Football: Champions League draw provides a host of betting opportunities

Jose Mourinho Chelsea

CHELSEA and Bayern Munich played their part in an enthralling European Super Cup final on a day when both teams learned their fate in the draw for this seasons UEFA Champions League.

Champions League Groups / Europa League Groups

The draw provided some intriguing groups and others which appear far more predictable…

Bayern Munich remain favourites to defend their crown with William Hill pricing them at 7/2. They have been drawn in Group D against Manchester City, who are expected to mount a more serious challenge this season, and the unpredictable CSKA Moscow, a team which has experienced little success in Europe since their UEFA Cup victory in 2005.

Jose Mourinho will be delighted with the draw for Chelsea in Group E, with the inconsistent Schalke 04 providing the main opposition. The Blues odds of 10/1with Sporting Bet appear to be rather generous whereas they are also priced at 15/8 by Betfred to be the English team to progress furthest.

Bet Victor are offering 14/1 for Manchester United after they were drawn to compete against Shakhtar Donetsk, Real Sociedad and Bayer Leverkusen. All three teams are capable of progressing to the next stage.

Meanwhile, Arsene Wenger faces an even more difficult task in steering Arsenal into the knock-out phase. The Gunners are joined in Group F by Marseille, Napoli and Borussia Dortmund who are 25/1 with Bet Victor to improve upon their defeat in the final last season.  188Bet are offering 6/5 on Arsenal to be eliminated at the group stage while outsiders Marseille will prove difficult opposition and they are 10/3 at Bet365 to progress.

Barcelona and AC Milan appear set to dominate Group H but SkyBet are offering 12/1 on Celtic to repeat their performance from last season and qualify for the next stage. Neil Lennon’s team did beat Barcelona last season but their squad may now be slightly weaker.

In the betting for the race to be top goalscorer, Lionel Messi once again leads the market. Coral offer him at 11/4 and given Barcelona’s relatively lenient draw, the Argentinan could reclaim the title from Cristiano Ronaldo who is 7/2 with Bet365.  Real Madrid face Juventus and Galatasaray in a fairly difficult group.

Last year’s runner-up Robert Lewandowski is 28/1 with Coral and he is still the preferred leading striker at Borussia Dortmund, who are favourites to win the tough Group F.

Among other bets worth considering are a repeat of the 2012-13 Champions League final between Bayern Munich and Dortmund being offered at 33/1 by Paddy Power, who have also priced a Bayern versus Chelsea final at 20/1.

André Villas-Boas

André Villas-Boas’s men at 10/1 favourites

On the following day from the Champions League draw, the equivalent for the Europa League was completed.

Of the teams competing, Tottenham Hotspur have been installed as favourites at 10/1 with Ladbrokes and their most difficult opponents in Group K appear to be Anzhi Makhachkala who are now beset by a reduced team budget.

One team worth noting are the improving Belgian Outfit Zulte Waregem who are 8/1 with William Hill to qualify from an open Group D.

Yet with both finalists for last season’s Europa League final finishing third in their respective Champions League group, Boylesports are offering 2/1 on any Champions League team winning the 2013-14 tournament.

With both Group stages beginning in mid-September, the following three months should provide some class displays from the favourites and unexpected performances from relative outsiders.

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