What Are The Group Stages In The World Cup UEFA Champions League Group Stage

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UEFA Champions League Group Stage

The summer is over. That only means one thing: the Champions League is back. This year’s joint favourites, Barcelona and Chelsea, have become bitter rivals in this competition. That rivalry is sure to intensify since they have been drawn in the same group at this early stage of the tournament. The format is as follows: 32 teams compete in the group stage, divided into eight groups of four. The group winners and runners-up progress to the knockout stages, the eight third-placed teams advance to the third round of the UEFA Cup, and the eight teams in the fourth place are eliminated. Here’s an overview of all the groups with predictions on who we expect to win each group.

Group A: Barcelona (-118), Chelsea (+125), Werder Bremen (15/1), Levski Sofia (250/1)

The Chelsea-Barcelona rivalry may not be as intense at this early stage. Both teams will progress from this group and there is a good chance they will meet again later in this competition. Chelsea look shakier this year. Their previously impenetrable defense looks a little more lax. That will bode ill for the Blues. But unlike the last few years, with two Premier League titles under their belt, Jose Mourinho’s specific aim this season is to win the Champions League. Still, we have to side with Barcelona here. They are goal-scoring machines and should topple Bremen and Levski, and are more than capable of scoring against Chelsea. Close to even money, it’s worth backing them to win this group.

Group B: Bayern Munich (+125), Inter Milan (+163), Sporting Lisbon (6/1), Spartak Moscow (40/1)

Inter are a big price here and worth backing. They have added strength, quality and depth to their squad and after the Calciopoli scandal was delayed, they were awarded the Scudetto last year in Serie A. There is one small concern though. Bayern Munich are the type of team that can run up the score against weak opponents like Spartak Moscow. If Bayern and Inter are level on points, Bayern could win this group on goal difference.

Group C: Liverpool (-161), PSV Eindhoven (+450), Bordeaux (5/1), Galatasaray (10/1)

Even though they are odds-on, it is hard to look past Liverpool in this group. They are an organized team and they lifted the CL trophy two years ago. Manager Rafa Benitez is experienced in European competition and should steer his team through this group with ease. PSV are a shadow of the team they were last season. There’s a good chance they won’t finish in the top two of the Dutch league, let alone repeat their above-average form in the Champions League in recent years. Bordeaux and Galatasaray are second-tier clubs in this competition.

Group D: Valencia (-125), Roma (+150), Shakhtar Donetsk (20/1), Olympiakos (29/1)

It is difficult to understand why Roma are underdogs in this group. They are favored to win the diluted Italian league this year. Their squad is much stronger this season on paper and judging by their Serie A results so far. But the Romans face tough Spanish competition in this group. Valencia have a disciplined and experienced Champions League team. They are deadly on the counterattack and stifle the offense of their opponents. This looks like a coin flip between Roma and Valencia, so we’ll take the Italians at odds. Keep an eye on Olympiakos. They won’t win this group, but, like many Greek teams, they can be dangerous in their home games.

Group E: Lyon (-125), Real Madrid (+163), Steaua Bucharest (10/1), Dynamo Kiev (50/1)

The fall of Juventus has benefited no team more than Real Madrid. The Spanish giants picked up a handful more Galacticos and one of the world’s top managers, Fabio Capello. They are serious contenders for the La Liga and Champions League titles this year. But they will have to get past their nemesis in this tournament: Lyon. The French side are continually underestimated by the bookies despite excelling in European competition. I’d happily go back again to win this group and possibly the whole thing.

Group F: Manchester United (-275), Benfica (+650), Celtic (13/1), FC Copenhagen (50/1)

Man Utd could not have asked for a more favorable draw. But luck is what they will need to go further than this stage. At this short price, it’s not worth betting on the Red Devils to win the group. Copenhagen are a dangerous team, having knocked Ajax out of this competition. They are a huge price to win the group and worth a punt. Benfica are as solid as ever in Portugal and experienced in the Champions League. They should claim second place.

Group G: Arsenal (-161), Hamburg (9/1), Porto (9/1), CSKA Moscow (10/1)

Arsenal were the surprise team of last year’s Champions League, going all the way to the final and defying expectations with every game. This year, they seem to have been overestimated. The Gunners are yet to settle into their new Emirates Stadium. The squad looks very uncomfortable and will take more time to exploit. In light of the above, it is worth looking at the others. CSKA are a huge price at 10/1 and the 2005 UEFA Cup champions must be backed to win this group. Russia is a scary place for visiting teams and the Muscovites are more than capable of claiming the results of their travels.

Group H: AC Milan (-333), Lille (6/1), AEK Athens (25/1), Anderlecht (33/1)

Milan should cruise through this group with relative ease. They can dismantle almost any team in the world and opponents like Lille, AEK and Anderlecht are hardly dangerous challengers. Lille are solid in France and could hold Milan to a draw in their home leg. As usual, Greek side AEK will be difficult at home too, but they are desperate on their travels. Anderlecht do not deserve to be in this competition. Even at this short price, take Milan.

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