Better late than never, the Champions League is back!
This week sees the return of Europe’s premier club competition – yeah, I said it, so-called “Premier” League, whatcha gonna do about it? Call your daddy?
Okay, steady on, there’s no need to set Big Sam on me, I’m just buzzing about seeing the top teams in Europe stroll through the group stages before they play each other, providing the world hasn’t collapsed into a Covid-19 fueled catastrophe by early 2021.
Maybe I need to layoff the Gazprom – whatever that is – for a while.
Anyway, I’ve perused the prices on this year’s competition and, as sure as Adrian’s going to throw one in, I’ve found some cracking bets for you.
So, crank up the choral anthem, crack open your favourite green-bottled Dutch beverage – or PepsiCo product if you prefer – and get ready for some extremely shrewd selections for the Champions League 2020/21…
The Parisian billionaires are priced around double-digits to lift their first-ever Champions League crown this coming season. Given they fell just one game short of doing it last campaign and have kept their squad largely intact beyond the departure of Thiago Silva who’s now benefitting from Frank Lampard’s defensive system at Chelsea, that seems a decent price to me.
Sure, they’ve been dropped into a group with those fizzy pop barons RB Leipzig and the rollercoaster ride towards a massive trough of animal waste that is Manchester United, but no one really expects VAR to rescue Ole in Paris again, do they?
Angel Di Maria may have nightmares on returning to Manchester, but with Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Mauro Icardi up-front, the French side will be there or thereabouts again this season.
I hate hedging my bets, but the price on Diego Simeone’s men is too good to turn down as an each-way option.
We all know what we’re going to get with Atletico, but it’s still so effective – just ask Jurgen Klopp.
They’ve added Luis Suarez from Barcelona, who with Diego Costa now forms the most dastardly duo we’ve seen since the Nasty Boy started rubbing peoples’ faces in their sweaty armpits, and the rest of the team is going to be as sneaky and gritty as ever.
They messed up in the quarter-finals last season against Leipzig, but Simeone has brought them to two finals before, and they’re always in the mix so a price over 20/1 really appeals to me.
Neymar will not be happy.
Still only 21, the French forward turned PSG desperate quarter-final against Atalanta in last season’s curtailed knockout stages – with a little help from Stoke legend Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting – when he was sprung from the bench half-fit.
This season can be the one where the World Cup winner sweeps the era of Messi and Ronaldo aside by lead his club to the biggest prize there is.
He’s played just four games this season and has four goals and assists already, and there’s no reason he can’t do the same in Europe.
The Spanish side have an almost supernatural grip on the second-tier European competition, the Europa League, having won it a staggering six times in the last two decades.
They’re yet to make a real impact in the Champions League, however, unless you count knocking Jose Mourinho’s Man United out of the competition in the last 16 a couple of seasons ago.
I’m sure Jose doesn’t.
Now they have the chance to upset one of his other old teams as they’ve been drawn with Chelsea, Rennes and Krasnodar in Group E.
This should be a battle between the La Liga and Premier League sides for the top spot, and with Sevilla’s record against English sides very strong – they’ve lost just four times in 17 European games against English teams and won eight of them – and Lamps’ champs still looking like chumps defensively, they look a worthwhile bet take first place in the group.
A lengthier priced group bet, this is essentially a bet on Barcelona bringing forward their European meltdown by about four months and crashing out of the competition in the group stage rather than the knockout rounds.
We all know about the turmoil there in the last few months. Messi’s wounds have been salved for now, but Ronald Koeman is hardly anyone’s idea of a top manager, and it feels like the crisis that enveloped the club during the summer could return again with a few bad results.
So why not in the group stage of the Champions League?
It might require Kyiv to find some of the sweet late nineties form that saw them threaten to take a Champions League crown, but at the price it has some appeal.
*All prices bang up-to-date thanks to our snazzy new bet banners that link right to PaddyPower.com
- Our two telly punts for Tuesday’s Championship action
- Chelsea in for a shock when Sevilla stroll into Stamford Bridge
- Our goals galore 12/1 Same Game Multi for Man Utd’s trip to Paris
- Thommo: My One Disappointment About Liverpool’s Transfer Window
- Jamie Redknapp: How Harry Maguire Can Turn His Form Around
- Thommo: Man United’s Deadline Day Deals Reeked Of Desperation