UEFA Champions League Tips - Best bets for Matchday 1

  • Predictions for the opening round of games

The 2018/19 UEFA Champions League returns as Real Madrid begin the defence of the title and we've picked out the best bets for Matchday 1.

Real Madrid face Roma in their opener, while other big games see Liverpool take on Paris Saint-Germain, Inter Milan and Tottenham clash and Valencia host Juventus.

We round up the best bets to be backing:

Barcelona v PSV Eindhoven

Barcelona’s flawless start to the season continued on Saturday as they made it five straight wins in all competitions. For the second match running Barcelona were forced to come from behind to win as they beat Real Sociedad at the weekend, and they will be eager to ensure there are no early slip-ups in their opening group match of the Champions League on Tuesday night. PSV Eindhoven are the visitors to the Camp Nou and they arrive in fantastic form having won six straight games in all competitions. Last weekend’s 6-1 rout of Willem II saw the goals continue to flow for Mark van Bommel’s side, but can we really expect them to shoot down one of the giants of world football on their own patch? The answer to that has to be ‘no’, but given their fine scoring form right now – 20 goals in their last six games – and Barcelona’s failure to keep a clean sheet in three of their five matches so far, I would not be shocked to see PSV grab a consolation goal in a losing effort.

Inter Milan v Tottenham

This may only be Matchday 1, but this has to be considered a massive game for both of these clubs. Having been drawn alongside Barcelona in Group B it is highly likely that only one of these teams will progress to the knockout stage, so who will gain an early advantage in the race to reach the last-16? Spurs made a flying start to the season as they won their first three games and ended an Old Trafford hoodoo with a fine 3-0 win over Manchester United, but since that night their form has dipped and they go into this match on the back of defeats to Watford and Liverpool. Therefore the good news for them is that Inter Milan have hardly raced out of the blocks – they have won just one of their first four games in Serie A and have lost twice. At home they have drawn with Torino and been beaten by Parma, so Spurs must fancy their chances of leaving Milan with something to show for their efforts. Had Mauricio Pochettino’s side been in better form I may have backed them to win here, but after back-to-back defeats they would probably welcome a draw on Tuesday night and after seeing them hold Real Madrid and Juventus on their travels last season, I like their chances of claiming a share of the spoils.

Liverpool v Paris Saint-Germain

If this week’s Champions League schedule was a boxing card then this match would undoubtedly be the headline attraction, and it would be a showdown between two big-hitters throwing caution to the wind. Liverpool have improved defensively over the course of this year, but when it comes to the Reds it is all about that all-star attacking line-up of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane. Not many teams can match or better that sort of firepower, but on Tuesday night they will face one of them because the visitors to Anfield will be Paris St Germain. PSG, of course, boast the attacking talents of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani, so this is a mouth-watering match-up that will almost certainly produce goals. The big question is, who will score more? Writing the visitors off would be a very silly, but on several occasions we have seen them come up short when visiting some of Europe’s biggest clubs, and if they are the sort of team to freeze under the brightest of lights and in front of the most partisan of crowds, the last place they should be going is Anfield. I am backing The Kop to roar Liverpool on to another famous victory that gives them the perfect start in their quest to return to the Champions League Final. 

Benfica v Bayern Munich

Bayern Munich’s flawless start to their 2018/19 season continued with a 3-1 win at home to Bayer Leverkusen at the weekend, and they will not look to transfer that fine form over to the European scene as they begin their quest to win the Champions League for the first time since 2013. First up for the Bundesliga giants is a trip to Portugal to face Benfica. The hosts have opened up with a nine-match unbeaten run in all competitions and they go into Wednesday night’s tie in good shape thanks to a run of three straight victories. But as good as their form has been to start the season it is hard to have much confidence in them here. Why? Because their Champions League record leaves a lot to be desired. They may have successfully negotiated a couple of qualifying rounds this season, but last season they lost all six of their matches in the group stage, scoring just once, and they were hardly drawn in some sort of ‘Group of Death’. Bayern Munich should have far too much for their hosts here and I expect them to win a match that sees at least three goals – Over 2.5 Total Goals has been a winning bet on four of Bayern Munich’s five competitive games so far this season and Benfica have managed to score in all nine of their competitive fixtures to date. 

Real Madrid v Roma

Real Madrid have been the dominant force on the European scene in recent years, winning three of the last four Champions League Finals. They made history back in June when they beat Liverpool 3-1 to become the first team to go three-in-a-row in Europe’s premier club competition, but can they rewrite the history books once again this by winning the Champions League for the fourth straight time? The summer sale of Cristiano Ronaldo has resulted in the bookmakers having some doubts about their chances, but they have made a strong start to their domestic campaign by going four matches unbeaten and they will now look to make it five without loss in all competitions by beating a Roma side that made it all the way to the semi-finals of the Champions League last season. That was a fantastic run for the Italian side, but they are not expected to make a similar impression this time around and have won just one of their first three domestic fixtures to leave themselves already playing catch-up in Serie A. They desperately need to improve their form quickly but I do not see them sparking an upturn in fortunes with a positive result at the Bernabeu. Real Madrid should win this match, although I would not be shocked to see Roma score. They have netted five goals in their first three competitive fixtures of the season and Real have hardly been racking up clean sheets.

Young Boys v Manchester United

Back-to-back away wins against Burnley and Watford have kick-started Manchester United’s season and eased some of the pressure on Jose Mourinho, but until they start delivering top-drawer performances and results there will continue to be a bleak cloud hanging over the Red Devils. A big European away win on Wednesday night would certainly help their cause, but it remains difficult to have much confidence in them. Their performances and results on their Champions League travels last season do little to inspire confidence, and Switzerland has hardly been a happy hunting ground for them in recent years – they have lost in both of their last two games on Swiss soil. So can Manchester United turn that around and beat Young Boys here? They are the favourites with the bookmakers, but Young Boys are in confident mood thanks to a 10-match unbeaten run featuring nine victories and it would not be a total shocker if United did trip up here. That is why I am avoiding the match betting market and backing this to be a low-scoring game – three of United’s four European away days last season produced less than three goals and another dire, unentertaining, low-scoring clash could be on the cards here.

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UEFA Champions League Tips - Best bets for Matchday 1

The 2018/19 UEFA Champions League returns as Real Madrid begin the defence of the title and we've picked out the best bets for Matchday 1.

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