After a break of a few weeks, which saw the players jet off around the world to represent their countries in World Cup qualifiers, the 2021/22 Champions League returns this week. We are now at game week 5, which means that some teams have already qualified, such as Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Juventus. However, in many groups, there are 3, if not 4 teams who will still hold aspirations of making it into the knockout stages, and will be wanting to confirm their places with a win in this next round of fixtures.
If we look at Group B, Real Madrid look most likely to finish on top, given they have won 3 times. However, they did manage to lose to Sheriff in front of their home fans at the Bernabeu. Game week 5 sees them travel to Moldova, where you imagine Sheriff and their supporters will create a huge atmosphere, which could intimidate the Madrid players. Of course, as 13 times winners, Real will be the odds on favourites with most sportsbooks, but we wouldn’t be overly shocked to see Sheriff pull off a surprise win here.
If that does occur, and then Inter Milan beat Shakhtar Donetsk (which appears likely as they have lost 3 of their 4 Champions League games) it would set the group up nicely, with the Italian side on 10 points, and the Spanish giants and Moldovan champions on 9 points. As Inter and Madrid then face each other in the final match, it could see one of them missing out on the knockout stage, which would really upset the betting odds that were set when the groups were drawn earlier in the season. Speaking of which the odds at the top sportsbooks are currently at -323 on Inter Milan and +1000 on FC Shakhtar, while Real Madrid at -1430 and FC Sheriff at +3500, clearly showing who are the favorites to take the wins.
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Group A is another intriguing one, as it contains 2 of the giants of European football, Manchester City and Paris Saint Germain. However, Club Brugge are still in with a shout of qualifying. Let’s take a closer look at the results so far in this group, and preview the 2 remaining game weeks in Group A of this season’s Champions League.
City look the strongest, PSG not far behind
Before a ball was kicked in this year’s Champions League, the sports betting sites had Man City and PSG as clear favourites to progress, even if the odds couldn’t agree on who would win the group. So far, City have come out on top in the majority of their games winning 3 out of 4
They started off with a win, thumping Red Bull Leipzig 6-3. They then beat Club Brugge home and away, 5-1 in Bruges and 4-1 back in Manchester. However, the one poor result came against Paris, at the Parc des Princes. Despite playing well, they were beaten 2-0, with Lionel Messi scoring his first goal for his new side, following his move from Barcelona.
So, how come PSG aren’t top? That can be explained by their results away from home. In game week 1, they could only draw 2-2 against Club Brugge at the Jan Breydel Stadium, whilst they also failed to win in Leipzig, letting a 2 goal lead slip at the Red Bull Arena. They did manage to beat Leipzig 3-2 at home, which did help their cause for qualification.
Meanwhile, in the fixture between the teams from Belgium and Germany, it was Brugge who came out on top, as they won 2-1 in Leipzig.
So, who will top the group?
In reality, it all should be determined by the upcoming fixture between Man City and PSG, which is taking place in game week 5. It is being held at the Etihad Arena in Manchester, so you would expect Pep Guardiola’s side to come out on top, especially given PSG’s poor away form in this year’s Champions League so far. However, the talent at PSG’s disposal is superior to City’s, and their form in Ligue 1 should be cause for concern for the men from Manchester.
What happens if it is a draw? Then this really opens the door for Club Brugge. If they win they’ll be up to 7 points, with City on 10 and PSG on 9. That means that if the Belgians can then somehow pull off a shock result in Paris, they would qualify at their expense.
The odds and betting markets make this seem very unlikely, but stranger things certainly have happened in the Champions League.