The group stage of the UEFA Champions League is finally starting, and I intend to embrace the opportunity. I will be sharing my free betting picks each time there is another round of matches, from the group stage to the final of the competition.
The good news is that the important part of the Champions League starts about a month after most of the domestic competitions in Europa. This provides a good opportunity to gather some impressions of most teams, and this is quite helpful when the time for UCL comes.
I’m confident that I have enough information to work with from day 1 of the tournament.
With that said, let’s take a look at the odds offered by the top online bookmakers out there and see if there are some good betting opportunities.
Inter Milan – Tottenham Hotspur
Here’s what BetOnline provides for the top betting markets related to this match.
Inter Milan to Win2.83
Tottenham to Win2.52
Under 2.25 Goals2.04
Over 2.25 Goals1.83
The bookmaker obviously doesn’t see a clear favorite in this game, as the prices for both teams are pretty much as even as it gets. I agree to an extent, as Tottenham seems to be the better team, but the home advantage evens the odds.
Still, I believe the English side has the much bigger potential and will see the UEFA Champions League as the best place to show it, but I will elaborate on that later in this post.
I’m not sure what to expect when it comes to the goals market. Most matches of Inter Milan so far have been low-scoring affairs, and I assume this is the reason for the low line of 2.25 goals. On the other hand, Tottenham is scoring and conceding a lot in the English Premier League.
Let’s dive a bit deeper and see what to expect from both teams.
The Italian giant Inter Milan showed a lot of ambition in the summer transfer market, as the side brought in a bunch of new players in an attempt to prepare the squad for the challenge of playing in the UEFA Champions League.
In theory, Inter is now stronger and has better depth, which should allow the team to perform well in both the UCL and the domestic competitions, thanks to the likes of Nainggolan, Lautaro Martinez, Sime Vrsaljko, and the other new signings.
The reality is different, though, as the club has been struggling since the start of the season. Inter sits in the 14th place of the Italian Serie A, having won only four points after the same number of matches so far.
Furthermore, the side seems unable to take advantage of its home games. Inter drew against Torino and was beaten by Parma.
The overall impression is that this team is a work in progress, and it will take time to perform.
Inter is already behind the leaders in Serie A and faces an extremely tough challenge in the Champions League. Facing the likes of Barcelona, Tottenham, and even PSV Eindhoven would be hard enough, even if Inter was in top form, which obviously is not the case.
I think that Luciano Spalletti will try to keep it tight against Spurs and hope that his side doesn’t concede. Another reason to believe that a clean sheet will be a priority is the lack of goals and the injury of Lautaro Martinez, who will miss the match against Tottenham.
There were a lot of people who questioned Tottenham’s approach in the summer, as the club failed to sign any players. On the bright side, it didn’t lose any important pieces, either. The young and hungry squad of Spurs should be able to perform well this year, too.
The start of the Premier League confirmed that, as Tottenham won three games in a row, including the 3-0 victory against Manchester United. It all seemed bright, but the manager, Mauricio Pochettino, knew that the performance wasn’t that good. The next two matches in the league confirmed that, as Tottenham lost both of them.
This certainly changed the atmosphere around the club, and there is some tension right now. A good example is the debate if Harry Kane should’ve received a longer rest before the season started. The striker is far from his best and looks tired.
The player himself and the manager believe that’s not the case, but I’m not entirely certain.
The good form of Lucas Moura at the start covered the cracks, but Spurs are not as sharp as expected.
Despite their problems, I think we will see a different Tottenham team against Inter Milan. The Champions League seems to fire up the whole club, and we saw some brilliant performances in the past couple of years, including famous wins against the likes of Real Madrid.
Considering how strong the group is, I feel that Spurs will push hard from day 1 and will be looking for the victory against Inter Milan.
Betting Pick and Prediction
Both teams have had their problems at the start of the season, but I believe that Spurs are the much better side. The main issues are related to the fact that a large part of the team reached the late stages of the soccer World Cup.
As a result, there’s a bit of tiredness at the start of the season, but considering the opponents faced in the Premier League, Spurs have done an acceptable job so far.
I expect them to perform better against Inter Milan, and they are the favorite, in my opinion. Going for the straight victory is a bit of a risk, though, as the Italian side will try to keep it tight at the back. This is why I prefer to pick another option.
Tottenham (0) on the Asian Handicap is available at the price of 1.83. This is the safe approach, as you will get your money back if the match is tied at the end. Of course, if you feel more adventurous, the straight win for Spurs at 2.52 is a good choice, too.
I expect a scoreline like 1-0 or 2-0 in favor of the English team.
PICK: Tottenham (0) Asian Handicap 1.83
Liverpool – PSG
This is one of the most exciting games in the first round of the UEFA Champions League group stage, and here are the main betting markets.
Liverpool to Win 2.23
PSG to Win 3.00
Under 3.25 Goals 1.94
Over 3.25 Goals 1.91
The first clash of titans of this UCL season is tough to predict, and the bookies seem to agree. The flying Liverpool team is the slight favorite, mainly because of the home advantage. On the other hand, PSG seems in devastating form, at least when it comes to the French Ligue 1.
The side is scoring for fun, which is one of the reasons why the goal line is so high. At first glance, I was shocked to see 3.25 and thought that it was too high, but a deeper look shows that’s not exactly the case.
Here are my thoughts on each of the two sides.
There was a lot of hype when Liverpool appointed Jurgen Klopp a couple of years ago. A lot of the supporters believed that the German was the man who could bring back the glory days.
Living up to such expectations is not an easy task, but Klopp is a man who is not afraid to face monumental challenges. After all, this is the man who stood up against the dominant Bayern Munich for years.
He needed some time at the start, but Liverpool looks absolutely phenomenal right now. The club reached the final of the UEFA Champions League and scored more than 100 goals. Despite the lack of trophies, the fanbase and the board believe in Klopp and his men.
The manager solved the biggest problem of the last campaign by signing a top goalkeeper like Alisson and adding a couple of other quality players to the squad. The results are exceptional so far, as Liverpool has yet to lose a point in the English Premier League.
The last victory came away against Tottenham this weekend. The scoreline of 2-1 actually flatters Spurs, as Klopp’s team dominated most of the game and should’ve won more comfortably.
It doesn’t matter at the end, though, as Liverpool has five wins from five games. The attacking trio of Mane, Firmino, and Salah is devastating, while the new goalie has lifted the defense. Joe Gomez also deserves some credit, as the young Englishman looks like the perfect partner for Virgil van Dijk.
The overall impression is that this Liverpool squad is more than capable of challenging in both England and the Champions League.
This game against PSG provides the Reds with the opportunity to make a bold statement about their intentions.
There’s not much to say about PSG, as the situation there has barely changed. The club’s financial power means that the French Ligue 1 is basically pointless, at least when it comes to the top spot.
If anyone had any doubts about it, the first couple of games of the season should be a good reminder of how strong PSG really is. The club has five out of five and scored 17 goals in the process. The likes of Neymar, Cavani, and Mbappe are dominating each match.
The big question is if PSG is strong enough to finally win the UEFA Champions League. The side has the potential to do so, but is the defense strong enough?
The clash against Liverpool will provide a lot of answers about PSG’s chances in this competition.
The new coach, Thomas Tuchel, was appointed to win this competition, and the German knows it. I don’t think he’s had enough time to impose his ideas, but it’s still early on.
Betting Pick and Prediction
It will be a cracking game, and I can’t wait to watch it. Both teams probably rank in the top 5 in the world when it comes to attacking. This is the reason why the bookies expect so many goals, but I don’t think the game will be that open.
I feel that Jurgen Klopp will play it smart and rely on a more balanced approach. His team will press high up the pitch when the opportunity is there, but they will then defend deep once it’s gone.
I feel that Liverpool is the more balanced side, and the confidence of the team is superb right now. The English club is the favorite, and the price of 2.23 is high enough for me.
If I had to predict the correct score of this match, I would say 2-1 for the Reds.
PICK: Liverpool to Win 2.23
Schalke 04 – FC Porto
Let’s see what the most popular betting markets look like.
Schalke 04 to Win 2.56
FC Porto to Win 2.82
Under 2.5 Goals 2.07
Over 2.5 Goals 1.81
I’ve seemed to pick only close games today for some reason, but I like this one, too. The odds suggest that it will be a tight affair without many goals and without a clear favorite. I do believe it will be a close call, but the advantage of that is that you can get some juicy prices.
But let’s see what’s going on with Schalke 04 and Porto before we get there.
I expected Schalke 04 to struggle once the Champions League starts. The club surprised me in a negative fashion, as the beginning of the season has been woeful even before the UCL. Schalke 04 has yet to win a point in the German Bundesliga after three games.
Sure, it’s early in the season, and the side has all the time in the world to fix the issues, but the signs are not good. The defense is leaking goals all the time, and it’s not like Schalke 04 has faced the best teams in the Bundesliga so far.
The likes of Wolfsburg, Hertha, and Monchengladbach are not that good, with all my respect. On top of that, Schalke 04 is struggling with the discipline of the players, as two of them saw red cards already.
Schalke needs to go back to basics and try to defend properly before everything else.
The German side’s opening game in the UEFA Champions League is against a tricky opponent that knows how to exploit any weakness.
Porto is one of the most experienced teams in the UEFA Champions League. The side rarely misses the group stage and often plays in the knockouts, too. The side certainly has a good chance to progress this year as well.
There are certain question marks over the squad, as Porto lost a couple of important players, but that’s not the first time it’s happened. The side relies on smart transfers and a good scouting network. This is the reason Porto signed a bunch of players with a lot of potential.
I’m sure at least a couple of the new guys will make it, and the team will be strong enough to reach the last 16.
The early signs are decent, as Porto won three out of the four games in the Primera Liga.
Porto’s offense is working well, but there are some question marks at the back. I don’t think Schalke 04 has enough to take full advantage, though.
Betting Pick and Prediction
The horrible start of Schalke 04 shouldn’t be underestimated. The team lacks balance and simply can’t win at the moment. The defense is especially vulnerable, and the Germans will play a Porto side that’s more than capable of creating chances and scoring goals.
On top of that, Porto will play Setubal during the weekend, while Schalke 04 will face Bayern Munich. I think it’s easy to suggest which team will be able to afford to push as hard as possible without worrying about the next game.
Under such circumstances, I have to go for a Porto win. However, the price for Porto (0) on the Asian Handicap is actually 2.01, which is fantastic. I prefer this safer approach, as it covers the draw. I expect Porto to win with a goal or two, though – probably something like 1-2.
PICK: Porto (0) AH 2.01
I’m really excited to see what happens in the first round of the UEFA Champions League group stage. There were a couple of other matches that seemed interesting to me, but I didn’t find the right price.
For example, I fancy Galatasaray to beat Lokomotiv Moscow at home, but I would like to see odds of 2.00 or higher. The same applies to Shakhtar Donetsk, as the Ukrainian team is the favorite against Hoffenheim, but the price is just about fair, so there’s no point in taking it right now.
What are your expectations for the opening week of the UCL? Do you agree with my picks, or do you have other ideas? Let me know in the comments below.
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