Football Betting - Champions League Group Stage

The UEFA Champions League is back in action. Barcelona and Chelsea are the betting favourites this year and the are now big rivals in this tournament. Both teams are in the same group so it could be an explosive contest between them. The Champions league format is: 32 teams compete in the group stage, separated into eight groups of four. The winners and runners-up of each group move on to the knockout stages, the third-placed teams are put into the UEFA Cup third round, and the fourth-placed teams are then eliminated. The following is an analysis of each group with predictions and odds for each Champions League group winner.

Group A: Barcelona (1.85), Chelsea (2.25), Werder Bremen (14.00), Levski Sofia (251.00)
Perhaps the Chelsea-Barcelona rivalry will not be so intense at this early stage. Both clubs will move on from this group and there is a good possibility they will encounter each other again at an advanced stage of this tournament. Chelsea look clearly wobbly this season. Their formerly unsolvable defence looks a bit more slack. However unlike the past few seasons, with two English Premier League titles, this year coach Jose Mourinho's unambiguous ambition is to win the Champions League. But Barcelona are arguably the stronger team here. They score buckets of goals and should destroy Werder Bremen and Levski Sofia, and they can score against Chelsea too. At slightly below even odds, Barca are worth a bet to win this group.

Group B: Bayern Munich (2.25), Inter Milan (2.63), Sporting Lisbon (7.00), Spartak Moscow (41.00)
Inter Milan are stronger in depth and quality and after the Italian football scandal were given last year's Serie A title. Sporting Lisbon are a tough team, but Inter should defeat them and they are priced at attractive odds here. One small concern though is Bayern Munich tend to score lots of goals against weaker teams. The Bavarians might win the group on goal difference if they are tied on points with Internazionale, so overall a tricky group to wager on.

Group C: Liverpool (1.60), PSV Eindhoven (5.50), Bordeaux (6.00), Galatasaray (11.00)
Despite being so heavily favoured, many people will feel Liverpool are still worth a bet to win this group. They are a disciplined team and won the Champions League in 2005. Coach Rafael Benitez is qualified at this level of football and should steer his team to group victory with ease. PSV are a much weaker side than last year. They will not even dominate the Dutch Eredivisie, and should perform at a much lower level in the Champions League than they have in the past few years. Galatasaray and Bordeaux are just along for the ride and have no chance of finishing first here.

Group D: Valencia (1.80), Roma (2.50), Shakhtar Donetsk (21.00), Olympiakos (30.00)
Roma were installed as 3/2 underdogs to win this group. But they remain favourites to win this season's Scudetto in Italy. Their team is much stronger overall in Serie A, based on recent form. But the Giallorossi will have a difficult time against the Spanish element in this group. Valencia have a well organized and practiced Champions League team. They are lethal at counterattacks and stifle their rivals' offence. Both Valencia or Roma have an even chance of winning this group, so Roma would be the value choice for wagering purposes. Watch out for Olympiakos, however. They will not win the group, but are capable of surprising some of the bigger teams in their home matches.

Group E: Lyon (1.80), Real Madrid (2.63), Steaua Bucharest (11.00), Dynamo Kiev (51.00)
The relegation of Juventus has disproportionately helped Real Madrid. Spain's powerhouse team acquired several more Galacticos this summer, plus Fabio Capello - a top class coach. They are genuine challengers for the Champions League title and the Primera Liga this season. But Real Madrid must once again face a dreaded opponent in this competition: Lyon. The side from France usually do well in this tournament, yet bookmakers never give Lyon the respect they deserve. At 1.80 bet odds, Lyon are worth a punt to win Group E.

Group F: Manchester United (1.36), Benfica (7.50), Celtic (14.00), FC Copenhagen (51.00)
Manchester United were place in arguably the easiest group. But they may struggle to go any further than this stage. They are huge favourites to win the group, but there is no value in backing Man Utd. FC Copenhagen are a plucky team that surprised Ajax and kicked them out of this tournament. They are good pick to win the group at this huge price of 50/1 odds. Benfica are strong team in the Portuguese league and can do well in the Champions League this year. They may well take second place here.

Group G: Arsenal (1.60), Hamburg (10.00), Porto (10.00), CSKA Moscow (11.00)
This is one of the tougher groups to predict. Arsenal shocked the Champions League last season, reaching the final and surprising the European football world. This season, however, they are less powerful. Arsenal aren't comfortable playing in their new stadium yet. It seems the Gunners players are not yet used to each other. Considering those factors, it may be worth picking another team. CSKA Moscow won the UEFA Cup two years ago and can bet on at big odds to finish first in the group. Moscow is an daunting place for traveling teams and CSKA have the ability to take three points from their opponents in their away games.

Group H: AC Milan (1.30), Lille (7.00), AEK Athens (26.00), Anderlecht (34.00)
AC Milan should win this group without any problems. They can defeat almost any team and sides like AEK, Lille and Anderlecht will pose little danger to the Rossoneri. Lille are a decent team in the French football league and may manage a home draw against Milan. AEK Athens also boasts an intimidating home ground, but have little chance on the road. Anderlecht are out of place in this tournament and are unbackable. But even at such low odds, Milan look like a good wager.