperate to win and win well against Anderlecht to ensure the fate of their final group standing stays in their hands – it will surely come down to the matches between the Germans and PSG.
This fixture is also at the home of the German side, which gives Anderlecht even less chance than Celtic. The odds of -1200 for Bayern pretty much suggest that you should not bother with a bet – even a parlay bet here won’t be too profitable. You will have more luck in the handicap or total goals markets – 4-0 is our pick for this one.
Group C – Roma vs Atletico Madrid
While Chelsea will have a cake walk when they host Azerbaijani newcomers FK Qarabag, Atletico travel to the Italian capital to face Roma in a match that will go a long way towards determining who will progress to the knockout rounds.
Roma are rated the third-best team in the group, and will be desperate to take as many points as they can when they face Madrid and Chelsea on their home turf. The match will be the first ever between the two sides, and the pair have only just got their domestic league campaigns underway, so it is hard to get an accurate read on the potential outcome. Atletico boast the better squad on paper and their ability to lock down Antoine Griezmann is a huge boost to their credentials.
You can get good value on both teams to win, and don’t forget the draw is also a huge possibility, but we’re going to go with Atletico, who are currently paying +175 for the victory.
Group D – Barcelona vs Juventus
This is the biggest match of the round and will really set the tone for the European season.
The pair last met in the quarter-finals of the 2016/17 Champions League competition and Barcelona were unable to break Juventus down in 180 minutes of football, losing 3-0 in Italy and held to a scoreless draw at the Camp Nou. To put that into perspective, Barcelona played 30 matches at home last season and failed to score in just one other match.
Both sides have kicked off their respective domestic campaigns with three wins from three starts and will be at pretty much full strength for the battle. If the bookmakers are to believed, Barcelona are heavy favourites, as indicated by their -138 price. However Juventus will come to Spain with a solid game plan, as they did last year, and will be extremely tough to break down.
While the +360 for Juve is tempting, the value pick here is the draw at +275, which the Italians will see as an achievable (and good) result away to their biggest group rivals.
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