October 20, 2021

Dubai Week

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Champions League group stage: experts highlight favourites and underdogs

The Champions League group stage matches kicked off in mid-September. This time, the draw was quite interesting. So it’s hard to know which team will make it into the playoff round.

Only representatives of England, Spain, and Germany have been champions in the last eleven draws. This year, however, the competition has become more challenging. PSG has assembled a formidable squad that could well challenge for the top spot in Europe. Let’s take a closer look at each side’s chances of making the playoffs and their eventual success in the tournament.

Group A

The first leg at home to RB Leipzig, Brugge, Manchester City and PSG. Belgium’s Brugge is regarded as the group outsider. According to Bookmaker Ratings experts, the team will be a points provider. City and Paris will battle it out for first and second place in the group. Based on their domestic league starts, which you can read about at https://bookmaker-ratings.com/news/, PSG looks the stronger of the two. So, with Messi, Neymar, and Mbappe in the starting line-up, the French are more likely to finish top of the table.

Group B

Group B is a group of equally strong opponents. AC Milan, Porto, Atlético, and Liverpool are all in contention to make the playoffs. Each team has a good chance of progressing to the next round from first place. However, the experts believe that Liverpool and Atlético Madrid have the best option. The Madrid team is good at outclassing their opponents in the short rounds. Liverpool loves to cause themselves problems at the start and overcome them heroically at the finish. As for AC Milan and FC Porto, they both have experience of winning trophies in the Champions League. One of them will finish third in their quartet.

Group C

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Group C is also made up of relatively evenly matched teams. There are no recognized European giants among the opponents. Besiktas, Ajax, Borussia Dortmund, and Sporting are fighting for group C. A renewed Ajax pleased their fans with big totals. Sporting are the reigning German champions, but they have taken a less confident tone at the start of the new season. Borussia Dortmund has a good chance of emerging from first place in the group. Their striker Erling Haaland scores in almost every game. Turkey’s Besiktas, on the other hand, is the strongest team in the group, with very few chances of success.  

Group D

Group D is the most predictable group. Real Madrid is the obvious contender for the group leader. Inter Milan and FC Shakhtar Donetsk will be fighting for the second playoff spot. Given that Inter lost many of their key players during the summer, experts strongly favor the Ukrainian side. The clear outsider of the quartet is the Moldovan Sheriff. Iurii Vernidub’s charges are Champions League debutants. They still need to gain experience, but they had a decent start.

Group E

The outcome of the group stage in this quartet is easy to predict. While it initially looked like there were two favorites, that’s not the case. With Barcelona in an emotional and financial crisis, Bayern Munich are the clear front-runners. The Catalans will be drawn against Benfica in joint second place. Despite Mircea Lucescu’s experience, Dinamo is the group outsider. The chances of qualifying in the playoffs are slim.

Group F

There is no shortage of interest in this quartet. Manchester United is the clear favorite to win the group. However, if we recall the Europa League final, Solskjær’s side lost to Spanish underdog Villarreal. Now, Cristiano Ronaldo has strengthened the Red Devils, and there is no excuse for losing. Former powerhouse Atalanta is a contender for second or third place, depending on their progress in the Primera Division. The underdogs are the Young Boys. Although they play regularly in European competitions, their level of play does not allow them to make the playoffs.

Group G

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The quartet consisting of Sevilla, Salzburg, Wolfsburg, and Lille is considered the weakest group. The experienced Spaniards stand out. An attacking team from Salzburg could well finish second. The French champion Lille have squandered their assets and, along with the Wolfsburg team, look weaker against the first pair.

Group H

Chelsea and Juventus are regarded as the clear favorites in this quartet. The English club is the reigning winner of the trophy. Juventus look less threatening after Ronaldo’s departure, but they should have no trouble progressing past them. Zenit St Petersburg is still the favorites to win third place. If Sweden’s Malmö finally pulls out, however, Semak’s side will have no chance to make the group.

Prediction of a winner

The main favorites are still unchanged: PSG and Manchester City. But based on the experience of previous years, it is clear that a star-studded squad is no guarantee of winning the trophy. The British club is consistently short of the bare minimum to win, and it will be difficult for the PSG mentor to establish superstar chemistry in his squad.

There are plenty of shady favorites among the candidates to win. These include Real Madrid, Manchester United, Chelsea, Bayern, Liverpool, and Atlético Madrid.