Bayern Munich v Borussia Dortmund – Champions League Final Preview

The first all-German clash in the Champions League final looks set to be an absolute thriller.

After being handed ‘the group of death’, being partnered with three other winners of their respective leagues, in the shape of Real Madrid, Manchester City and Ajax.

Many thought Dortmund may struggle to even get out of the group, with Madrid and City being regarded as having slightly better chances.

However the German side showed attacking flair and a beautiful short-passing game that has come to fruition under Jurgen Klopp, and managed to actually top their group.

They come into the game in solid form (ignoring their final game), however they face a massive challenge, as out of the four times the sides have met so far this year, they are yet to win, with Munich winning twice, and the spoils being shared on the other two occasions.

They will be without talisman Mario Gotze, who will be leaving for their opponents over the summer, due to a hamstring injury, and this means Klopp faces a selection headache as a number of players battle for the remaining spot.

Meanwhile, Bayern come into the game in simply scintillating form, having lost only once in the league all season, and ending the season with a goal difference of +80.

They handed out a 7-0 aggregate thrashing to Barcelona in the semi-final and enter the final as extremely worthy favourites.

They will be aiming to eradicate the memories of the past, including the two final losses in recent years, first when losing 2-0 to Inter Milan on in 2010, and more recently, last year, when going down on penalties to a determined Chelsea side.


Arjen Robben felt the pain more than most after he missed from twelve yards in last year’s final, and he will be out to make up for his previous mishaps.

The Dutchman has been in great form all year, and has been key to his sides perhaps over-achievement so far.

He looks set to get on the score-sheet, and the 11/5 on offer with BetVictor does look incredible value. He has proved impossible to mark with his explosive turn of pace, and direct running, and the sizable Wembley pitch will play to his strengths.

It won’t be a completely one-sided affair, as Dortmund are always dangerous on the counter-attack, and have been extremely fearless under their leader. However I think they will definitely struggle and the  penultimate game of Jupp Heynckes’ reign as Munich coach looks set to be a winning one.

His side have incredible strength in depth, and Javi Martinez’ job now looks slightly easier with Gotze missing out. Martinez will be able to control the game, and exploit the gaps that are likely to occur in the Dortmund midfield, as Ribery/Robben consistently cut-in from wide positions, causing Bender/Gundogan to sit deeper and deeper.

If this was a regular league game being played at a neutral venue, I would expect a much shorter price than the 3/4 on offer. I’m not a fan of advising odds-on selections, but I think Munich should have too much firepower for their German counterparts, and they will be able to make up for the losses of years gone by.

Robert Lewandowski, Polandia, Creating History Together with Arenabetting Piala Eropa 2012

However, with the Champions League’s second highest scorer on the opposition, in the shape of Robert Lewandowski, it is set to be a both teams to score banker.

Yet, at 13/20 there seems very little value. So take into account that six of the ten goals Bayern have conceded in the competition this season have been scored in the final 15 minutes of their matches, and understand that the most likely scorer for Dortmund is definitely Lewandowksi, then you will find a rather tasty value bet.

The Polish talisman is 13/2 to net the last goal in the 90 minutes on Saturday evening, and this looks a tad large. He’s netted ten times in this year’s competition, including a fantastic four against Real Madrid in the semi-final. Only Cristiano Ronaldo has netted more (12), and the target-man knows he is key if his side are to get anything out of the game.

He bagged his first goal in over a month of domestic football in the 2-1 defeat at Hoffenheim last week, which will give him a confidence boost and the stand out 13/2 with BetVictor looks too big to ignore.

Advice (all with BetVictor): 

4 points: Bayern Munich to win @ 3/4

1 point: Robben to score any-time @ 11/5.

1 point: Lewandowski to score last @ 13/2

2013= +26.21

Barcelona v Bayern Munich – Betting Preview.

After an action-packed first leg in Germany, Munich have all but booked their flights to Wembley, after a resounding 4-0 victory.

It was viewed by many as the changing of the guard, with German football taking over the reins from La Liga as the greatest footballing league in the world.

However, there is still life in the old guard yet, and you can never rule out a side spearheaded by Lionel Messi.

The Catalan side know they need to attack, which means an open game at both ends, which suggests there will be plenty of goals. The 5/4 on offer with Bet365 for over 3 goals looks massive value, considering four or more goals is only 6/5 with Paddy Power.

Barcelona’s defence has been exploited on many occasions this season, and are more likely to be caught short tomorrow with so much emphasis on attack.

This means the both-to-score bet looks relatively safe, but with so little value, there is no point getting involved.


Instead it may pay to side with the wincast special of Lionel Messi to net any-time in a Barcelona victory, at 7/5.

The Argentinian will be out to try and restore his sides credibility, as-well as prove why he is the greatest player in the world.

He was unusually quiet in the first leg, which was swept under the carpet as Munich’s success was primarily focused on, as opposed to Barca, and Messi in particular’s disappointment.

No-one is sure of how Munich will set up and with the German’s renowned for their irresistible attacking displays this season, it seems hard to fathom they will be told to just sit deep and ensure Messi/Iniesta can’t get their foot on the ball.

However, it may be what happens, and that could turn out to be a very dangerous tactic if true, as if anyone can break a side down from 30 yards inwards, it’s Barcelona.

You can never discount them at the Nou Camp, and as they showed against AC Milan earlier in the competition, they are able to do their best work when little is expected of them.

No pressure means that the side can go and play with no restrictions, and although they are (arguably) defensively weak, and likely to concede, they should still manage to get a few goals in front of a loud home crowd.

The 3-1 scoreline appeals at odds of 14/1 with Stan James, and I’m sure it’s one that will shorten before the off, with other firms offering much shorter prices.


1 point: Over 3 goals – 5/4 @ Bet365

1 point: Messi/Barcelona (Wincast) – 7/5 @ Stan James

0.5 points: Barcelona 3-1 – 14/1 @ Stan James

2013 = +31.71

Champions League – Round of 16 (2nd leg) Advice.

All eyes will be on Old Trafford on Tuesday evening, as Manchester United host Real Madrid in the return leg of their last-16 game.

Both sides go into the game evenly poised, after the sides drew 1-1 at the Bernabeu.

It looks set to be a thriller, with both sides going all out to land a place in the quarter-finals. They both come into the game in great form, but United hold a slight advantage after managing to grab what could be an all-important away goal in Madrid.

ronaldo madrid

This means Real Madrid have to score on the night, and will be going all out from the off. With the likes of Ronaldo, who is returning to Old Trafford for the first time since leaving the club, Benzema and Ozil all available when going forward, you would have to fancy them to hit the net at least once.

Veteran Ryan Giggs looks set to earn his 1000th appearance for the Red Devils, and it looks written in the stars he is set to have a major part in the way the game swings.

Yet, for me, the bet lies with the slightly out-of-form Robin Van Persie, who is in a dry-spell by his incredible standards.

He will be looking to make up for his glaring miss in the opening leg by getting on the score-sheet at Old Trafford. The more Madrid begin to push in search of a goal, the more gaps will appear across the back-four. RVP only needs one sight of goal when he’s on form, and he looks set to get a few chances against Los Blancos.

The 11/8 for him to score anytime appeals, and would be a slightly safe bet in what is set to be an enthralling fixture.

Elsewhere on Tuesday evening, Dortmund entertain Shakhtar Donetsk after a 2-2 draw in the first-leg.

Two away goals for Dortmund mean they are in a strong position to advance.

They are imperious at home and know they can play their normal football without having to chase the game. This means they will be able to pick off and counter Shakhtar, allowing Robert Lewandowski to enhance his already growing reputation.

With the likely attacking attitude of Donetsk, he should get his chances to hit the back of the net, and the 5/1 on offer for him to score two or more looks too big to resist.

However with Dortmund beginning to come under so much pressure, due to a dip in their league form, they know they have to qualify in order to ease the pressure.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan has scored 18 goals in his last 18 appearances, and will be a lot sharper after both he and his side have played a few games since finishing the winter break. He looks potentially massive at 3/1 to score any-time, and with Shakhtar looking to get their key man on the ball as often as possible in the final third, it would be no surprise to see him hit the back of the net at least once.


Meanwhile on Wednesday evening, Celtic face a near impossible task of re-clawing a three-goal deficit as they head to Turin to take on Serie A leaders, Juventus.

Celtic by no means disgraced themselves at Celtic Park, yet the difference in class showed, as Juventus were clinical with their limited chances, whereas Celtic were slightly wasteful.

This looks set to be the same for the second leg, yet Juventus will be allowed to simply dictate the pace of the game, as Celtic are set to be all-out attack from the outset.

This will leave them incredibly exposed, and I expect Juventus to grab an early goal and then patiently see the game out. This makes the Evens for Juventus to be leading at both half-time and full-time, a great price.

The final game I will preview is the PSG v Valencia fixture, which looks set to be a tasty affair.

With Ibrahimovic suspended, PSG’s attacking threat has been lessened  however they should have just enough to see off a gritty Valencia.

It looks set to be an open game, with Valencia knowing they have to score at least twice to have any chance of qualifying. Yet, PSG look far too strong defensively, and should stand up to the task well.

The 9/10 for a PSG win looks solid, and should be added to any multiples.

Advice :

1point: Double: Juventus/Juventus and PSG to win – 2.88-1 (BetVictor)

1 point: RVP any-time @ 11/8 (Bet365)

1 point: Henrikh Mkhitaryan any-time @ 3/1 (BetVictor)

2013 profit: +0.8 points profit

Champions League – Last 16 – Value Bets (Week 2)

Following last week’s feast of footballing brilliance in the opening fixtures of the last 16 of this seasons Champions League, there is even more expectation heading in to week two.

It was a solid start in 2013 for the blog, with two tips being landed (Shakhtar/Dortmund draw and Over 2.5 goals in Valencia/PSG), which meant that we finished the week with a 1.8 point profit from a four point output, a solid return.

Arsenal host Bayern Munich on Tuesday, in what looks to be a massive night in North London, in particular for Arsene Wenger. The Frenchman has come under a lot of pressure as of late, following a poor run of form, culminating in being eliminated from the F.A Cup by Championship Blackburn. He understands he either needs to progress into the latter stages of the Champions League or secure fourth place in the Premier League, or his job will be under real pressure.

He will have relayed this message to his players who always seem to turn on the style on big European nights at the Emirates, none more so than when they defeated Barcelona 2-1, two years ago in the competition. This is an extremely different Arsenal side, but there is no reason as to why they should not be able to cause the German defence some problems.


Walcott, Giroud and Podolski are all extremely talented players and with Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere pulling the strings in behind. The 7/5 on offer for Arsenal to score the first goal looks a brilliant bet.

Munich will attempt to press Arsenal high up the pitch, and if this happens, Theo Walcott looks set to be the obvious beneficiary as he is likely to line up opposite the attacking-minded David Alaba, which could be a key battle over the course of the evening. 11/4 for Walcott to score any-time looks enticing, as does the 8/1 for Jack Wilshere.

However it will not be plain sailing for the North London side, and with the likes of Mandzukic, Gomez and Ribery spearheading the German outfit’s attack, there is sure to be goals. Arsenal’s defence has been poor of late, conceding very sloppy goals and with Munich going all out to secure a first-leg lead, they will need to be on their toes to make sure they have any chance of winning the game.

There is limited value in any-time scorers bet, so the short-priced ‘good thing’ for most punters looks to be the 5/6 on offer with Ladbrokes for Bayern Munich to score over 1.5 goals.


Unbeaten Malaga travel to Portugal to face Porto in Tuesday evening’s other fixture, and it looks sure to be a very close encounter.

Porto are strong favourites to overpower the Andalusians, and in-form Jackson Martinez will be out to make sure he can help his side take a lead into the second leg.

He has bagged three in his last four in the Champions League, and eight in five in all competitions and comes into the game in tremendous goal-scoring form. Understandably he is a short price to get on the score-sheet with most firms, however BetVictor are offering a very generous 29/20 for the Colombian to hit the back of the net on Tuesday evening.

Arguably the most anticipated game of the week takes place at the San Siro as AC Milan entertain an imperious Barcelona side. All of the pre-game hype would have surely surrounded Mario Balotelli ahd he not been cup-tied (played for Manchester City in the group stages) but this has allowed the build-up to surround the football itself and in particular the magician that is Lionel Messi.

Messi notched his 300th goal in all competitions for Barcelona last weekend, and will be out to kick-start into the three hundreds as soon as possible. He has a habit of scoring against Milan, and with it likely to be a feisty affair, he is sure to get his chance to get on the score-sheet via set-pieces.

He is currently a stand-out 9/4 with BetVictor to score two or more, and this could turn out to be a magnificent price, as the Argentine has what it takes to put Milan to the sword and put the tie to bed before they face Real Madrid twice within a month in domestic competitions.


The final tie of this week’s fixtures is Galatasaray v Schalke, taking place in Istanbul. It gives Didier Drogba his first chance to taste Champions League football since scoring the winning penalty and subsequently lifting the trophy with Chelsea last May. His link-up play with fellow new boy Wesley Sneijder is set to be a key part of the Turkish sides chances, and the Ivorian has already made a big impact, scoring after only five minutes of his debut last weekend as he helped his side to a 2-1 win.

Galatasary are currently flying in the Super Lig, topping the table by seven points, wherease Schalke are struggling on the domestic front, currently lying in eighth place a massive 27 points off leaders Dortmund.

Their defence has been shaky as of late, and with Drogba seemingly not showing any signs of rustiness, he looks set to reignite his love affair with the Champions League and lead the Turkish side to a first-leg lead, which could prove all important. The 100/30 for Drogba to get on the scoresheet in a Galatasaray win looks too good to ignore.

 Advice (1 point acca):

Arsenal to score the first goal  @ 7/5 (Bet365)

Jackson Martinez to score any-time  @ 29/20 (BetVictor)

Lionel Messi to score 2 or more @ 9/4 (BetVictor)

Didier Drogba to score and Galatasaray to win @ 100/30 (BlueSq)


2013 so far: +1.8 points

Champions League – Last 16 – Value Bets

As I have been away from the blog for a little while, I have decided to adopt a slightly new approach to proceedings, by keeping up to date with the profit/loss made. Last year we made a healthy profit, but I never included actual figures, which could effectively help make your decisions as to whether you trust my judgement, with my tips.

This week signifies the return of Champions League football, with the feature game undoubtedly being Real Madrid hosting Manchester United at the Bernabeu.


The pre-match hype has surrounded Cristiano Ronaldo facing his former club (and rightly so..), and he also takes centre stage with one of our main bets this week. Since moving to Madrid from Manchester United, the Portuguese hit-man has notched up a staggering 136 goals in 123 games, including a hat-trick  against Sevilla last Saturday. He is currently in an incredibly hot streak of form, and will be looking to send a message out to his former employers about what they’re missing (if they didn’t already know..).

With Ronaldo in the side, Madrid look a cut above United, whose defence has already struggled against the likes of Andy Weimann this season. This all points to a Madrid victory and the current 13/8 on offer with William Hill, for Ronaldo to score in a Madrid win, looks too good to ignore.

The other game to be played on Wednesday looks set to be a tasty fair as the gritty Shakhtar Donetsk entertain the classy Borussia Dortmund. It looks set to be an open game, as Dortmund have failed to keep a clean sheet in all but one of their last 19 Champions League away games.

No Ukrainian team has ever beaten Borussia Dortmund in European competitions in six games, however Shakhtar are unbeaten in their last 4 encounters with German clubs in European competitions. These statistics mean that the game looks set to be a draw, and this is backed up by the fact that Dortmund are still unbeaten in the Champions League despite only winning one of their last six away from home, and that Shakhtar have only won two of their last seven Champions League games at home.

The draw is currently a best-priced 5/2 with Bet365, and looks tremendous value.

The ITV fixture of the week takes place at Celtic Park, as Celtic host Juventus. It looks set to be a very tense affair as Celtic know to have any realistic chance of going through, they have to take a lead to the Juventus Stadium. The atmosphere will be electric as Gary Hooper leads the line and attempts to get the all important first goal, however the Italians are renowned for their ability to soak up pressure and hit sides on the break.

The Juventus defence is incredibly disciplined, and should be ready to handle all that Celtic can throw at them. They never look likely to score too many, and for this reason, the 11/4 on offer with Ladbrokes for Juventus to win by exactly one goal appeals.

The final game I will be previewing this week, is the Valencia v PSG game, which is set to be a tight affair, full of attacking flair. PSG arrive in Valencia on the back of six consecutive victories, only conceding two goals in the process.


The French side play free-flowing attacking football, which mirrors the type of football often played at the Mestalla, where goals are always on the menu.

The fact that Thiago Silva, and Thiago Motta, two key defensive figures for PSG are both missing,means the likelihood of Valencia having more luck down the centre has dramatically increased.

It is set to be a footballing feast with Ibrahimovic, Soldado, Gameiro etc all gracing the same pitch, and the result looks extremely hard to call. For this reason, the 13/10 for over 2.5 goals with BetVictor looks a steal, and will allow the viewers to sit back and enjoy what has the potential to be a fantastic game of attacking football.


1 point: Ronaldo to score and Madrid to win @ 13/8 (William Hill)

1 point: Shakhtar/Dortmund draw @ 5/2 (Bet365)

1 point: Juventus to win by exactly 1 goal @ 11/4 (Ladbrokes)

1 point: Valencia/PSG – Over 2.5 goals @ 13/10 (BetVictor)

Champions League 2012/13 – Preview with Best Bets.

Last year’s Champions League was as eventful as ever and eventually went the way of Chelsea, for the first time in their history. They hit 33/1 after losing the first leg of their last-16 game against Napoli 3-1. This result played some part in the sacking of AVB, this led to Di Matteo taking the reigns at the South London club, before guiding them through the second leg in dramatic fashion before going on to lift the trophy three months later in Munich, after beating Bayern on penalties.

This year they will be looking to emulate their success and are currently a best-priced 16/1 to do so. It will be a big task to land back to back Champions League’s, as no team have done so since the brilliant AC Milan side back in 89/90. However after landing the job on a permanent basis, Di Matteo has already done some brilliant business during the transfer window so far, bringing in Eden Hazard, Oscar and Marko Marin. Chelsea often lacked the cutting edge in the final third last year, failing to break defences down and not scoring as many goals as they should have done. The departure of Didier Drogba will pave the way for Fernando Torres to step up to the mark and prove to the world he is still the same magnificent player he was at Liverpool. He has never managed to get a decent run in the Chelsea team, with the amount of striking options that was at AVB/Di Matteo’s disposal, but this year he is set to be first-choice in the absence of Drogba and coming in off the back of winning the Golden Boot at the Euro’s, his confidence will be sky-high. He has always been a confidence player, and the past 18 months, he has looked someone who lacked self-belief, but following the Euro’s, he looks to have found his shooting boots, and with that comes confidence. He will be a key man for Chelsea, and will be key in any success they are to have this year.

Runners-up Bayern Munich have also been busy in the transfer market in an attempt to go one better than last year. They have brought in a number of new faces, which has given their squad tremendous strength in depth. The aquisition of Mario Mandzukic is superb one and the Croatian front-man looks set to have a massive season. He scored on his first competitive start for Bayern in the German Supercup against Bundesliga winners Borussia Dortmund, notching the first after six minutes in a 2-1 win for Munich. The 14/1 on offer for Bayern may tempt many, but they lack the flair against defensive opposition so I can see them coming up short again. But when the top goalscorer markets are released, it may pay to have a little flutter on Mandzukic being top.

Unsurprisingly, the two joint-favourites for the competition come from Spain. Barcelona have a great record in recent years, having won the Champions League in 2006, 2009 and 2011, beating English opposition in each final. They will be hoping for a repeat performance this year under new manager Tito Villanova, who had previously been assistant under Pep Guardiola from 2008 until taking over as the manager in June of this year. He has inherited arguably the greatest squad on the planet, headed by the worlds greatest, Lionel Messi. Messi is immensely talented, and never fails to make a difference. While he is on the pitch, anything is possible, and with David Villa returning to the squad, the team is sure to get goals. Their defence has often been highlighted as a potential weak spot, but when looking at the arrivals:

Alex Song
Defensive Midfield
Arsenal FC
  Premier League
16.720.000 £
Jordi Alba 10.000.000 €”>Jordi Alba
Fullback, left
Valencia CF
  Primera División
12.320.000 £
Marc Muniesa 2.500.000 €”>Marc Muniesa
Centre Back
FC Barcelona B
  Segunda División
Martín Montoya 4.000.000 €”>Martín Montoya
Fullback, right
FC Barcelona B
  Segunda División
Marc Bartra 2.500.000 €”>Marc Bartra
Centre Back
FC Barcelona B
  Segunda División
Jonathan dos Santos 2.500.000 €”>Jonathan dos Santos
Central Midfield
FC Barcelona B
  Segunda División
Henrique 3.000.000 €”>Henrique *

You can see Tito is attempting so sure up the defensive side of the team, and Jordi Alba is a massive signing. He can attack with menace, as shown by his goal in the Euro Championship final but he can also defend extremely well and is regarded as one of the top three left-backs in the world. Alex Song has been brought in to hold in the midfield, but can also adopt to a centre-back role, meaning along with Mascherano, they have versaitaile holding midfielders who can play anywhere across the back. This could be the difference, and with the wealth of riches Barcelona have in midfield and attack, with the likes of Xavi, Iniesta and Fabgregas, it would take a brave man to back against them. However, they have began the new season slowly and other teams will be hopeful of explointing any weaknesses they find, especially with the new manager. They look to have the best squad in the world, but at a best price 7/2, there may be better value elsewhere.

Real Madrid on the other hand, look as steady as ever, with ‘the special one’ Jose Mourinho still at the helm. Los Blancos are the most successful club in the competitions history, with nine wins and Mourinho will be confident of adding a tenth. Madrid have strengethened their already exceptional midfield, by acquiring arguably the best deep-lying play-maker on the planet, Luca Modric. He will give the side that added creativity in midfield, and will help turn defence into attack in one smooth move. His range of passing is superb, and the attackers will be excited to be able to feed off his service. He is likely to line up next to the always solid and consistent Xabi Alonso, who now have a midfield strong enough to challenge Barcelona’s. With Europe’s greatest player, Cristiano Ronaldo, spearheading the attack, there is sure to be goals, and Madrid will be as confident as ever to build on last years unfortunate semi-final loss, and add the tenth Champions League in the clubs glistening history.

There will be an extremely strong challenge from Italy this year, in the shape of Juventus and AC Milan. Last years Serie A winners Juventus will be out to prove a point after not playing in Europe at all last season. They managed to fight off the challenge of AC Milan in the league, and secure their first Scudetto since the ’02/03 season, possibly helped by the lack of European distractions. This year, they have added to their squad, with numerous strong signings from across the world, most notably purchasing the other 50% of Sebastian Giavinco’s transfer rights from Parma. He will add that goalscoring touch alongside Mirko Vucinic. They look solid, and the Juventus Stadium is always a tough place to go, but I doubt their ability to go away from home and score goals, which could cause problems in the latter stages. So they would need to be considerably bigger than the current 16/1 to tempt me.

AC Milan have gotten rid of two of their key-men, in Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva. The club raked in £55 million from PSG during these sales and are yet to re-invest it. Milan have started their Serie A campaign very slowly, going down 1-0 at home to Sampdoria. They will need to pick up the pace and make two or three world class signings to be in the position to mount a serious challenge.

Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal complete the strong English challenge, along with holders Chelsea. Both Manchester United and Manchester City will be out to make amends on rather disappointing showings in last years competition, when they bowed out in the group stages. Manchester United have strengthened their squad massively, acquiring the highly-rated Shinji Kagawa from Borussia Dortmund as-well as Robin Van Persie from rivals Arsenal. RVP is sure to bring goals to the side, which is something, at times,  they lacked last year, as-well as the creativity in the final third that Kagawa will bring. The return of Vidic is massive, as is the form that De Gea seems to have started the season in. Expect a bold showing from United this year, as Ferguson will be going all out to land the European Cup at least once more before he finally retires. With the group they have, RVP will have many chances to get on the score-sheet in the opening games and he could be a value bet for top-scorer.

Manchester City were well fancied by many last season, when they flopped in the group stages. Going away from home, they looked extremely vulnerable and their defence has started the season in the exact same fashion this year. They have immense attacking quality, with Aguero, Tevez, Balotelli, David Silva etc, but their defence has often let them down. Joe Hart is one of the best goalkeepers in the world, and will give his defence confidence that they have a pair of safe hands behind them, and he will be key to any success that City have. They have been dealt an extremely tough draw and at a best-priced 10/1, it would be difficult to hammer into them knowing they face a mammoth task, to even get out of their group.

Arsenal have started the season in mixed fashion, initially failing to score in their opening games before hitting form and showing what we all know they can do. They have a wonderful set-up, with a beautiful passing game. The departure of RVP is a massive loss for Wenger’s men, but in Podolski and Giroud, they have two apt replacements. They have a pair of forwards who have the potential to link-up and finish the chances provided by the solid midfield behind them. Santi Cazorla is one of the captures of the season, and his creativity is something Arsenal has definitely lacked in recent years, in the absence of Fabregas. They should be able to comfortably escape their group and the 25/1 may be some each-way value for small-stake punters.

Group Overview:

Group A: Paris Saint-Germain (11/10), FC Porto (15/8), Dynamo Kiev (7), Din Zagreb (25)

PSG will be pleased with their group, after avoiding many of Europe’s big guns. The French side have been splashing the cash in the the summer transfer window, bringing in many high class players in an attempt to land the Champions League for the first time. Lucas Moura, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Marco Verratti, Thiago Silva and Ezequiel Lavezzi have all signed for the club for massive transfer fees and expectation will be huge. They should comfortably come through their group with the amount of class they possess and it would be no shock to see them progress very far in the competition.

It looks as though Porto, Kiev and Zagreb will all be battling it out for second place, and 2004 winners Porto, look set to take that role. Seeded first in the draw, they will be fairly pleased with the draw, although trips to the Ukraine and Croatia will not be easy. They should be able to beat both Kiev and Zagreb on their own turf, and providing PSG do the same, all Porto would have to do, is stop the sides from beating them, which they should be able to do.

Group B: Arsenal (4/5), Schalke 04 (3), Montpellier (7), Olympiakos (14)

Arsenal will be hopeful of getting out of this group, but they do have to face tricky away days across France, Germany and Greece. They should be able to get maximum points at the Emirates however and as long as they pick up points at Montpellier and Olympiakos they should be able to top the group.

Of the rest, it looks a straight battle between Schalke and Montpellier for minor honours. Schalke have tremendous strength in depth, and with the likes of Huntelaar and Affelay (who is on loan from Barcelona), the German side should progress as runners-up.

Group C: AC Milan (13/11), Zenit St Petersburg (2), Malaga (5), Anderlecht (22)

It looks a straight battle between Milan and Zenit as to who tops the group, with Malaga close behind before a massive gulf in class between the rest and Anderlecht. Milan have started the season slowly and I can imagine it will take a while they hit top gear, so it may be wise to take a little risk on Zenit, who have recently acquired the highly-rated Hulk and Axil Witsel. They are 2/1 to win the group and this looks decent value, with Milan expected to fill the runners-up spot.

Group D: Real Madrid (10/11), Man City (5/2), Bor Dortmund (7), Ajax (33)

The group of death includes four champions from four different countries. Any team that wants to progress will have to be on top of their game and it would be no surprise to see the eventual winner, to come from this group.

Madrid always put in a major showing in whatever they take part in and they should have too much class for the opponents, and the 10/11 for them to top the group looks tremendous value. They host Manchester City first game, and a victory here would set them on their way to topping the group. Manchester City have never impressed in European competitions but should be able to see off Dortmund and Ajax, which would be enough to secure the runners-up spot.

Group E: Chelsea (20/19), Juventus (13/8), Shakhtar Donetsk (9), FC Nordsjaelland (100)

Chelsea have impressed so far this year in the Premier League, and Eden Hazard looks set to show his class on the big stage. Stamford Bridge is always a difficult place to go and the fact they are odds-against is a shock for me. The group could well go down to goal difference, and Juventus have never really been known as a team that scores many, as it is the strength of their defence that often gets them out of trouble. The pair should draw clear of Shakhtar and FC Nordsjaelland and it looks a banker forecast, for it to finish Chelsea/Juventus.

Group F: Bayern Munich (1/2), Valencia (3), Lille (10), BATE Borisov (33)

Essentially Group F is Bayern Munich’s group to lose. They should comfortably have enough to see off the declining giants Valencia and Lille who have lost their star-man Eden Hazard. Bate Borisov will struggle to get anything out of the group, and look set to finish in a distant last place.

It looks between Valencia and Lille for the runner-up position, and Valencia should be able to progress, as they look to  have too much fire-power for their French opponents, in the shape of Soldado and Jonas.

Group G: Barcelona (2/13), Benfica (9), Spartak Moscow (20), Celtic (66)

Barcelona should comfortably win the group, with Benfica filling the runners-up spot. Spartak and Celtic both lack the strength-in-depth to compete with Europe’s big guns at this stage, and it should be a procession.

Group H: Man Utd (2/7), Braga (8), Galatasaray (10), CFR Cluj (50)

Manchester United have managed to avoid all of Europe’s big-guns and will be extremely pleased with their group. They face tricky away ties across some tough parts of Europe, but they should top the group comfortably, with the strength of their current squad.

It will be extremely close between Braga and Galatasaray as to who fills the runner up-spot, and I think it may pay to side with Galatasaray. The Türk Telekom Arena as it is now known, is always a tough place to travel, and the Galatasaray fans will play a key part in making it a fortress, and an extremely difficult atmosphere for the away teams to come to.


Manchester United to win the Champions League: 0.5 point e.w @ 10/1

RVP top scorer and Manchester United to win UCL: 1 point @ 66/1 

Madrid, Barca, Chelsea, Munich, United to win their groups: 2 points @ 13/2

PSG, Arsenal, Zenit to win groups: 1 point @ 10.34/1