WhichBookie racing analyst Will Smith provides a preview and two each-way selections for the sponsored card at Fontwell Park on Wednesday 20th October
Just six weeks after the delayed 2019/20 Champions League Final in Lisbon, Europe’s top football teams are gearing up for the Group Stages of the 2020/21 tournament. Twenty six teams participate as direct entrants, with a further six as play-off winners. In total, thirty two teams from 15 countries across Europe will compete over the next eight months, all striving to be crowned UEFA Champions League winner at the Final on 29 May next year.
The Group Stage draw took place on Friday, and football fans will be delighted with some of the forthcoming fixtures. The prospect of a match between Lionel Messi’s Barcelona and Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus is enticing. Manchester United’s match against PSG will also be a highlight of the Group Stages, as will the Bayern Munich fixture with Atletico Madrid.
Bayern Munich (Group A) lifted the Champions League trophy on 23 August, after beating Paris Saint-Germain 1-0, and remain favourites this time round with all major bookmakers across the board offering odds of 4/1. The German champion’s match against Atletico Madrid is a “must see” of the Group Stages and will take place on Tuesday 20 October.
Manchester City (Group C) are not far behind though, with odds of 9/2 from Unibet. These are favourable odds given City’s injury worries have led to a disappointing start in the Premier League this season that has included a 5-2 home defeat to Leicester City and, most recently, a 1-1 draw against recently-promoted Leeds United. At present, Pep Guardiola’s team are ranked 14th in the Premier League but it is early days and these setbacks can be surmounted. The team has the ability to perform at the highest level and they remain second favourites in both the Premier League (with odds of 13/8 from BetFred) and the Champions League.
City have come out of the draw well, avoiding major European rivals, and the team’s first fixture is on Wednesday 21 October, against Porto. The team suffered a shock 1-3 loss to Lyon in last season’s quarter-finals and players will be hoping to avoid any surprise results this time round.
Liverpool (Group D) has also had a bumpy start to the domestic season which reached its nadir last night when the team was thrashed 2-7 by Aston Villa. After winning the Premier League title in June, after a 30-year hiatus, Liverpool are certainly one of the teams to beat in this season’s Champions League. The Reds launch their Champions League campaign playing against Dutch team Ajax on Wednesday 21 October.
Last season’s runner-up, Paris Saint-Germain (Group H), are also a front-runner to win the Champions League this time round with odds of 11/1 from bookie, Bet365. European footballing giants, Real Madrid (Group B), Juventus (Group G) and Barcelona (also Group G) cannot be discounted either, with odds of 14/1 for Real (Spreadex), and 16/1 for Juventus and Barcelona (both available at William Hill).
Manchester United (Group H) are outside the top tier of teams tipped for the Champions League title this year, with best odds of 33/1 from Spreadex, and the draw was disappointing for the club. The Red Devils will face two of last season’s semi-finalists – PSG in their initial match on Tuesday 20 October, with another tough fixture – against RB Leipzig- on the second matchday on Wednesday 28 October.
In contrast, Chelsea (Group E) have emerged from the draw in a relatively good position. The Blues will play the winners of last season’s Europa Cup, Sevilla, in their first match on Tuesday 20 October. Frank Lampard’s team are similarly outsiders for the competition , however, with best odds of 25/1 from SkyBet.
Group A: Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid, Red Bull Salzberg, Lokomotiv Moscow
Group B: Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk, Inter Milan, Borussia Monchengladbach
Group C: FC Porto, Manchester City, Olympiakos, Marseille
Group D: Liverpool, Ajax, Atalanta, Midtjylland
Group E: Sevilla, Chelsea, Krasnodar, Rennes
Group F: Zenit St Petersburg, Borussia Dortmund, Lazio, Club Brugge
Group G: Juventus, Barcelona, Dynamo Kyiv, Ferencvaros
Group H: Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United, RB Leipzig, Istanbul Basaksehir
Matchday 1 20/21 October
Matchday 2 27/28 October
Matchday 3 3/ 4 November
Matchday 4 24/25 November
Matchday 5 1/ 2 December
Matchday 6 8/9 December
The draw takes place on 14 December. The first legs are scheduled for 16/17 and 23/24 February, with the second legs on 9/10 and 16/17 of March.
The draw will be on 19 March with the first legs on 6/7 April and the second legs on 13/14 April.
The draw takes place on the same date as the quarter-finals, 19 March, with the first legs on 27/28 April and the second legs on 4/ 5 May.
The Final of the 2020/21 Champions League will be held at the Atatürk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul on 29 May