2007/1 Acca: Our Champions League Group Picks
Group A: Manchester City Winner, PSG Runner Up - 6/4
Manchester City and PSG are the favourites to qualify from Group A in the Champions League which also consists of RB Leipzig and Club Brugge, especially when taking into account the fact that Leipzig lost the likes of Julian Nagelsmann, Dayot Upamecano and Marcel Sabitzer to Bundesliga rivals Bayern Munich.
City were beaten finalists in last season’s competition which included them comfortably beating PSG 4-1 on aggregate in the semi-finals where the Parisian’s didn’t even manage a shot on target in the second-leg despite trailing 2-1 going into the match. Pep Guardiola showed his tactical superiority over two legs against Mauricio Pochettino which is something he’ll need to do again considering PSG have signed Lionel Messi, Sergio Ramos, Gini Wijnaldum, Achraf Hakimi and Gianluigi Donnarumma for the 2021/22 season.
Champions League Group A Winner/Runners Up Tips 2021/22
GROUP A: MANCHESTER CITY WINNER, PSG RUNNER UP @ 6/4
Group B: Liverpool Winner, Atletico Madrid Runner Up - 5/2
Group B has been regarded as one of the trickiest draws in the competition, as Liverpool, Atletico Madrid, AC Milan and Porto have all been drawn to play one another.
Liverpool are the favourites to win the group having won the Champions League back in 2019 with a very similar squad to that which they have now. The Anfield club were knocked out against Real Madrid last season, but, were missing several key players such as Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip at the heart of their defence.
Atletico Madrid won La Liga last season and have a good record in the Champions League having made the final of this competition in 2014 and 2016 due to the tactical awareness of coach Diego Simeone. It will be a close match between Liverpool and Atletico as to who finishes at the top of the group, whilst AC Milan finished second in Serie A last time out, but they lost key player such as Donnarumma on a free transfer to PSG, as well as Hakan Calhanoglu, whilst French duo Mike Maignan and Olivier Giroud arrived at the San Siro.
Porto produced one of the shocks of the competition last season when they knocked out Juventus in the Round of 16 via away goals, but it will take something special to qualify from this group containing three fellow European giants. If predictions are to be true, then they will likely be battling hard for the Europa League place in the group stages.
Champions League Group B Winner/Runners Up Tips 2021/22
GROUP B: LIVERPOOL WINNER, ATLETICO MADRID RUNNER UP @ 5/2
Group C: Borussia Dortmund Winner, Ajax Runner Up - 5/2
Group C contains champions from three different countries in Ajax, Besiktas and Sporting Lisbon, whilst Borussia Dortmund who are the favourites to advance from this group finished third last time out.
With the likes of Erling Haaland, Marco Reus, Jude Bellingham, Mats Hummels and Donyell Malen in their ranks, the Bundesliga outfit are expected to win this group in comfortable fashion due to the incredible quality that they possess. It will be a close call between who finishes second, but Ajax are the favourites due to their pedigree in this competition, as well as the fact that they have so far retained all of their key players from last season.
As Liga Nos champions, Sporting Lisbon will be expected to run Ajax close with talents such as Pedro Goncalves and Nuno Mendes in their side, but, their lack of Champions League experience could see them fall short, whilst Besiktas will be desperate to push for qualification having snapped up Michy Batshuayi of Chelsea, as well as Alex Teixeira on a free transfer.
Champions League Group C Winner/Runners Up Tips 2021/22
GROUP C: BORUSSIA DORTMUND WINNER, AJAX RUNNER UP @ 5/2
Group D: Real Madrid Winner, Inter Milan Runner Up - 4/5
Group D should be fairly simple as to who qualifies, as Real Madrid and Inter Milan will go up against Shakhtar Donetsk and Sheriff Tiraspol, although the Ukrainian’s did cause a shock by finishing above inter in their group last season and also did the double over Real.
Real and Inter have both since got new managers in Carlo Ancelotti and Simone Inzaghi, with Ancelotti having a terrific record in this competition, having won it three times with AC Milan twice, as well as once with Los Blancos in 2014. Real have made two signings this summer in David Alaba and Eduardo Camavinga as they look to put last season’s trophyless campaign behind them. What may test Real this season is the departures of both Ramos and Raphael Varane which will mean that one of Eder Militao or Nacho Fernandez will have to step up their game.
Inter have sold the likes of top scorer Romelu Lukaku and Achraf Hakimi due to financial problems, but, have replaced them well with the likes of Denzel Dumfries, Edin Dzeko and Joaquin Correa all arriving at the San Siro.
Realistically both Real and Inter should have enough in their squads to qualify ahead of Shakhtar who narrowly beat an out of form AS Monaco side 3-2 on aggregate to qualify for the competition, as well as overwhelming Moldovan champions Sheriff with their quality, despite the fact that they beat the likes of Dinamo Zagreb and Crvena Zvezda on their way to qualifying via the playoffs.
Champions League Group D Winner/Runners Up Tips 2021/22
GROUP D: REAL MADRID WINNER, INTER MILAN RUNNER UP @ 4/5
Group E: Bayern Munich Winner, Barcelona Runner Up - 11/8
Bayern Munich and Barcelona are expected to comfortably progress ahead of Benfica and Dynamo Kyiv in Group E due to the quality which their squads possess.
The Bundesliga champions were treble winners as recently as 2020 and famously hammered Barcelona 8-2 in the quarter-finals that season due to the superior quality and athleticism that their squad had.
Many believe that Bayern would have gone further in last year’s competition if it wasn’t for Robert Lewandowski’s absence in both legs of their narrow defeat to PSG on away goals. Bayern who are under new management in Nagelsmann have signed Upamecano to replace Alaba, as well as Sabitzer to bulk out their midfield options which could possibly allow Kimmich to revert to his right-back role if needed.
Meanwhile, Barca lost Messi on a free transfer in the summer to PSG which sent shockwaves through the world of football. Despite Barca’s perilous financial state, they did still manage to sign Eric Garcia, Sergio Aguero and Memphis Depay on free transfers.
Champions League Group E Winner/Runners-up Tips 2021/22
GROUP E: BAYERN MUNICH WINNER, BARCELONA RUNNER UP @ 11/8
Group F: Manchester United Winner, Atalanta Runner Up - 2/1
Group F sees the re-union of Manchester United and Villarreal, as well as seeing the Red Devils play Atalanta and Young Boys.
United are firm favourites to top Group F, having had a sensational summer transfer window that has seen them sign the likes of Varane, Jadon Sancho and Cristiano Ronaldo. Last season, United showed that they had the potential to do well in the competition when they beat PSG 2-1 at the Parc des Princes, before hammering Leipzig 5-0 at home, but, due to inconsistent performances, they bowed out of the competition at the group stages.
Atalanta showed that they have what it takes to do well in Europe last season when they qualified from the group stages having managed to win at Anfield against Liverpool and away at Ajax. Due to their intense attacking style of play, they should have too much for a Villarreal side who could only manage a seventh-place finish in La Liga last season and qualified via winning the Europa League.
Champions League Group F Winner/Runners-up Tips 2021/22
GROUP F: MANCHESTER UNITED WINNER, ATALANTA RUNNER UP @ 2/1
Group G: Sevilla & Wolfsburg Both to Qualify - 11/4
Sevilla and Wolfsburg are who we have chosen to qualify from Group G as they are up against Lille and Red Bull Salzburg in the group.
Both Sevilla and Wolfsburg qualified for this competition via fourth-placed finishes in La Liga and the Bundesliga, this was via both teams having good defensive records as Sevilla let in just 33 goals in the league, whilst Wolfsburg conceded 37 times. Both of these teams have started their league campaigns in good fashion so far as Sevilla have earned seven points from three games, whilst Wolfsburg are top of the Bundesliga with a perfect record having won all three matches that they have played.
Since Lille’s Ligue 1 triumph last campaign against all odds they have lost some key figures, as their manager, Christophe Galtier left the club to take over at Nice, whilst Boubakary Soumare, Maignan have departed the club, whilst Renato Sanches looks likely to leave to join Wolves on loan on transfer deadline day.
Salzburg have given good accounts of themselves in the Champions League over the past couple of years, but, following the sales of Haaland and Dominik Szoboszlai in recent years, as well Zambian duo Enock Mwepu and Patson Daka this summer, it would be a tough ask for them to qualify from this group.
Champions League Group Stage Both Teams to Qualify Tips 2021/22
GROUP G: SEVILLA & WOLFSBURG BOTH TO QUALIFY @ 11/4
Group H: Chelsea & Juventus Both to Qualify - 4/11
Chelsea come into this campaign as the champions of Europe and will face the likes of Juventus, Malmo and Zenit in Group H.
Both Juventus and Chelsea are expected to comfortably qualify from this group despite the Old Lady’s sale of Ronaldo to United this summer. Chelsea have shown in the Premier League that they have what it takes to overcome any obstacles that they face, as they managed a 1-1 draw at Anfield in a comfortable manner despite being down to 10 men for the whole of the second-half od the game. Their signing of Lukaku from Inter also sees them as one of the favourites to win the Premier League this season.
Despite Ronaldo’s departure, Juve still have a lot of talent in their squad with a defensive core that has the likes of Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci and Mathijs De Ligt, with Manuel Locatelli protecting it in the midfield. Massimiliano Allegri’s side also have the likes of Paulo Dybala, Alvaro Morata, Federico Chiesa and Dejan Kulusevski who can play across the forward line.