Preview and Predictions for UEFA Champions League B
Many people find the group stages of the UEFA Champions League a bit boring, and I can understand why. However, I don’t think there will be a lack of excitement in this year’s group B of the tournament.
Lionel Messi and his Barcelona are certainly the team to watch, but Tottenham Hotspur, Inter Milan, and PSV Eindhoven all have the ambition to fight for a place in the next stage of the Champions League.
This makes the group one of the most unpredictable, at least on paper. And yet, I intend to explore what kind of betting opportunities are available and see if there is any value out there.
Let’s take a look at each team and its chances to progress.
I know that we’re talking about Barcelona here, but the odds are absolutely abysmal. Sure, the side is among the favorites to win the tournament, but 1.13 in a group like that? I must say that I instantly feel that there is no point in taking this option.
Still, that doesn’t mean that the Catalonian team is not the favorite in this group. I think Barcelona’s main problem last year was the lack of squad depth which cost the side in the later stages of the season.
The club certainly addressed the main issues by signing Malcom, Clement Lenglet, Arthur, and Arturo Vidal. Ousmane Dembele should be fit this time around, which should help the team become even better up front.
At the same time, Barcelona didn’t lose any of its important players, so there won’t be big changes compared to the 2017-2018 campaign which saw the team win the Spanish La Liga comfortably.
It all looked good in the UEFA Champions League as well, but AS Roma achieved one of the most remarkable comebacks in the tournament history to dump Barcelona.
Ernesto Valverde will be hoping that the depth of the squad this time around will help his side remain more consistent in the later stages of the season. But still, Barcelona has to survive a scary group first.
The start of the season in the Spanish La Liga shows that the side is at its best, with the formidable attack led by Leo Messi already scoring 12 goals in just 3 games.
I certainly expect Barcelona to show more of the same in the Champions League as well, and the team is the favorite in this group. And yet, the competition is strong enough to cause trouble, so the prices for the Catalonian side are simply unacceptable.
Tottenham has been one of the most exciting teams in Europe in the past couple of years. The ambitious Mauricio Pochettino managed to build a strong squad that relies on many young and talented players.
The Spurs have been involved in the title fight for the English Premier League a couple of times and produced some stunning displays in the Champions League.
A quick look at the group stage last year shows that Tottenham won a group that included Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund. Not only that, but the Spurs had 16 points from the possible 18, which made them the best team in the group stages of the tournament.
This is a testimony to the quality of the side, but there is a big question surrounding Tottenham. For how long could this squad stay intact if the Spurs don’t win a trophy? I think this year will probably be crucial in this regard.
The team has been exceptional for a couple of seasons, but players like Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli, and some of the other talented guys will certainly want to have something to show for their efforts. The same applies to Mauricio Pochettino, who’s one of the best managers in Europe.
If the Spurs don’t win something this year, I feel that some of them could leave to try their luck elsewhere. This is why the team will be completely motivated to make the next step.
The start of the English Premier League has been mixed, in my opinion, and Mauricio Pochettino seems to agree with me. The first couple of games were a bit deceiving, as Tottenham did get the points, but the performance wasn’t special.
Still, there is one bright side, and it’s related to the emergence of Lucas Moura. The guy needed some time to adapt, but it seems that he could easily form a Batman and Robin partnership with Harry Kane.
The Spurs simply need a bit more from their defense right now, and they will be formidable once again. This is the reason I see the price of 4.00 for Tottenham to win the group as way too high. If they could do it against the future winner Real Madrid last year, they could do it against Barcelona this year.
Luciano Spalletti was appointed in the summer of 2017, with the tough task to return Inter Milan to the glory days. The first step of the plan was successful, as the side managed to finish 4th in the Serie A and qualify for this season’s UEFA Champions League.
The next stage of the club’s rebirth was to build a squad capable of competing both domestically and in Europe. For that reason, Inter was one of the most active Italian clubs on the transfer market. The team got the likes of Nainggolan, Lautaro Martinez, Sime Vrsaljko, Keita Balde, and a couple other players.
Added to the core of the side, I think Inter has a lot of potential. However, the start of the season has been rough for Spalletti and his boys. They won 4 points in the first 3 games and sit in the middle of the table.
It’s obvious that the coach and his team will need some time to find the right balance. This could prove fatal in the Champions League, as the likes of Barcelona and Tottenham are too strong anyway. I don’t think Inter has a chance to progress from this group.
The goal of the team should be to reach the 3rd place and continue in Europa League. This will provide the chance for a trophy, and combined with a top 4 finish domestically, it should be a good step forward.
Despite the somewhat juicy odds, I don’t recommend you to back Inter to progress. The side is not ready to fight the big boys in the Champions League yet, and the draw hasn’t exactly been kind to them.
If Inter was unlucky with the draw, what can we say about PSV Eindhoven? The Dutch champions will have to face the toughest group out there, and their chance of going through seems slim, to say the least.
The bookies obviously agree with me, as the price for the side to go through is 9.00. Quite generous indeed, but I don’t see any point in backing PSV Eindhoven to progress.
The team simply doesn’t have the quality or the budget of the other three teams. Despite the excellent start of the Eredivisie season, PSV can only hope to somehow beat Inter Milan for the third place in the group.
The side has some attacking potential and is scoring for fun domestically, but the level of the competition can’t compare to the opponents PSV will face in the Champions League. I do see some attractive games with the involvement of the Dutch champions, but that’s about it.
The Key Clash in the UCL Group B
Determining the key clash in this group depends on what you believe would be the biggest fight. Is it going to be between Inter and the Spurs for second, or the English side and Barcelona for first?
I would say the latter, as Inter is at least a level behind both the Spanish giants and Tottenham. Those two should be fighting for the top spot in group B, so the key clash must be the one between them.
Up to the final game, I expect both teams to have ensured their progress with close point tallies. This should make for an exciting direct clash for the first place in the group.
Group B Final Prediction and Betting Picks
I already mentioned it a couple of times, but I will say it again. Barcelona and Tottenham Hotspur are head and shoulders above the other two sides in group B of the UEFA Champions League.
The Spanish champions are the favorite for the top spot, but the price of 4.00 for the Spurs to grab that is way too high. This equals about a 25% chance of the side winning the group, which is way too low.
After all, Tottenham was in a similar situation last year, with a similar squad, and managed to win 5 games and draw once against teams like Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund. I don’t see a reason why the team won’t do it again.
I can’t wait to watch some of the games from group B of the UEFA Champions League. I think every single match here has a lot of potential, as the likes of Inter and PSV will be eager to show they can compete with the other two sides.
However, I don’t see any huge surprises at the end, unless you consider Spurs winning the group as one. What do you think about it? Do you share my expectations that Tottenham can top Barcelona? Let me know in the comments below.