Preview and Predictions for UEFA Champions League Group G
Published on September 11, 2018
Group G of this year’s UEFA Champions League is one of the few that looks rather clear on paper. The current holder Real Madrid and Roma are the overwhelming favorites for a place in the knockout stage of the competition.
The other two sides are CSKA Moscow and Viktoria Plzen. Both are way behind their opponents in terms of traditions, budget, and quality of the squad.
Still, even the 3rd place in the group is important, as it provides a spot in the Europa League, so those two have everything to play for.
As always, I will be looking for the best betting opportunity out there, so let’s explore the odds and the condition of each club before the Champions League has started.
It’s safe to say that the bookies expect Real Madrid to go through, and, most likely, win group G of the UEFA Champions League. I guess that’s only natural when we’re talking about a club that has won the trophy in each of the past 3 years.
I completely agree with the fact that the Spanish side should have no issues in the group stage, but I’m not sure if it will be capable of defending the trophy once again. There are simply too many changes this season.
I have to start with Cristiano Ronaldo and his move to Juventus. For years, the Portuguese forward has been Real Madrid’s main man.
The whole system was built to accommodate him, and that’s hardly a surprise. Ronaldo is a generational talent that managed to score at least 40 goals in each season, bar his first year in Madrid.
Of course, time doesn’t spare anyone. Cristiano is still in exceptional form, but it is inevitable that he will start declining. From this point of view, I feel that selling him was the right move. Real Madrid managed to get a lot of cash for the forward.
Other than the financial benefits, this gives players like Gareth Bale, Isco, and Marco Asensio more room to develop. In a way, their potential was somewhat limited while Ronaldo was there.
The man that will have to find the best way to change the whole system of Real Madrid is Julen Lopetegui. I like the new head coach, and I think he is the right man for the job.
The specialist will manage to build a formidable team that doesn’t rely on one man, as was the case in the past decade or so.
The question is if he will be given the time to succeed. If the board and the fans expect a trophy at all cost in his first season, this could be an issue. I think the transition in Madrid will take some time, probably at least a year, but the club is hardly notorious for its patience.
Still, Real Madrid has more than enough quality to ease through the group stage. I’m not 100% sure that the side is that big of a favorite for the first place, though. It will probably come down to the direct matches against Roma, and the Italian side is no joke.
Roma was absolutely sensational in the 2017-2018 UEFA Champions League season, reaching the last 4 and completing one of the most incredible comebacks in the history of the competition.
The Italians were 4-1 down after the first leg against Barcelona but managed to win 3-0 at home, dumping Messi and co.
They showed their spirit against Liverpool in the semis as well, almost coming out of an impossible situation, only to lose 7-6 on aggregate at the end.
A quick look at the side’s performance in the group stages is also impressive. Roma managed to win a group that included the teams of Chelsea and Atletico Madrid. If you think that the team will bow down to Real Madrid just like that, you are certainly mistaken.
The problem is that the squad had plenty of changes in the summer. Roma lost its goalkeeper Alisson to Liverpool, fan favorite Radja Nainggolan, Kevin Strootman, and a couple of other players.
On the positive side, most of the departures were directly replaced. The likes Steven Nzonzi, Javier Pastore, Justin Kluivert, and a bunch of other promising players joined the team. They will certainly need time to settle, and Roma might be in trouble at the start of the season.
Still, I don’t think that the team will have any problems qualifying for the next stage. In fact, Roma could challenge Real Madrid for the first place in the group as the current Champions League holders go through a transitional period themselves.
The Russian side CSKA Moscow had a solid season in the 2017-2018 campaign. The side finished second in the domestic league and won 9 points in the group stage of the UEFA Champions League.
It was a more than respectable tally, but good enough only for 3rd and a place in the Europa League.
The team will be hoping for a similar performance this season, but two of their best players are now gone. After his impressive World Cup, Aleksandr Golovin was the target of many teams, and many believed he would join Chelsea.
At the end of the day, the young star snubbed the English side and went to Monaco.
CSKA also lost the Brazilian striker Vitinho, and I don’t think the incoming players will manage to replace those two. The issues up front are evident, as the team has only managed to score 9 goals in 6 games in the Russian league so far.
I expect more of the same in the Champions League, which is the reason I can’t see CSKA Moscow challenging either Roma or Real Madrid for a place in the knockout stage of the tournament.
Still, the side has a decent defense, and it’s always hard to play in Moscow, so I feel that CSKA will manage to finish third and continue its campaign in the Europa League.
No one expects wonders from Viktoria Plzen, especially considering the draw. The side’s budget wouldn’t be enough to cover the wages of some of the top players of Real Madrid, which says enough.
The Czech champion will be happy to be part of the group stage and meet such giants of European soccer. I don’t think anyone expects miracles, and the realistic target would be to try and finish above CSKA Moscow.
I’m not sure if Viktoria can do that, though. The Russians seem like the stronger team and are a regular participant in the group stages of the Champions League. Both the quality of their squad and their experience at such a level should be enough to finish above the Czech side.
Despite the insane odds, I simply don’t see a reason to back Viktoria Plzen. The side has no chance of reaching the knockouts of the 2018-2019 Champions League.
I think that Real Madrid and Roma will certainly finish in the first two positions. Both are just too strong for CSKA Moscow and Viktoria Plzen.
The big question is if Roma will be able to challenge the current champions for the first spot in the group.
Real Madrid will host Roma on September 19th. The Italians have nothing to lose in this game. If they take a point or three, they will be the favorite for the first spot.
If they lose, they still have the game at home later on. The pressure will be on Real Madrid, and this is my key clash from group G of the UEFA Champions League.
No disrespect to CSKA Moscow and Viktoria Plzen, but those two are out of the equation, in my opinion. Real Madrid and Roma are simply too strong.
The bookies also believe that the Spanish giant is the overwhelming favorite to win group G, and the price for Roma is as high as 5.00 at the best soccer betting sites.
Considering the fact that the Italians finished ahead of Chelsea and Atletico Madrid last year, while Real Madrid was behind Tottenham in the group stage, I think it won’t be such a huge shock if Roma actually wins this group. It’s a bit of a long shot, but the price of 5.00 makes it a worthy one.
After all, Real Madrid will be trying to find a way to move on without Cristiano Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane. This could take some time, and Roma has the means to take full advantage of any potential slip-ups.
I’m looking forward to the matches from this group, as I believe the clashes between Roma and Real Madrid could be among the most entertaining of the UEFA Champions League group stage.
Those two should have no trouble going through to the next stage and very well could be involved in the fight for the trophy.
What do you think about that? Can Real Madrid complete the unthinkable and actually win the Champions League for a fourth time in a row?