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Preview and Predictions for UEFA Champions League F

| September 10, 2018 12:00 am PDT
Champions League Group F

Manchester City has been investing loads of cash for years, without actually looking like a threat in the UEFA Champions League. This has changed since the arrival of Pep Guardiola. The side is now considered as one of the strongest in Europe and a real contender for the trophy.

This is the reason Manchester City is the heavy favorite to win group F of the UCL. None among Lyon, Shakhtar Donetsk, and Hoffenheim seem capable of finishing above the English champions.

The gap in the quality of the squads is stunning.

Still, none of those teams should lose hope for going forward. The second spot looks wide open right now, and I expect a tough fight until the very end.

Let’s take a deeper look at each team and the odds provided by our trusted soccer betting sites.

Manchester City

To Win Group F1.18
To Advance from the Group Stage1.02

I feel disgusted by the price of 1.02 for Manchester City to go through, but I can see where it is coming from. The club has been investing heavily for years now, and it has one of the best 25-man squads in the world, if not the best.

There is a mix of youth and experience, flair and grit, attack and defense. Pep Guardiola needed some time to build the necessary cohesion, but Manchester City was unstoppable in the Premier League last season.

The team broke all sorts of records for most wins, consecutive wins, most points, biggest difference to the second place, and so on. It was a mesmerizing performance that left the neutral supporters stunned by the quality of this team.

It was a different story in the UEFA Champions League, though. Guardiola and his boys were dumped by Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool. The German is Pep’s kryptonite and one of the few managers with a positive record against the Spaniard.

To be fair, there were a couple of controversial decisions that went Liverpool’s way which helped their cause.

I’m quite certain that Manchester City’s main ambition this year is to win the Champions League. The club hasn’t done it before, and Guardiola himself has been struggling to get this trophy ever since leaving Barcelona.

This is why I expect the English champions to be fully focused on this competition. They have the means to make a deep run, and with a pinch of luck, to win it at the end.

It all starts in the group stages, though, and I think Manchester City got lucky with the draw. While each of the teams in group F is at least decent, none comes close to the strength in depth and quality available to Pep Guardiola.

His side should easily win the group, but the odds are way too low for me to pick Manchester City.

Olympique Lyon

To Win Group F9.00
To Advance from the Group Stage2.20

Lyon will be hoping to build on the solid 2017-2018 season, which saw the side finish 3rd in Ligue 1 and reach the last 16 of the Europa League.

The summer was a step in the right direction, as Lyon managed to keep Nabil Fekir and Memphis Depay, their two main attacking players. The only notable departure was the return of Mariano to Real Madrid, but Lyon bought Moussa Dembele as a direct replacement.

The other summer business included mostly young players in both directions. I don’t think they will have a significant impact on this season, so I won’t go into details there.

One of the big questions is if the side has the squad depth to truly compete on two fronts. Lyon is already struggling in Ligue 1 after a shaky start. As soon as the team starts playing twice a week, this could lead to some major issues.

Despite that, I feel that players like Fekir, Depay, and Dembele will be eager to impress in the Champions League. This is the reason why the price of 2.20 for Lyon to win a spot in the knockouts should at least be considered.

Shakhtar Donetsk

To Win Group F11.00
To Advance from the Group Stage3.00

This is the second time in a row that Shakhtar Donetsk has been in the same UEFA Champions League group as Manchester City. This worked fine last season, as the Ukrainian side finished second with ease and even won its home game against the English side.

In fact, Shakhtar’s home record was the focal point of the team’s success in 2017-2018. Shakhtar won every possible domestic trophy, including the Ukrainian league, Cup, and Super Cup.

On top of that, the side reached the last 16 in the Champions League. The whole atmosphere around the club is fantastic, and everyone expects more of the same.

The start of this campaign has been good, as Shakhtar is once again leading the Ukrainian league after the first 7 games.

This will allow the side to focus on the Champions League and fight for a spot in the knockouts. The task seems tough on paper, but Shakhtar coped with ease in a similar situation last season.

The club relies heavily on its scouting network in Brazil, and this summer was not an exception. A bunch of promising young players from South America arrived, and I’m pretty sure at least one or two of them will make it to the top European level.

There are many examples of that from the past. The last one is Fred, who joined Manchester United this summer, and this is my only concern. If Shakhtar Donetsk can replace the Brazilian midfielder, the team has a strong chance of reaching the next stage of the Champions League.

Considering the price of 3.00, this looks like the best bet in this group F so far.

Hoffenheim

To Win Group F17.00
To Advance from the Group Stage3.20

Hoffenheim is one of the teams you simply can’t hate. The side plays an attractive brand of soccer and doesn’t rely on some expensive players. On top of that, the coach, Julian Nagelsmann, is one of the most promising young specialists in Europe.

He led the team to a respectable 3rd place in the German Bundesliga last season, but Hoffenheim didn’t manage to shine in the European competitions. The lack of experience and squad depth was the main reason, and I can see the same issues this year, too.

Hoffenheim simply doesn’t have the budget to compete at such a level, and this was evident this summer. The team lost its goalscorer Mark Uth on a free transfer and failed to permanently sign any big names.

The likes of Kasim Adams, Leonardo Bittencourt, Vincenzo Grifo, and Ishak Belfodil might provide some additional depth, but I’m not sure how good they are quality-wise. Still, there is one player that might impact Hoffenheim’s season.

The club managed to get the Arsenal youngster Reiss Nelson on loan. I have been following him for a couple of years now, and I feel the lad has a bright future. This deal provides him the opportunity to show the world how good he actually is.

It was a smart deal for all sides involved. Nelson has the chance to prove himself, which will benefit Hoffenheim in the short term and Arsenal in the long term.

Still, I don’t think Hoffenheim will be able to qualify for the next stage of the Champions League. The price of 3.20 seems tempting, but you could get the more experience Shakhtar at a similar level.

The Key Clash in the UCL Group F

It seems like we will have a 3-way battle for second between Lyon, Shakhtar, and Hoffenheim. I feel the Germans will come up short because Lyon simply is a better team, while Shakhtar has loads of experience and will be able to focus on the UCL because of the weaker domestic competition.

BOTH of the games between Lyon and Shakhtar could be key to Group F of the UEFA Champions League.

Lyon will host Shakhtar in the second round, which would be important, but the sides will meet again in the last matchday, this time in Ukraine. I feel that it all could easily depend on this match at the end.

Group F Final Prediction and Betting Picks

I can’t see beyond Manchester City when it comes to the winner of this group F. The side is way too strong and one of the main contenders to win the Champions League altogether.

I don’t think any of the other teams have a chance to collect more points than Guardiola and his boys.

Since the odds for that to happen are a complete joke, I will focus on the second place. All of the other three teams have a shot, but I feel that Shakhtar has a better chance than the odds of 3.00 suggest. The Ukrainians were exceptional in a similar situation last year.

On top of that, I feel that both Lyon and Hoffenheim will struggle to stay consistent because of the stronger competition in their domestic leagues. Shakhtar Donetsk doesn’t have the same problem, which is another huge advantage.

PICKShakhtar Donetsk to Qualify for the Next Round3.00

Final Words

This group should be exciting, as I feel all of the teams have the potential to entertain the soccer world. We all know what Manchester City can do, but Lyon, Hoffenheim, and Shakhtar have their own exciting players up front.

What do you expect from group F of the 2018-2019 UEFA Champions League? Will Manchester City win it as easily as everyone believes? Which of the other teams is best equipped to join the English champions in the next stage?

Jerry Summer

Jerry Summer has a wide-ranging interest in gambling and the gambling industry. He's made a living out of both playing poker and betting on sports.

The English Premier League and the NBA are among Jerry's primary areas of expertise. He's knowledgeable about many other sports, too, along with poker and several casino games.

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