It was double delight for Manchester on Wednesday evening – both of the city’s clubs overcame German opposition to light a fight under their respective Champions League campaigns. So how have those victories, and the results in the other groups, affected the betting?
This is, perhaps, the most bread and butter of all the groups in the tournament this year. We have Real Madrid – with two comfortable wins from two – ahead of PSG, who also boast maximum points, on goal difference. Malmo and Shakhtar Donetsk appear to be in a battle to avoid the wooden spoon.
And so the ‘to qualify’ market offers little value to us, however one intriguing price is that of 4/7 for PSG to finish second in the group. You would expect Real’s class to shine through when the two teams go head to head (in Paris on October 21 and in Madrid on November 3), and that will see them run away as group winners.
PSG, meanwhile, will be confident that they can secure the runners up spot with some comfort. This represents a great value punt then.
Manchester United got themselves right back into contention with that 2-1 win over Wolfsburg on Wednesday night at a lively Old Trafford, and along with CSKA Moscow’s 3-2 triumph over PSV incredibly all four teams in the group are locked on three points and zero goal difference.
You would expect that the Red Devils’ quality will ultimately see them home, especially as their toughest test (the away game in Moscow) comes next – giving them plenty of time to recover from a negative result. There is just something about this CSKA side, particularly on home soil, that marks them out as genuine qualification contenders. If they take seven points from their three games on their own turf, they should go through.
And their price for qualification from Group B? A cool 15/8. That is surely worth a small stakes punt in its own right.
The situation in Group C looks to have essentially resolved itself already. Benfica and Atletico Madrid will take some catching, and with Galatasaray seemingly lost the X Factor that their cauldron of a home ground used to afford them – as witnessed by Atletico’s 2-1 win there just a couple of weeks ago – it seems an open and shut case. FC Astana, the debutants from Kazakhstan, are game but lacking in the quality required to do damage at this level.
The bookies offer no value on either Benfica (2/17) or Atletico (1/6) to qualify, so instead we have to take the plunge in the group winner market. There is little to choose between the two sides: they possess identical domestic records (played six, won four, lost two), and whilst we would instinctively regard the Spaniards as the better side, Benfica currently hold a three-point lead and a +3 goal difference compared to Atletico’s +1.
For that reason, the 10/11 on the Portuguese giants to top the group looks a smart bet.
Despite their current Serie A woes, Juventus have performed admirably so far in Group D, and with two wins from two – and a double-header against bottom club Borussia M’gladbach next up – we can safely wave the Italians through to the knockout phase of the tournament.
There are similarities between Juve and Sevilla, who are also struggling in domestic competition thus far in 2015/16. The difference between the two, alas, is that Juventus have bags of Champions League experience to call on, plus the advantage of reaching the final of European football’s biggest event last season. The Spaniards have not played at this level in years, and that could be held against them.
Expect the coughing and spluttering Manchester City to prosper then, with Sergio Aguero’s last minute penalty winner in Germany on Wednesday evening of huge importance. Evens for them to finish second in the group is a lip-smacking price in isolation, but it adds huge leverage to an accumulator.
Speaking of which….
- PSG Group A Runner Up – 4/7
- Benfica to Win Group C – 10/11
- Man City Group D Runner Up – Evens
- Acca Odds: 6/1