Bayern the Bet in Champions League

Manchester City, PSG and Bayern Munich all won their opening UCL games, but it is the German team that looks the best bet in the futures market.

Who do Bettors Favor?

The first round of UCL fixtures is over and the best-rated online sportsbooks have been reacting by adjusting the prices in their futures markets. Manchester City have shortened across the sportsbooks, after their opening win, while PSG have also tightened to +450 with some bookmakers. Barcelona and Napoli have shortened significantly to +1100 and +4000 respectively, while the big drifters are Liverpool, who are out to +800 after their defeat to Napoli.

Shorter UCL Group Stage Favors In-Form Teams

One significant factor in this year’s UCL Group Stage is the impact that the World Cup is having on the schedule. The tournament runs from mid-November through to the end of December, which means that this year’s Group Stage of the UCL has been compressed.

Teams will still play the same number of games (six) but over a much shorter time. Instead of running from September to early December, the Group Stage will now be concluded by November 2.

This shortening of the initial phase of the competition will clearly benefit in-form teams while teams such as Liverpool, who have made a poor start to the season could find that they are out of contention before they have turned things around. The compressed schedule could also put pressure on teams with smaller squads, who will be playing two games a week throughout the fall.

Betting on the Main Contenders

Manchester City’s 4-0 victory in Sevilla was a huge statement and a warning for the rest of the competition. Pep Guardiola’s team have regularly fallen short in this competition, but the arrival of Erling Haaland appears, at least for the moment, to have taken them to a new level.

Haaland has now scored 12 goals in eight appearances for the reigning Premier League champions and if he maintains this rate of scoring, it is hard to see how anyone can beat City. Still, having already recommended them at +285, their shorter price doesn’t offer much appeal.

Of the other main contenders Paris St-Germain also started with a win, at home against Juventus, but all is not well behind the scenes, with rumors involving a falling out between Kylian Mbappe and Neymar now including suggestions that PSG are considering selling the Brazilian to resolve the issue. That seems unlikely, not least because it is hard to think of a team that could afford Neymar right now, but the ongoing discontent makes PSG a risky proposition at short odds.

Liverpool’s poor start to the season continued in Naples, as they were thrashed 4-1 by Napoli and while it is likely that Jurgen Klopp’s team will turn things around at some point, it’s not clear that they have reached rock bottom yet. By contrast, Bayern Munich earned a creditable 2-0 win at the San Siro in a potentially difficult opener and they could still be a value bet in the tournament winners’ market.

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Betting on the Champions League Challengers

Barcelona have shortened in price in the UCL winners’ market as a result of a 5-1 victory in their opening game, but that came against Victoria Plzen, the weakest team in the Group, so it doesn’t tell us much about their tournament-winning chances.

Their Spanish rivals, Real Madrid, however, were clinical in beating in-form Celtic 3-0 in Glasgow, and at this point, they still represent value if you can find +1000 or higher at your sportsbook. Despite being the UCL reigning champions, they have been priced as though they are merely challengers and should be shorter at this stage.

I mentioned last time that Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel was vulnerable, and after the Blues lost their opening UCL game against Dinamo Zagreb, he was sacked. However, soccer bettors should be wary of overreacting. Anyone who has paid attention to the way that Chelsea operates knows that this is not unusual, nor is it necessarily a sign of panic.

Under the club’s previous owner, Chelsea was known for regularly changing managers and yet consistently finished inside the Premier League top four and won their fair share of trophies. Their approach is based on having strong and stable recruitment and development structures, with the manager being the most disposable element.

Sacking their manager in September would be a sign of crisis at most clubs, but that is not the case with Chelsea. In fact, Tuchel himself led the club to Champions League success after taking over from Frank Lampard in January last year, and although it sounds counter-intuitive, this is the best time to bet on Chelsea to win the tournament.

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Pandora Hughes

Pandora Hughes has been working in the betting industry for over 15 years and has written for some of the big players in the sector, including Betfair, ESPN and Sporting Life. She has an in-depth knowledge of sports betting and you can read her reviews, features and previews on this site.

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