European champions Real Madrid meet AS Roma in Spain, while Manchester United lock horns with Young Boys in Switzerland
The group stages of the UEFA Champions League are finally back, and three of the biggest teams in the continental competition are all on the pitch this coming Wednesday evening (19 September). German league champions Bayern Munich take on Benfica in Lisbon, while AS Roma head to the Bernabeu to meet defending Champions League holders Real Madrid and Manchester United are travelling to Switzerland to face Young Boys.
First things first
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The leaders of the Primeira Liga and the Bundesliga will meet at the Estadio da Luz as Benfica welcome Bayern Munich to town. And Benfica will be looking to improve on their showing last season when they finished bottom of their group.
Bayern, by way of comparison, made it all the way to the semi-finals before losing to eventual champions Real Madrid. The German giants have not won the Champions League since 2013 and, having dominated their domestic scene for close to a decade now, will be keen to expand their horizons.
And it is indeed visitors Bayern Munich who are the red hot favourites to kick off the Champions League group stages with a win. You can back the Germans to take all three points at 1.53, while Benfica are all the way out at 6.50 despite having home advantage.
And expect goals in this one. A 2-1 win for Bayern is priced at 8.00, while you can back both teams to score at 1.70, according to Oddsshark.
Real Madrid looking to continue European success
Having won three Champions League titles in a row – an unprecedented feat in the modern era – the big question on most people’s minds is whether Real Madrid can make it four in a row. The defending champions are at 9.00 to win the crown once again, with Manchester City s the favourites to lift the trophy this year at 5.50.
And Real will kick off their latest defence against Italian outfit AS Roma, eager to make a positive start to the tournament. Their opening in La Liga under new boss Julen Lopetegui has been excellent, with Los Blancos picking up 10 points from their opening four games.
Roma, by way of contrast, have made a dreadful start to the new Serie A campaign, winning just one of their first four league encounters. The Italians made the final four of the Champions League last season and emulating that achievement looks to be an uphill struggle on this occasion.
Unsurprisingly, champions Real come in as the clear favourites to kick off with a win, and are priced at just 1.36 to do so on home soil. Roma are out at 8.50 to cause an upset at the Bernabeu. A comfortable, 2-0 win for Real comes in at 9.00, thereby offering close to a ten-fold return on any investment.
Manchester United look to make positive start on the road
And finally, Manchester United will travel to Zurich for their Champions League opener where they are set to take on Young Boys. The Red Devils will fancy their chances of kicking off with a win against a side who simply cannot match them for technical quality.
Young Boys are competing in the group stages for the first time and could well be in for a rude awakening. The side can boast a 100 per cent record in their domestic league but this will be a far more stringent test than anything they are likely to encounter in Switzerland.
And despite being on the road it is United who come in as the clear favourites to take the points. The Premier League club are at just 1.70 to make a winning start to the continental competition, with Young Boys out at 5.25 to do the same.
A narrow, 1-0 win for United is priced at 7.50, meaning that a US$5 bet would lead to a US$37.50 pay out. One thing United boss Jose Mourinho knows is how to organise a defence and you can triple your money by backing United to win to nil (without Young Boys scoring a goal) while they are at 1.36 to win either half of the game.
UEFA Champions League group stage fixtures:
Wednesday, 19 September
(1.40) Ajax x AEK (9.00); draw (5.00)
(2.00) Shakhtar Donetsk x Hoffenheim (3.80); draw (3.80)
(6.50) Benfica x Bayern Munich (1.53); draw (4.50)
(1.18) Manchester City x Lyon (17.00); draw (8.50)
(1.36) Real Madrid x Roma (8.50); draw (5.75)
(4.75) Valencia x Juventus (1.83); draw (3.70)
(2.37) Viktoria Plzen x CSKA Moscow (3.40); draw (3.25)
(5.25) Young Boys x Manchester United (1.70); draw (4.00)