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The intense schedule of Champions League group matches continues, with sixteen matches played earlier this week. The thirty two teams will be whittled down to sixteen by the time of the draw on 16 December, and punters are already placing bets on who will lift the Champions League trophy at the final on 30th May next year. We focus on the onward progression of the English sides – Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspurs – as it would require the patience of Job to do all thirty two teams justice!
Defending champions, Liverpool, dominated their Group E match against Genk with a 4-1 win in Belgium. Oxlade-Chamberlain, with his first start for the team since last spring when he injured his knee, scored two goals for the Liverpool side, with Mane and Salah also hitting the back of the net. Coach Jurgen Klopp is understandably delighted, the more so for this being only the second away win in 11 games in the Champions League group stages. Bookmakers Unibet offer odds of 7/1 that Liverpool will do the double and win the tournament again this year.
Manchester City though remain the bookies’ top choice with odds of 7/2 from 888Sport. Pep Guardiola’s team crushed the Italian side Atalanta 5-1 this week and remain eager to win the Champions League competition for the first time. Man City have a 100% record in Group C and are pretty much certain to go through to the final 16. If they win away to Atalanta in their last group game, their progression is certain.
Chelsea coach Frank Lampard knows exactly how lifting the Champions League trophy feels. The 41-year old played in the Champions League Final back in 2011/12 when Chelsea won 4-3 on penalties against Bayern Munich. Now he wants to drive his young team into the next round and beyond. The 1-0 win against Ajax this week places the Blues at the top of Group H with Micky Batshuayi aka “Batman” swooping in for an 86th minute goal. The team managed to neutralise the threat of Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek and winger Hakim Ziyech and this win – against the Dutch side that reached the Semi-Finals in 2018/19 – may silence critics who have doubted Lampard’s abilities as a newbie coach who has only been in post since this summer. Bookmaker Betfred offers 33/1 odds that Chelsea will win the Champions League Final.
Despite being in the 2018/19 Final – losing to Liverpool – Tottenham Hotspur are not fancied to win the Champions League this year, with odds of 40/1 available from Unibet. Coach Mauricio Pochettino’s team has not performed in the Premier League this season with the defence looking particularly weak. But they delivered a solid 5-0 win against the lacklustre Crvena Zvezda (aka Red Star Belgrade). After their own 7-2 drubbing at home earlier this month against Bayern Munich, an early exit from the Champions League had seemed likely but now Spurs have engineered an opportunity to make it into the final 16. The final group match is once again against Red Star in Belgrade. The Serbian team has a formidable record at home, however, and Spurs will need to dig deep.