By Antony Jordan
The biggest and best club football competition in Europe kicks off this Tuesday with the first round of the Champions League group stages and this kicks off our Champions League Picks. The top sides from around the continent look to begin their campaigns towards taking the title from Real Madrid. We’re taking a look at the biggest three matches playing on opening night of the competition with online sportsbook Bet365.com to provide our favourite Champions League picks.
The French and English sides clash for the first time in Europe’s premier club football competition on Tuesday evening as they open their Group A campaigns looking for the edge over the other having recorded the same set of results in their domestic campaigns. Although the odds suggest otherwise it is the EPL side that come into this clash with the better form as they have bounced back from losing 4-3 to Liverpool and drawing with Leicester by beating Watford and Southampton, with the latter three point haul in the Premier League coming in injury time at the weekend.
PSG won their two opening matches of the season before losing 3-1 away at Monaco and then drawing 1-1 on this ground with Saint-Étienne last Friday night, but with them losing their star, talismanic striker in Zlatan Ibrahimovic over the summer and a new manager arriving at the club as Unai Emery guided Sevilla to a third successive Europa League title, they are still finding their feet coming into this biggest clash of the season for both teams.
With their additions to their squad Arsenal have certainly found their feet and despite being the outsiders at the Parc des Princes for this clash they may very well find themselves as the stronger of these two teams in the French capital. We can certainly see them getting something from this clash and bringing at least a point back to the Emirates, but we feel that the best value on this Group A opener is on goals as both sides have been scoring and conceding in the French and English leagues this season.
This Group C pairing sees these EPL and Bundesliga sides drawn in the same Champions League group for the second season in a row following the home and away clashes that produced nine goals during the 2015/16 campaign. Man City triumphed in Manchester and Germany last time around and they are heavily favoured to secure a third victory in two seasons on home soil as they continue their European exploits following a 6-0 aggregate defeat of Steaua Bucureşti to qualify for the group stages.
City will be confidence for this match as they are the only side in the EPL with a 100% winning record, even beating their city rivals Man United 2-1 at the weekend without Sergio Aguero. The Argentine is banned for three EPL matches, but is free to play in Europe so he’ll be desperate to add to the three goals he scored in the Play Off match to secure City’s place in the group while Ilkay Gundogan will want to impress too in what promises to be his debut for his new side after recovering from a knee injury.
Monchengladbach qualified for the group stage via the Play Offs too as they saw off Swiss side Young Boys 9-2 but they have been hit and miss in the league this season winning 2-1 at home to Leverkusen and losing 3-1 away at Freiburg. With a poor showing on the road coupled with back to back defeats to City last season and a Sergio Aguero desperate to be unleashed we cannot see this match going the way of the German side.
Our money is on Manchester City to beat Monchengladbach by at least two goals (Man City -1) at odds of 2.00 with Bet365.
This first match from Group C for the Spanish and Scottish sides is the second meeting of the teams in less than two months after Barcelona triumphed 3-1 in Dublin when they teams clashed in the International Champions Cup. The Spanish champions were missing a number of players in that last meeting, but after resting Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Andres Iniesta at the weekend they will be at full strength for this match and, as the match odds suggest, they’ll be confident of another easy win.
However, Barcelona will be hurting after losing to Deportivo Alavés at the weekend due to their resting of players and with Celtic having won their biggest derby match against Rangers 5-1 before this match the Scottish champions will also believe that they can win if their hosts are not giving 100% at the Camp Nou this Tuesday evening.
Barcelona have conceded four goals in two league matches on home soil this season, but with seven goals scored they will believe that they can outscore Celtic, especially with only midfielder Andre Gomes unlikely to make this match. Celtic have not shone in Europe with losses in Gibraltar and Israel as well as a draw in Kazakhstan in the away legs of their three qualifying matches, and they were beaten 6-1 on their last visit to this ground three years ago.
Just as the match odds suggest we see this match going the way of the home side and there being goals too and this is what we are backing to happen at the Nou Camp.