2022-23 Champions League Betting Odds, Futures Picks: Analysis, Complete Breakdown of All 8 Groups
Julien de Rosa/AFP via Getty Images. Pictured: Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappé.
The most prestigious club tournament in world football returns this week when the 2022-23 Champions League competition begins with an intriguing 16-match slate.
Before we breakdown the opening contests, I’m going to dissect all eight groups and analyze the 32-team field. You will see my projected expected points for each club, along with some futures wager for teams to win the group or to qualify knockout phase of the tournament.
So, let's take a look at the latest betting odds to win the Champions League.
You can follow me The Action Network App to see any individual game bets I make throughout the competition.
Champions League Odds
*Odds via Bet365
I have no interest in playing Liverpool as a -300 moneyline favorite to advance, especially given its slow start to the Premier League season.
You are going to sense a little bit of a theme throughout the Champions League groups that there is some value in taking the longshot to qualify, but that club needs to capable of doing so.
By that, I mean: 1) The team has played in European competitions in previous years; 2) the side is comfortable playing without the ball, and, 3) has the attacking talent capable of threatening some of the better defense. That said, Scottish outfit Rangers fits the profile well.
Lest we forget Rangers lost on penalty kicks in the Europa League final to Eintracht Frankfurt last season. Along the way it beat German sides Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig over two legs, and throughout the entire competition had a +3.8 xGDiff overall.
Funny enough, the side did lose Calvin Bassey to Ajax funny enough and Joe Aribo to Southampton, but the core players like James Tavenier, Ryan Kent and Alfredo Morelos are still with the squad.
So, you have an experienced squad playing that can use the Scottish Premier League as a tune-up for Champions League.
Ajax also lost a lot from that team many loved so much last season. Antony, Lisandro Martinez, Ryan Gravenberch and Sébastien Haller are gone, along with manager Erik ten Hag. So, I have a little bit of a difficult time seeing it being priced as the second favorite to advance.
Napoli also lost a ton from last season, with Kalidou Koulibaly leaving for Chelsea; Fabian Ruiz departing for Paris Saint-Germain; Lorenzo Insigne jetting to Toronto FC; and, Dries Mertens leaving for Galatasaray. So, I have a hard time seeing it being around +0.71 xGDiff like they were last season.
I think this is a good group to a shot on the longshot to qualify. That said, I like Rangers at +400 to reach the knockout stage.
Pick: Rangers to Advance (+400)
Let’s talk about Atletico Madrid. Listen, I love manager Diego Simeone and believe the value in betting Madrid is it to win the UCL because of how difficult the club is to play in a knockout competition.
However, there's no way I am playing it at -110 moneyline odds to win the group. It was in the same quarter with Liverpool, AC Milan and Porto last season, which was second most difficult group. Madrid had a -0.4 xGDiff and Porto had a -0.6 xGDiff overall.
In the two matches they played, the xG edge of 2.8-2.6 went to Atléti. So, these teams were basically even in UCL play. The club did lose Vitinha and Fabio Viera in the transfer window, but all of its attacking options are still there. It also brought in David Carmo to pair alongside Pepe in the back after Chancel Mbema left for Marseille.
Atlético Madrid has made it out of the group stage over the past two UCL seasons with a combined -0.1 xGDiff in the process.
In the Portuguese Primeira Liga last season, Porto won the league with a +1.62 xGDiff per 90 minutes. By UEFA coefficients, Portugal is the sixth-best league in Europe and the gap between it and Germany isn't as big as you would think.
In fact, the gap between the Premier League and Bundesliga is further than the gap between Germany and Portugal.
Bayer Leverkusen is fun longshot, but it was only at a +0.59 xGDiff per 90 minutes in the German top flight and I have Porto projected to finish close to three points above it.
Plus, if you think about it… how many teams from Portugal made the Round of 16 last season? That would be two clubs. And how many from Germany made it? Only one. So, in my opinion, the gap between Portugal and Germany isn’t that drastic.
That said, I'm backing Porto at +300 ML odds to win the group.
Pick: Porto to Win Group (+300)
We all know the history with Barcelona and Bayern Munich. However, Inter Milan is an interesting one in this group that could potentially crash the party. I just wish its odds were higher to qualify because I can’t bet it at -110 to make the knockout phase. And I’m not laying -163 odds for Bayern Munich to win the group either.
The case for Inter is it was a +1.11 xGDiff per 90 minutes in Serie A, which was fourth in Europe's top-five leagues and it added Romelu Lukakau.
Also it was better than Real Madrid in that group last season, with a +7.8 xGDiff compared to +5.9 xGDiff and won on xG a combined 3.2-2.0 margin over the two meetings. So, the case is there for Inter, but I just can’t play it at these odds and would rather take it at +5000 odds to win the whole thing.
Brilliant ball from Koundé. Stunning finish from Lewandowski. Barca are cooking 🔥 pic.twitter.com/Wr85nDvKcW
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) September 3, 2022
As far as Barcelona is concerned, since Xavi took over as manager in November of last year, Barcelona has a +0.99 xGDiff per 90 minutes. Only Manchester City, Liverpool, Bayern Munich, Inter and PSG have been better in their respective domestic leagues, with La Liga being the clear second-most difficult European league.
Now, Barcelona added Robert Lewandowski, who was a 1.08 xG per 90-minute striker last season and that was the best mark in Europe. Not only that, but bringing in Franck Kessié, Andreas Christiansen, Jules Kounde and Raphinha without having to let go of anyone of value has made the side so much better.
You also see the type of team Barcelona became under Xavi, with much better pressing and more ball dominance. The side led La Liga in PPDA, High Turnovers and pressure success rate. It also had 167 build-up attacks and a sequence time of 12.8 overall. The only teams across Europe to have more build-up attacks were Manchester City and Real Madrid.
As you can see, I have Barcelona projected for the most points in this group, so I like the value on it to win and advance.
Pick: Barcelona to Win Group (+175)
Tottenham is going to win this group, but I want to talk about the fact two biggest fade clubs in Eintracht Frankfurt and Marseille in the same quartet!
Marseille has two wins and a one draw, with 10 goals scored off 4.9 xG and three goals allowed from 5.9 xGA this season. The club is doing it again. Yet, it does show Marseille without William Saliba is in trouble if things continue on their current path, because giving up 5.9 xG to offenses last year in Reims, Brest and Nantes is concerning.
Here is the other thing about Marseille. Last season it conceded the fewest shots per 90 minutes, box entries, progressive passes and crosses completed into their own penalty area in the French top flight, which sounds great, but it was fifth in xGA because it yielded the 10th-most big scoring chances.
Since the start of last season, Marseille is at a +0.50 xGDiff per 90 minutes, which isn’t bad, but let’s talk UEFA coefficients because France is the fifth-best league in Europe and barely ahead of Portugal. And the five-year rolling average in France is at 60.1, which Portugal is at 53.4 in the numbers.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) November 5, 2021
Well, guess which club is also in this group? That's right… Sporting Lisbon, which made the knockout stage last season in a fouraome with Dortmund, Ajax and Beşiktaş. Now, the side got pasted by Ajax twice and dominated Beşiktaş. However, over the two legs against the Black and Yellows from the Bundesliga, the club actually finished with a 2.1-2.0 xG advantage.
So, if Portugal if close to France, well then we have to compare xGDiff between Marseille and Sporting. Last season, the latter was at +1.41 xGDiff per 90 minutes, which as almost a goal better than Marseille. Its defense only allowed 0.65 xG per 90 minutes, plus it kept both of its center backs and have all attacking options back.
As for Frankfurt, I mean it won the Europa League, but had a -7.3 xGDiff in the Bundesliga last season and just sold its best attacking midfielder in Filip Kostic to Juventus. So, I will be fading this team in every match against Tottenham and Sporting Lisbon.
Backing Sporting to qualify at +200 is my favorite bet on the board. I don’t think I could love a wager more.
Pick: Sporting Lisbon to Qualify (+200)
AC Milan wasn't good in the Champions League last season. In fact, the Italian power was quite bad, but it was a difficult group with Atlético Madrid, Liverpool and Porto in it.
However, whether it deserved to win Serie A or not, the side was seventh in Europe's top five leagues at +0.74 xGDiff per 90 minutes, sitting right behind Chelsea, which was at +0.82 in the metric. Now, based on UEFA coefficients, the gap between England and Italy is pretty big, but I really don’t think Chelsea should be -300 to win this group.
The Blues don’t have a stable goal-scoring threat up top. Their midfield is aging and defensively they’re aging as well. They have outstanding wingbacks and good attacking midfielders, but this isn't a complete team.
And RB Salzburg is no slouch either. It made the Round of 16 last season and even though every year it seems to lose its two of three best players, the side always reloads. You should be on the lookout for 19-year-old standout Benjamin Sesko, who will be going to RB Leipzig next season.
Dinamo Zagreb has been a Europa League mainstay for a long time, knocking out Tottenham two years ago in Round of 16 action. Last season, it made it out of a group with West Ham United, Genk and Rapid Vienna, So, the club won’t be a complete pushover in this group.
Chelsea is overvalued, plus I only have the side projected 2.25 points above AC Milan. That said, I like the value on the Italian champions at +333 odds.
Pick: AC Milan to Win Group (+333)
This might be the most fun group of the Champions League.
Real Madrid is a heavy favorite and will probably win this group, so who really wants to talk about the Spanish giant?
I want to discuss Celtic, which is back in the UCL for the first time since 2017. In the Scottish Premier League last season, Celtic finished with 2.6 xG per 90 minutes, but only allowed 0.95 xG per 90 minutes. It was in a difficult Europa League group with Leverkusen and Real Betis. The side performed admirably in that group, only having a -0.4 xGDiff overall.
The thing I love about Celtic is it has everyone coming back. What happens quite a bit in European soccer is the best players from smaller clubs will get sold to a bigger outfits, which puts teams like Celtic in an impossible position having to replace the player it relied on so heavily during a title campaign.
Celtic is the exception, though, having kept its entire team together, along with manager Ange Postecoglou, who has interest from some EPL clubs. The side has been on fire so far, beating opponents by a combined 25-1 score, including a 4-0 win over heated rival Rangers in the Old Firm Derby.
Celtic are 3-0 up against Rangers at HT in the Old Firm derby.
Jota’s chip for their second was so smooth 👌
— B/R Football (@brfootball) September 3, 2022
RB Leipzig should improve after last season, especially after getting Timo Werner back from Chelsea. It has a +1.01 xGDiff per 90 minutes under manager Domenico Tedesco, but there's no way I am laying -450 odds for the Reds to advance.
Shakhtar is going through really tough times right now. It has been a Champions League mainstay out of Ukraine for a long time now, but because of the war, its domestic league had to be cancelled last season. The side has lost a lot of its best players and is going to be forced to play all of its home matches in Warsaw, so it won't even have a home-field advantage.
I have Celtic projected almost on par with RB Leipzig, so I love the Scottish champion to get out of this group.
Pick: Celtic to Advance (+275)
Manchester CIty should run away with this group, but there's no way I'm laying -450 ods. The Cityzens had the best xGDiff across Europe last season in the most difficult league in the world at +1.63 per 90 minutes. Now, the Cityzens added Erling Haaland, which makes them even more frightening.
Funny enough, Haaland gets two matches against his former side Borussia Dortmund, which is the second favorite, to get out of this group. Dortmund made a lot of offseason acquisitions that should make it better than only being a +0.58 xGDiff per 90 minutes team (fourth in Bundesliga) a season ago. However, there is no value in laying -200 for the Black and Yellows to qualify.
— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) September 3, 2022
Sevilla is going to be a team I will be fading throughout the Champions League. Last season in La Liga, it finished with a +23 actual goal differential, but only a +5 xGDiff overall. That +5 xGDiff was 39th among Europe's top five leagues. Not to mention the side just sold both of its starting center backs in Diego Carlos and Jules Kounde this past transfer window.
Copenhagen only had a +0.36 xGDiff per 90 minutes in the Danish Superliga, with Denmark being the 18th-most difficult league by UEFA Coefficients. I have it rated as the third-worst UCL team, so unless I get crazy value on the side against Dortmund or Sevilla, I will pass on that wager.
Bottom line, there's no value anywhere in this group.
Paris Saint-Germain will most likely win this group, but I want to take a moment to let everyone know how overrated it is in the betting market.
Last season, the Parisians had a +1.00 xGDiff in Ligue 1, which was fifth among clubs in Europe's top five leagues behind Manchester City, Bayern Munich, Liverpool and Inter Milan.
The French top flight is the fifth-most difficult league in Europe by UEFA coefficients, but they’re the second favorites to win the UCL title even after last season when in eight matches they only had a +2.7 xGDiff overall.
Yes, PSG has the best front three in the world, but the rest of the team isn't on par with the rest of the favorites to win this competition. So, I will be looking to fade the Parisians on an individual match basis.
Juventus is another very overrated team in this group. In Serie A last season, the club only had a +0.35 xGDiff per 90 minutes, which was 26th in Europe's top five leagues. It was also poor in the Champions League last season.
If you remove the two matches against Malmö, Juventus had a -1.5 xGDiff against Chelsea, Zenit Saint Petersburg and Villarreal. So, why is it -550 odds to advance out of this group?
Benfica literally advanced from a group with Bayern Munich and Barcelona last season, then beat Ajax in the Round of 16 matchups. If you remove the games against Bayern Munich and Liverpool from its Champions League run last season, the club had a +0.8 xGDiff overall. That is incredibly impressive for non-big five league club.
In the Portuguese Primeira Liga last season, Benfica finished third with a +1.14 xGDiff per 90 minutes. Through its first five matches of this season, the side has been on an absolute tear.
All of our 8 summer signings:
— We Love Benfica (@WeLoveBenfica) September 1, 2022
Benfica also made some incredible summer signings that should improve it even more and make it extremely dangerous in the Champions League.
I have Maccabi Haifa power-rated as the worst UCL team. The longshot only has a +0.75 xGDiff in the 22nd-most difficult league in Europe and the lowest total squad transfer value at $13 million, per transfermarkt.com.
Since I have Benfica projected only 0.45 points behind Juventus, I love the value on it at +380 odds to advance from of this quartet of teams.
Pick: Benfica to Advance (+380)