It doesn’t seem that long ago that Chelsea were lifting the Champions League trophy after their narrow 1-0 win over Manchester City in the final. However, we are now at the stage where the big boys enter the tournament as the Champions League Group Stage starts this week.

32 teams will compete across eight groups and six matchdays to decide which of the top two teams in each group qualify for the knockout phase of the tournament in the New Year.

Of course, the start of the biggest and most prestigious club tournament in Europe is always a big incentive for people to go out and have a bet. If that is you then remember you can sign up with your bet365 poker bonus code and still access the bet365 Sports site from that log in.

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Let’s now begin by looking at the games coming up this week, before we preview each of the eight groups, giving you our take on who we think will qualify from each.

Champions League Matchday 1

Tuesday 14th September

  • Sevilla v FC Salzburg (5.45pm)
  • Young Boys v Manchester United (5.45pm)
  • Barcelona v Bayern Munich
  • Chelsea v Zenit St Petersburg
  • Dynamo Kyiv v Benfica
  • Lille v Wolfsburg
  • Malmo v Juventus
  • Villarreal v Atalanta

Wednesday 15th September

  • Besiktas v Borussia Dortmund (5.45pm)
  • Sheriff Tiraspol v Shakhtar Donetsk (5.45pm)
  • Atletico Madrid v FC Porto
  • Club Brugge v Paris St Germain
  • Inter Milan v Real Madrid
  • Liverpool v AC Milan
  • Manchester City v Red Bull Leipzig
  • Sporting Lisbon v Ajax Amsterdam

It will be interesting to see how each of the games go in the Champions League this week, but for this article we are going to focus on which teams we think will qualify from each of the eight groups, details of which are shown below.

Champions League Groups

All the odds shown below are for each team to qualify from their group in the top two positions and were correct with bet365 Sport as of 1pm on Monday 13th September.

Group A

  • Club Brugge -12/1
  • Manchester City – 1/8
  • Paris St Germain – 1/7
  • Red Bull Leipzig – 2/1

Picking who will come through Group A is very easy. Paris St Germain, with their huge investment in a number of players over the summer to add to an already incredible squad, and Manchester City, who have also invested plenty of cash over the years, should be the teams that qualify easily from the group.

The odds suggest that it will be a closely fought contest between the two, but I feel City’s lack of a main striker, especially in these types of games, will be crucial and as such, I feel Paris may be the team that tops the group.

I can’t see Red Bull Leipzig doing any better than third place in the group, while Club Brugge will end up fourth and may not even pick up a point against their illustrious opponents.

Group A Qualifiers – 1. PSG, 2. Man City. (3. Red Bull Leipzig, 4. Club Brugge)

Group B

  • AC Milan – 11/8
  • Atletico Madrid – 4/9
  • FC Porto – 12/5
  • Liverpool – 1/4

If Group A is easy to predict, Group B is anything but and you can make a strong case for any of the four teams to qualify, and even win the group. Atletico Madrid and Liverpool start as the favourites to qualify from the group, but you cannot rule out AC Milan and Porto could throw a spanner in the works as they are not going to be easy to beat at home.

To qualify from this group, I feel a team has to win at least two home games, draw the other and then pick up a win away from home. Something that is not beyond any of the teams in this group, but given how the teams have performed over the years, I think Atletico Madrid and Liverpool are the most likely.

The key games to decide this group will be between Milan, Madrid and Liverpool and while FC Porto will probably have a role to play in deciding who goes through, I don’t think the Portuguese side will make it in this elite company.

Group B Qualifiers – 1. Liverpool, 2. Atletico Madrid, (3. AC Milan, 4. FC Porto)

Group C

  • Ajax – 4/6
  • Besiktas – 5/2
  • Borussia Dortmund – 1/6
  • Sporting Lisbon – 11/10

Group C should be a relatively comfortable one for Borussia Dortmund as I think Erling Haaland and company should secure enough points to win this group relatively comfortably. I think they are the strongest and most consistent team out of the four.

However, the battle for second spot in the group should be interesting. I’ve backed Ajax to land it just ahead of Besiktas and Sporting Lisbon, simply because the young Dutch side have experience in this competition and Europe more than the other two teams.

It will be a tough battle between Lisbon, Besiktas and Ajax for that second spot in the table, but I think the Dutch side will do just enough in the key games against those two opponents in order to secure second spot.

Group C Qualifiers – 1. Borussia Dortmund, 2. Ajax, (3. Sporting Lisbon, 4. Besiktas)

Group D

  • Shakhtar Donetsk – 7/4
  • Sheriff Tiraspol – 10/1
  • Inter Milan – 1/4
  • Real Madrid – 1/33

If this group has a somewhat familiar look to you, that will be because last year, Inter, Real Madrid and Shakhtar Donetsk were also drawn into the same group. This year, the trio have been pitted with Sheriff Tiraspol in their first ever Champions League Group Stage campaign and they are comfortably the weakest team in the group.

So if Tiraspol are dead certs to finish bottom of the group, who finishes top? Well Real Madrid are the obvious pick after a solid start to the season and reaching the semifinals last year. I can’t see either of the other teams toppling the Spaniards.

As for who joins them in the next round, I do think Shakhtar can cause Inter a few problems, but I think the Italian side will do just enough to make it through ahead of the Ukrainian side but it won’t be plain sailing for them.

Group D Qualifiers – 1. Real Madrid, 2. Inter (3. Shakhtar Donetsk, 4. Sheriff Tiraspol)

Group E

  • Bayern Munich – 1/8
  • Benfica – 2/1
  • Barcelona – 1/4
  • Dynamo Kyiv – 8/1

Three of the biggest names in this competitions history have been drawn together in Group E and it should be a fascinating contest between them and Dynamo Kyiv. Bayern Munich for me are the class act in this group and I can see the German side winning this group relatively comfortably.

The reason I say that is because I don’t feel this Barcelona team is anywhere near the standard of teams of previous years and with so many off the field issues, I think they won’t be able to match Bayern and may have a real battle with Benfica for the second qualifying spot.

I do feel Barcelona will finish second, just ahead of Benfica with Kyiv in fourth but it will be a lot closer than many people feel.

Group E Qualifiers – 1. Bayern Munich, 2. Barcelona (3. Benfica, 4. Dynamo Kyiv)

Group F

  • Atalanta – 2/5
  • Manchester United – 1/4
  • Villarreal – Evens
  • Young Boys – 8/1

Manchester United fans were happy when the draw was made, despite being drawn with the team that beat them in the Europa League final last season in Villarreal, and an exciting Italian side in Atalanta.

Young Boys are also not too bad a team and I do think there will be some twists and turns in this group, but I feel with the signings that they have made this summer, Manchester United will top the group relatively comfortably.

Who finishes second is more interesting and I think it will be between Atalanta and Villarreal and I think it may well be the Spaniards who do enough to finish just ahead of the Italian side with Young Boys in bottom spot.

Group F Qualifiers – 1. Manchester United, 2. Villarreal, 3. Atalanta, 4. Young Boys

Group G

  • FC Salzburg – 7/4
  • Lille – 11/10
  • Sevilla – 2/5
  • Wolfsburg – 4/5

Group G may be the softest group in terms of the quality of teams in it, but that doesn’t mean it will not be competitive and while I think Sevilla will win the group, I think we may head into the final games with at least three teams in with a chance of qualifying, if not all four.

I’ve backed Sevilla to win the group based on their quality and performances in Europe in recent times. I think they will just edge out Wolfsburg who will in turn finish just a couple of points ahead of Lille and Salzburg.

This could be the tightest group in the competition though and I don’t think anything will be resolved for certain until the last of the six matches have been completed.

Group G Qualifiers – 1. Sevilla, 2. Wolfsburg, 3. Lille, 4. FC Salzburg

Group H

  • Chelsea – 1/12
  • Juventus – 2/7
  • Malmo – 11/2
  • Zenit St Petersburg – 7/4

Chelsea may well have been the surprise winners of the Champions League last season but they won’t be a surprise package anymore. They are strong favourites to win this group and I have to say that I agree with that when looking at their opponents.

Juventus will be their most dangerous rivals, but the Italian side are not a patch on the Juventus team of a few years ago and while they will likely give Chelsea a game in Italy, I can’t see them picking anything up from their trip to London.

Zenit will be a distant third behind the top two I feel, with Malmo fourth in what should be a relatively comfortable group for the top two teams to qualify from.

Group H Qualifiers – 1. Chelsea, 2. Juventus, 3. Zenit St Petersburg, 4. Malmo