The qualifying rounds are over – it is now time to get down to business. The group stages of the 2017/18 Champions League begin this week and plenty of football fans from across the continent will be expecting their side to go far in the competition this season.
Unsurprisingly, Real Madrid are the current favourites to retain the trophy after winning the competition in each of the last two years.
However, 2016/17 beaten finalists Juventus may also be worth a glance in the betting markets at what is an appealing price at this moment in time.
Without further ado, here is my view on the eight groups and who may be worth backing ahead of match day one...
Manchester United will be quietly confident of finishing at the top of Group A after what can only be described as a favourable draw.
Benfica and Basel are capable of slugging it out with the big boys but neither should offer too much resistance. As for CSKA Moscow, the trip out to Russia is a worry but United should get the job done.
TIP: Manchester United to win the group @ 2/5
A trickier one to call. Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain will both fancy their chances of securing top spot and rightly so.
The Bavarians are one of Europe’s most successful clubs but PSG are on building something special. Expect Celtic to have one or two memorable nights at home whilst Anderlecht may be the whipping boys.
TIP: Bayern Munich to win the group @ 9/10
Again, another difficult group to predict. Chelsea may be favourites but Atletico Madrid are a different beast in the Champions League and the Spanish side could edge it.
Roma were unlucky to be drawn into such a tough group but could test both sides whilst Qarabag won’t be easy to beat on home soil either. Atletico are the ones to back for me...
TIP: Atletico Madrid to win the group @ 27/20
Barcelona aren’t the Barcelona of old and Juventus are well worth backing here. Opposing the Spanish giants may seem silly but Massimiliano Allegri’s men will be desperate to make a statement as they look to reach the European showpiece once again.
Sporting Lisbon and Olympiakos may find it tough going in what is another strong group.
TIP: Juventus to win the group @ 13/10
Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool will fancy their chances of gaining revenge on Group E rivals Sevilla after losing to the Spanish side in the Europa League final a few years ago.
The Reds have been strong in attack but lack defensive stability – they should be good enough to top the group though. Neither Spartak Moscow or Maribor should cause too many problems.
TIP: Liverpool to win the group @ 3/5
Like Chelsea, Manchester City were drawn into a fairly tough group. With Napoli, Shakhtar Donetsk and Feyenoord, Pep Guardiola’s men will be put to the test but they should have enough strength in depth and quality in key areas to advance as group winners.
It might go down to match day six but City are a decent bet here for me.
TIP: Manchester City to win the group @ 11/20
Take your pick in this group – Monaco, Porto and RB Leipzig are all capable of finishing at the summit. Besiktas could struggle to keep pace if they suffer a couple of defeats early on and this may be Monaco’s to lose.
The Ligue 1 champions have lost a number of key players but may be strong enough to edge what is arguably the most competitive group.
TIP: Monaco to win the group @ 6/4
Last but not least, we have Group H – and this is Real Madrid’s to lose. Borussia Dortmund and Tottenham Hotspur are both decent outfits but Zinedine Zidane’s side are a class above their opponents.
APOEL Nicosia will be the whipping boys in the group and Real could finish top with relative ease if Dortmund and Spurs perform below par.
TIP: Real Madrid to win the group @ 21/50