Preview and Predictions for UEFA Champions League Group H
Published on September 12, 2018
A lot of eyes will be looking at group H of the UEFA Champions League for various reasons. For a start, Cristiano Ronaldo is now part of Juventus.
The club is hoping that the Portuguese forward will help the side finally win the tournament once again, after a couple of lost finals in the past 10-15 years.
Ronaldo has won the trophy 5 times already and is the all-time top scorer of the competition. I think that signing the guy is one of the best things you could do if your main target is winning the UEFA Champions League, despite his slow start in Italy.
The other favorite in group H is Manchester United, but the situation there is completely different. Jose Mourinho is in trouble, and the atmosphere around the club is pretty intense.
The performances in the Champions League will be important, as a couple of mistakes could have serious consequences.
The other two sides in this group are Valencia and Young Boys. It looks like they won’t have much of a chance, but you never know.
Let’s take a look at the different sites and what the odds are for each to progress.
I’m not surprised to see Juventus as the favorite of the bookies, both for winning the group and reaching the knockout stage of the Champions League. The club has performed well in the past decade or two.
The main problem has been the last step, as Juventus lost two finals in the last five years.
On top of that, the team consistently reaches the semifinals, so the quality is certainly there. The Italians probably need a bit more luck and composure in the decisive games. Obviously, getting Cristiano Ronaldo should help with that.
The Portuguese forward has been the top scorer in the tournament multiple times, including last season. He knows how to find the net. Some accuse him of scoring many of his goals against weaker opposition in the groups.
The truth is, he simply scores a lot against everyone, including in the key clashes of the knockout stages of the Champions League.
The good news for Juventus is that it doesn’t seem likely for someone to challenge the team in their domestic league. The likes of Inter and Milan bought some decent players, but the reigning champions are head and shoulders above everyone else.
The legendary Gianluigi Buffon is no longer there, but Juventus got Cristiano Ronaldo, Joao Cancelo, Leonardo Bonucci, and Emre Can.
The side also completed the permanent signing of Douglas Costa, after the Brazilian was on loan from Bayern Munich last season.
It’s safe to say that Juventus has one of the strongest squads in Europe. I expect the team to wipe the floor with the competition in the Serie A and focus a lot of effort in the Champions League. I don’t see how Juventus won’t qualify from this group, but the price of 1.11 is too low.
The odds of 1.53 for the Italian champion to win the group also look somewhat low, but I actually see some value there. Valencia and Young Boys are nowhere near the same quality, while Manchester United is currently struggling a lot.
I would say that Juve is the major favorite for the top spot, so the price of 1.53 is actually worth a shot.
A lot has been said about Manchester United and the disappointing summer they had. Jose Mourinho obviously wanted another central defender, and the club was linked with a bunch of top players in this position, but no one arrived at the end.
This is the reason why the Portuguese manager is obviously unhappy. According to the rumors, there is a rift between him and executive Ed Woodward. Jose denied that in his last press conference, but it doesn’t look good right now.
The pressure is building at Old Trafford, especially since the club already lost twice in the English Premier League. Mourinho seems to be unable to find a working format at the back, while many of his attacking players are underperforming.
Honestly, the situation doesn’t look good, and the only way to fix it is to get results. Fortunately for Manchester United, the draw for the group stage of the Champions League has been somewhat kind.
Sure, Juventus will be a problem, but the Red Devils should have enough to finish above Valencia and Young Boys.
Still, both sides should not be underestimated, especially considering the problems United currently has. This is the reason I have no intention of backing the side to progress. The odds of 1.36 are way too low, considering the tension surrounding the club.
Valencia did a great job qualifying for the Champions League last season. The club managed to finish 4th in the Spanish La Liga, which was enough at the end. The challenge of playing twice a week in the strongest club competition in Europe forced Valencia to invest in the squad depth.
I would say that the side did a good job, at least on paper. The likes of Goncalo Guedes, Geoffrey Kondogbia, Kevin Gameiro, Michy Batshuayi, and a couple more players were signed.
They added both quality and quantity to the squad. The manager Marcelino should be satisfied with this group of players.
And still, the start of the season so far has been disappointing. The side won only two points from the first three games and sits in 17th position. Part of that is due to the fact that both Kondogbia and Francis Coquelin are injured, which causes some issues in midfield.
Still, it’s early days, and the schedule hasn’t been kind to Valencia so far. I expect better from the team in the near future. The question is, can the Spanish side actually fight for the knockout stages of the Champions League?
I would say that Valencia could finish above Manchester United, but the price of 2.20 is way too low for my taste. I will have to pass on this one, as I think the fair price is closer to the 2.50 mark or even higher.
The last season was historical for Young Boys, as the side won its first Swiss title in 32 years. This one has started even better, as the side managed to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in its history, after dramatically beating Dinamo Zagreb in the qualifiers.
The situation is similar in the league, where Young Boys has won its first six games. The club has already opened a gap of eight points and looks like the overwhelming favorite to win another title.
Despite that, no one expects wonders from Young Boys in the Champions League, and I will have to agree with this assessment. The team might win some points at home, but finishing in one of the first two spots seems like a monumental task.
The odds reflect that, and you could get some insane prices for Young Boys to qualify. I would recommend you to pass, though, as I can’t see how the team could finish above any of the sides in this group.
The second leg of the UEFA Champions Group stage will see Manchester United host Valencia on October 2nd.
I feel that the Spanish side will have the chance to get something out of this game, which could give it a huge advantage in the fight for the next stage. A draw would be solid, but a win would mean that Valencia will be the favorite to go through.
Especially since Valencia will play Young Boys twice right after that, while Manchester United will have to cope with Juventus and Cristiano Ronaldo.
This is the reason I identify this particular match as the key clash in the group. The other game between those two is right at the end, but it could be too late for either team at that point.
I feel that Young Boys has no chance of qualifying. The team will most likely finish in last place, getting no more than 2-3 points.
Manchester United and Valencia should be in the fight for second. The Red Devils are the better team, but their internal problems give the Spaniards a chance to actually snatch the second place and move on to the UCL knockouts.
I don’t like the price for any of the teams to go through, so this leaves me with only one viable bet. Juventus has a strong squad, one of the best players in the history of the competition, and the atmosphere around the club is perfect.
This is why the price of 1.53 for Juve to win group H is good enough for me.
I think that Juventus got lucky with this group and should comfortably be at the top. I would love to see how Ronaldo does in his favorite tournament, as the start in Serie A wasn’t exactly perfect.
The Portuguese forward should feel more comfortable in the Champions League, but we’ll see about that.
Elsewhere, I’m not 100% sure that Jose Mourinho will be still managing Manchester United when the last game of the group stages comes. What do you think about that? Can the Portuguese turn it around by the end of this season and keep his job?