Champions League 2017-18: Groups A-E Verdict

Group A

 

An ideal section for Manchester United, who will be annoyed to have dropped two points at Stoke but pleased with a start that’s seen just one defeat, that coming against Real Madrid. Romelu Lukau has slotted in very nicely into an attack that’s now got more pace to break down teams whilst there has been encouragement in the midfield too with Paul Pogba looking set to kick on after a slightly below par campaign thanks to the arrival of midfield anchor Nemanja Matic. Put them in an accumulator with Madrid in Group H, and Napoli to go through either first or second in Group F.

Benfica are second favourites but backing them to go through is uneasy given that they’ve lost Ederson and Victor Lindelof to Manchester City and Manchester United and Nelson Semedo to Barcelona. They have started well this season but also have just one clean sheet in six games during the campaign. CSKA Moscow have not qualified from a group since 2011 and made few changes to the side that finished bottom of their section last season.

 

Basel have also lost some big names including Matias Delgado, Urs Fischer, winner Seydou Doumbia and 13-goal Marc Janko so there’s no real appetite to get with them.

 

Advice: 3 pts Manchester United to win Group A, Napoli to Qualify, and Real Madid to win Group H (3.07)

 

Group B

 

A match to get top spot between Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich which should give us plenty of goals and fascinating ties. Neither makes enough appeal at just short of odds on to back to go through and this looks a watching brief unless one wants to back Celtic to finish third ahead of Anderlecht. Brendan Rogers’s side have made Parkhead a feared journey for many as they showed Manchester City last season, and after a superb unbeaten domestic campaign, they are still all together with no major departures.

 

Anderlecht have not started the season well and whilst this is a better unit than the one that competed in the Group stages two seasons ago, defeats at Charleroi and Sint-Truiden do not bode well for their chances.

 

Advice: No bet.

 

Group C

A fascinating group with three big teams going against eachother, but on the evidence of what’s been seen so far, Chelsea and Atletico ought to fancy their chances of making it to the last 16 over Roma. Chelsea have made a quick start to their title defence this season with Alvaro Morata impressive in scoring three headed goals, and their win over Tottenham at Wembley and then Everton at Stamford Bridge were two impressive displays. It remains to be seen how they take to Europe, but Atletico have started the season sluggishly and the same can be said of Roma, who were taken apart pretty comprehensively by Inter on their own patch.

 

An inability to add players could hamper Atletico whilst the loss of four of Roma’s best players and their managers gives Chelsea a fine opportunity to go through, perhaps top, but it looks like a watching brief.

Advice: No bet.

 

Group D

 

After a strong start to their domestic campaign, and given their quarter final meeting last season, it was tempting to back Juventus to beat Barcelona to the top spot, but they travel to Spain with a lot of injuries to face a side that should feel good after a couple of thumping wins. That could put them on the back foot but the first two ought to make it comfortably.

 

Olympiakos or Sporting are shooting for the Europa League but even that is a tough contest to call so the ground holds little betting value.

 

Advice: No bet.