UEFA Champions League Expert Tips 2019/20

Betfair Soccer Experts TPSS are back to give their Champions League Tips for the 2019/20 tournament. They will preview major games in each stage of the tournament and give their expert tips along the way.

Slavia Prague v Dortmund

Marco Reus missed a 57th minute penalty in Dortmund’s opener against Catalan giants Barcelona in what could prove crucial in determining who tops Pool F.

With Inter’s strong start to the season – they have a 100% record Serie A record after six matches – this Group has suddenly become one of the toughest of the lot. Slavia Prague are by far the lowest-rated of the four sides but they picked up a valiant 0-0 draw at Inter in Milan.

Dortmund regularly feature in Europe’s elite club competition so we have plenty of past data to go on. Since 2012/13, they’ve won 12 of 16 matches against teams from outside the Big 5 leagues including seven victories in eight on the road. Their opponents in that sample have generally been a better standard than Slavia so they’ll go to the Czech capital with confidence.

Unlike their opponents, this is rarely trodden grass for the Slavia. The hosts had to come through qualifying to reach their first Champions League draw since 2007/08 so the only recent European performance stats we have on them are from their last three seasons in the Europa League.

The Czech champions reached the quarters last term before being dumped up by Chelsea. They’ve faced sides from the Big 5 Leagues seven times since 2017/18 and are yet to pick up a win and last season they shipped a total of nine goals in four games against Sevilla and Chelsea.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Dortmund to Win at $1.97

Lille v Chelsea

After opening day defeats for each of these sides this game has taken on a greater sense of urgency.

Chelsea are favourites to take the spoils despite failing to net at home to a Valencia side in turmoil. Since then they’ve picked up three points in the Premier League after they followed up a 2-1 home defeat to Liverpool with a routine victory over Brighton at the weekend.

The Blues are showing improvement under Lampard but it remains true that they are yet to register a big win after failing to defeat the European champions twice, Los Ches, Man Utd and Leicester in their five toughest tests.

Lille qualified for their first Champions League since 2012/13 by finishing second to PSG in Ligue 1 last term and they come into this game on a hot streak at home.

Christophe Galtier’s side have won their last eight at the Stade Pierre Mauroy which included beating Angers, Nantes and most significantly a 5-1 thrashing of PSG.

Chelsea qualified for 13 consecutive Champions Leagues from 2003/04 but this is just their second appearance in the last four campaigns. Furthermore, they lost their best player to Real Madrid in the summer as the former Lille attacker Eden Hazard made the second significant move of his career.

Even with the Belgian in their ranks, Chelsea won just eight of their 21 away Champions League matches and they are significantly weakened in his absence.

Betting Strategy

 LAY – Chelsea to Win at $2.16

Real Madrid v Club Brugge

13-time European winners Real Madrid face minnows Club Brugge in their next Champions League fixture but they might not get everything their own way.

Despite leading La Liga after seven rounds and no defeats the hosts are a bit lucky to be in their lofty position after they’ve conceded over eight Expected Goals but let in just six.

Since Zidane returned to the Bernabeu, Madrid has won half of their 18 league games but have led at the break on just four occasions. They come into this match in desperate need of a win after being embarrassed 3-0 at the Parc des Princes by a second-string PSG side in their opener.

Brugge have struggled at Europe’s top-table but they’ve made themselves harder to beat at least in recent seasons. Last year they went W1-D3-L2 in a Group of Death that included Atletico, Dortmund and Monaco as they drew or led at the break in all six games.

They then started this campaign with a goalless draw against Galatasary. The visitors are on course for back-to-back Belgian titles after starting their domestic campaign with 20 points from their opening eight games.

In all competitions, their unbeaten streak stands at 15 games so they’ll approach this huge test with confidence.

Over the past five Champions League seasons, clubs from the Big Five leagues have had W/W double results in just 44% of games hosting sides from other countries.

It might be too big an ask for Brugge to frustrate Los Blancos all match but they should be able to achieve that by at least the break.

Betting Strategy

 LAY – Real Madrid HT/FT at $1.95

Tottenham v Bayern Munich

There’s scant head-to-head data to go on here as these two sides last squared off in a competitive fixture in November 1983.

Despite Spurs reaching last year’s final they are rated outsiders against the German champions. In their opener, the North London side let a two-goal lead slip in Greece but that shouldn’t dampen their likelihood of reaching the knockouts.

They will probably now go through second in the Group unless they can take at least four points off their opponents. Spurs have faced stiff opposition in their last two Champions League campaigns and they’ve proved themselves worthy competitors.

They’ve won seven of their 10 home matches in the spell which has included beating Inter Milan, Man City, Real Madrid and Munich’s rivals Dortmund twice as seven of the 10 have featured at least three goals.

Bayern eased to a 3-0 victory at home to Serbian champions Crvena Zvezda in their opener but there’s little we can take from that given the gulf in standard.

The visitors have won 48% of their away Champions League matches since 2014/15 but that drops considerably to just four in 13 against sides from the Big 5 leagues with six defeats.

This is a strange market where Spurs seems undervalued despite their impressive home performance against Europe’s best while the opposite is true of a Bayern side that is overvalued despite their struggles against similar teams.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Spurs to Win at $3.45

Atletico Madrid v Juventus

There is little to separate these two sides in the betting in this mouth-watering opener as Atletico are $2.54 to get their campaign off to a fast start.

Both sides are regulars on this stage and the Spaniards are competing in their seventh consecutive Champions League. Their home record throughout this stretch has been comparable with the best teams on the continent. In their 18 such Group Stage matches they’ve won no fewer than 15 times and 12 of the victories were by at least two clear goals.

Juventus were unable to score against a limited Fiorentina side at the weekend. The Old Lady are a force to be reckoned with in Europe but aren’t quite as strong away from home. Last season they won just two of their five on the road including a 2-0 loss here and were dumped out by Ajax in the quarters. Historically, the Italian giants have struggled in Spain having won just four of 24 matches since 1990 with defeats in seven of their last 13.

The home win price is a little insulting here given Atletico’s record hosting in this competition. Diego Simeone’s side have also won eight of their last nine at home in La Liga with a 1-1 draw with Sevilla the only blot on their record.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Atletico Madrid Win at $2.54

PSG v Real Madrid

On most Champions League matchdays Atletico v Juventus would be the pick of the fixtures on the card but this is no such day as two titans meet in the French capital.

Both sides have a lengthy injury list coming into this game which could determine who tops the pool and thus gets an advantageous Last 16 draw. PSG are without superstar World Cup winner Mbappe while Cavani and Draxler are doubts. Things aren’t much better for Madrid though as they’ll miss the Spanish pair of Nacho and Ramos through suspension while Asensio and Modric are ruled out through niggles.

PSG home matches tend to be thrilling in Europe. All of their last 11 at Les Parc des Princes have had Over 2.5 Goals and Real Madrid were one of just two teams to defeat them in that spell. Just one of the 11 has been goalless at the break and seven have seen at least two scores before half-time.

Real Madrid have had a chaotic start to their La Liga season. They’ve picked up eight points from 12 as their mindset has been attack, attack, attack. They lead the league on Expected Goals so but only three sides have conceded more Expected Goals Against. 18 of their last 21 Champions League matches have had Over 2.5 Goals and that’s our selection here.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Over 2.5 Goals at $1.63

Napoli v Liverpool

Liverpool has two tricky away games this week but interestingly they are a lot bigger to win at Napoli than they are at Chelsea though it’s difficult to imagine the Italians being favourites against the Londoners on neutral ground.

Napoli were knocked out of the Champions League in the Group Stage last season as they were once again drawn with Liverpool. Unfortunately, they also had to face PSG so they ended up coming third which meant they entered the Europa League at the Last 32.

After two victories over Zurich and Salzburg, they faced Arsenal in the quarters. The Gunners emphatically won to nil in both legs of the tie leaving Napoli to concentrate on Serie A where they finished second 11 points behind Juventus.

They’ve six points from three games this term after losing a seven-goal thriller to the Old Lady on Matchday 2.

This is Napoli’s fourth season in a row in Europe’s elite club competition and they’ve fared well at home in the past. They’ve won seven of their 10 and seven of the games have had Over 2.5 Goals and six Over 3.5.

Liverpool are the continent’s form side and our pick to win a seventh Champions League in June. In the Premier League, they’ve won a club-record 14 in a row netting at least twice in all of the matches.

Each of their league games this season has had over 2.5 Goals and half of their 14-game streak have had Over 3.5.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Over 2.5 Goals at $1.76

Chelsea v Valencia

These two sides come into this match with different mindsets after two high-scoring games this weekend.

Chelsea were low in confidence after the International break which followed them letting a two-goal home lead slip against promoted Sheffield United. The Blues then cast away any doubts with an emphatic 5-2 win at Wolves with a hat-trick from Tammy Abraham.

Valencia, meanwhile were fancied against an injury-laden Barcelona side but they went down 5-2 themselves after conceding twice in the opening seven minutes.

If we include Chelsea’s penalty defeat to Liverpool in the Super Cup, both teams have scored in all five of their matches under new boss Frank Lampard and both teams have netted at least twice in their last three.

Valencia are also under new management this season after Marcelino was sacked last week despite winning the Copa del Rey in May and guiding his side to a second successive Champions League qualification.

The Spaniards have netted in their last nine European fixtures and given Chelsea’s problems at the back both teams to score is the bet that attracts us most.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Both Teams to Score at $1.85

After half a decade of Spanish dominance in which Ronaldo’s Real Madrid lifted the coveted trophy four times, there was a sea change as England’s Liverpool and Spurs battled it out for the Champions League in Spain’s capital.

The win for Klopp’s side crowned a great season as they reached their second consecutive final and took the mighty Man City to the final day domestically. Liverpool has started this EPL campaign with a bang and has a 100% record after five games – Inter Milan are the only other side in the tournament from the Big 5 leagues yet to drop a point though they are just three games in.

Given Man City’s ($4.50) record-breaking Premier League season last year and the attacking talent they have it’s no surprise to see them favourites for the tournament but they are still searching for their maiden win.

A sign of the difficulty of this competition is that Pep Guardiola has managed teams to eight domestic league titles but just two Champions League trophies and the last of them was in 2011 with Barcelona.

City slipped up at the weekend as they went down 3-2 to promoted side Norwich which highlighted their problems at the back. Long-term injuries to Laporte and Mendy have left a first-choice centre back pairing of Otamendi and Stones which isn’t good enough to win Europe’s biggest prize.

They should both be back for the knockouts though and they’ve been dealt a great draw as they are just $1.17 to top a group that includes Atalanta, Shakhtar and Zagreb.

It is Pep’s old club Barcelona ($6.20) that are second-favourites ahead of Liverpool after they added Antoine Griezmann to an already potent attack. The Catalans started slowly in Spain due to a lengthy, star-studded injury list but with no serious ailments, they’ll be at full strength for the tournament proper.

Messi and co look destined for a first final since 2015 in May after beating Liverpool 3-0 in the first leg of their semi-final but another historic Champions League at Anfield followed as the La Liga winners went down 4-0 with the Argentinian was anonymous throughout.

One thing we can be certain of is seeing them in the latter stages. Barca has reached at least the quarters in all of the last 12 seasons!

Liverpool has fond memories of the host city of this year’s final – Istanbul. They famously came back from 3-0 down at the Olympic Stadium against AC Milan in 2005 and they will hope to defend their crown there in June.

With an early five-point cushion over their most likely rivals Man City and having gone nearly 30 years without a league title, Klopp could feel the pressure to prioritise the EPL over the UCL.

The next six in the betting are split between three groups which means a huge likelihood of a tough Last 16 clash.

In the most anticipated games of the Group Stage, Paris Saint Germain ($11.5) and Real Madrid ($13) square off in Group A. Of the two we would expect PSG to be the stronger by the time the knockouts come around. Madrid have had a sloppy start to the season and are giving up too many chances.

Bayern Munich ($13.5) and Tottenham Hotspur ($32) are paired in Group B but both should progress given the other two sides are from Greece and Serbia. The Germans are favoured to top the pool but that seems wrong given they’ve not made a final in six years while the North London side did last time around.

Juventus ($13.5) knocked Atletico Madrid ($24) out in the first knockout round last season and the two will face off again this year in Group D but, again, both should progress ahead of Leverkusen and Lokomotiv. Each team has a fantastic home record domestically and in Europe and the winner of the pool will be fancied to progress in most Last 16 ties.

No other team is shorter than $36 to lift the trophy and a line can be drawn through the lot of them. No side from outside England, Spain, Germany or Italy have won the Champions League since Jose Mourinho’s Porto in 2004.

Furthermore, English and Spanish teams have won 12 of the 15 finals since Porto triumphed as more evidence that the best teams need to be tested throughout the season while those that win their leagues comfortably aren’t sharp enough when it matters most. Case in point: Paris Saint-Germain.

Atletico ($23) and Spurs ($32) are interesting options but in recent years they’ve had as good as runs as seemed possible in this competition but yet still couldn’t win the biggest prize of them all. Real Madrid look far too short but they could well have a different manager by the time the knockouts come around (Mourinho again maybe?)

We’ll be doing another preview at the start of the knockout stages when the water is clearer but for now, the standout selection is Liverpool.

They were a Mignolet horror show away from heading into this season chasing a third consecutive Champions League trophy. After losing that final in 2018, their squad improved tenfold by signing the best defender in the world.

In Mane, Salah and Firmino they have a front-three to challenge the best of City and Barca but significantly they have the strongest backline of the lot. With a stunning record at Anfield and a group, they should win at a canter they should ease their way to the Quarters.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Liverpool to win the Champions League at $7.80

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