UEFA Champions League Odds & Picks: Best Group Stage Bets and Futures
Marco Bertorello/AFP via Getty Images. Pictured: Paulo Dybala and Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Champions League group stages kick off on Tuesday for the 2019-20 season. This is the best club competition in European soccer, and I really wanted to write about my thoughts on the group stages, as well as note my futures bets to win the cup.
The format features eight groups and four teams in each group. There are six group-stage games for each team, facing every other club in its group home and away with the top two advancing to the knockout stages.
This stage of the competition can be quite chalky, but I am going to try to find some value. Let’s break down where the value is in the group stage, as well as what to look at when betting futures for this season’s Champions League.
Group Stage Bets
RB Leipzig to advance +115, to win Group H +450
My favorite pick that may be less obvious to some is RB Leipzig, who are priced at +115 to advance and +450to win the group. I think both give bettors great value.
Julian Nagelsmann is one of the most sought after managers in Europe at just 33 years old and will likely leave for a bigger club in the near future. He took Leipzig to the semifinals of last season’s Champions League, knocking out Tottenham first in the Round of 16 and then Atletico Madrid in the quarterfinals, the latter of which was without former star striker Timo Werner. Some might be scared off this time around by the German international’s move to Chelsea, but I still am very bullish on Leipzig.
The two heavy hitters in this group are PSG and Manchester United. The Parisians are the class and should advance. United, though, I’m a bit worried about. If they played today on a neutral site, I would favor the Reb Bull-backed side to beat the Red Devils. I love Leipzig to advance at +115, and I will also sprinkle a little bit on them to win the group at +450.
Juventus to win Group G +120
This pick is more a fade of Barcelona, but I do like Juventus at plus-money to win the group. Yes, Cristiano Ronaldo will miss at least Matchday 1 after his positive COVID-19 test during the international break, but I’m not too worried about Juve’s first match, which is away to Dynamo Kyiv.
I don’t think Barcelona should be favored over a side of Juventus’ quality, and these odds should be a pick’em. I will take the +120 all day.
Barcelona are in a transition phase right now. The Blaugrana just lost, 1-0, to Getafe in domestic play with most of its best possible squad available. Lionel Messi is obviously one of the greatest of all-time, but this Barca team has too many holes and hasn’t played well frankly in a long time.
Both clubs have new managers, but I just would favor Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala in attack, along with Juventus’ ever-stingy defense, over what Barcelona has going on right now.
Chelsea to win Group E -129
This one might take some trust to go along with, but I think it’s the right pick. The favorites in Group E are Chelsea and Sevilla, who are +140 to top the group.
Now, I love that Sevilla are kings of the Europa League, having won the tournament six times since 2005 including last season, and the Spanish side should advance out of the group. I just see Chelsea as the superior team.
The amount of money the Blues spent in the transfer window tells me that manager Frank Lampard and owner Roman Abramovich are looking to remain the Premier League’s top four with an aim to win the Champions League for the second time in club history. Chelsea might not be ready to win this competition this season, but there is enough talent across the field for them to top the group.
New goalkeeper Edouard Mendy could be the biggest addition with Kepa Arrizabalaga’s struggles in net, while veteran Thiago Silva should help Chelsea in defense. In attack, adding Kai Havertz and Werner from the Bundesliga, obviously, is massive. Sevilla will put up a fight in this group, but my money will be on the Blues to top it.
Dortmund to win Group F -143
This play is purely a fade on Lazio. Last season, non-penalty expected goals had Lazio ranked seventh in Serie A while their overall xG had them fifth, only six goals behind champions Juventus and Inter Milan. Non-penalty xG put them 10 behind those two sides that topped the table.
Not much was added in the transfer window, and I think striker Ciro Immobile and Co. benefited greatly from the number of penalty kicks that Lazio were award last season. I think Dortmund to win the group is cheap at -143.
Atalanta to win Group D +275
This might not be a popular pick, but I really like the value. I would make this far closer to +200.
The big force in Group D is Liverpool, and the Reds have only gained one point from their last two Premier League matches. And that was with a healthy squad.
Liverpool lost center back Virgil van Dijk to a cruciate knee injury on Saturday against Everton, and goalkeeper Alisson is out injured and might not return before the next international break in November, which would cover the first three group stage matches in the Champions League.
Atalanta made it to the quarterfinals last season, and their manager Gian Piero Gasperini is of the highest quality. I liked what they did in the transfer window and love their attacking brand of soccer. The current +275 line implies a probability of 27%, which I think is just too low. I’ll be taking a shot on Atalanta here.
I am going to have a bit of a layered approach for my futures bets in the Champions League. I typically like to take two long shots that I think have the quality to make a run to the quarterfinals, and two teams that are in the top 10 in odds that are legitimate contenders. It would make sense if those aligned with some picks above, and they do.
Here they are:
- Juventus +1300
- Chelsea +2000
- Inter Milan +3000
- Atalanta +3500
- RB Leipzig +6000
I think now is the time to take some longer shots. I can poke holes in every one of the top clubs in Europe right now.
I think it will be tough for Bayern Munich to retain its crown. Manchester City have had infamous struggles in the Champions League and haven’t looked bulletproof to start the Premier League season, while Liverpool have their injury concerns.
I think PSG may have missed their best chance to win the Champions League that season and lost Thiago Silva to Chelsea. I would not bank on Barcelona given the state of affairs there. I like Real Madrid, but think they might have been a bit overrated last season and made no significant additions to the team.
So give me two elite clubs (Juventus and Chelsea), one in the middle (Inter) and two long shots (Atalanta and RB Leipzig) that are also potential up-and-coming sides.