This week is one of the biggest weeks of the season as the Champions League kicks off in earnest with the Group Stages of the tournament getting underway. We have already had a number of preliminary and qualifying rounds completed which has seen a number of smaller teams qualify for the lucrative group stages alongside European football’s elite.

Four British teams will be battling out alongside the crème de la crème of European soccer over six Matchday’s over the coming three months to decide which two teams from each group will earn a spot in the knockout stages of the tournament in the new year. From those 16 qualifiers, one team will go on to emulate Liverpool and land the trophy later on in the year.

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Let’s now preview all the action this week in each of the eight Champions League Groups across Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. All kick off times are 8pm, unless stated.

*All odds shown are correct with bet365 Sport at 10.45am on Monday 16th September 2019.

Champions League – Tuesday 17th September

Group Ebet365-early-soccer-payout

Red Bull Salzburg v Genk

If either of these sides are going to challenge Liverpool or Napoli in Group E, then they will likely need to pick up at least four, if not six points from the two games against each other. I fancy Salzburg to get the result here as they are more experienced in Europe and have a very decent side, who will trouble the top two especially at home. (Home Win – 8/15)

Napoli v Liverpool

These two teams are the hot favourites to qualify from the group and if they perform to their best, then they should have no problems doing this. Liverpool will be happy to get their toughest game in the group out of the way early and Napoli, who beat the Reds 3-0 at Murrayfield in Edinburgh in pre-season will be confident of a positive result here. I worry about Napoli defensively in this one however and I fancy a draw will be the final outcome. (Draw – 5/2)

Group F

Inter Milan v Slavia Prague (5.55pm)

With Slavia Prague the minnows in this group, Inter Milan will know nothing less than six points against the Czech side will likely be enough to give them a chance to unseat either Dortmund or Barca from the top two spaces in this group. The Italians are an improved side on last season and they should get off to a good start here. (Home Win – 4/11)

B.Dortmund v Barcelona

What a massive game to kick off the action in Group F as Dortmund and Barcelona clash at the mighty Westfahlenstadion. The home side have had a decent start to the season, while Barcelona, by their own lofty standards, have been a little below par. However a return to form against Valencia at the weekend will put them in good spirits ahead of this game. This could be a cracker and I can see plenty of goals being scored in an entertaining draw. (Draw – 13/5)

Group G

Lyon v Zenit St Petersburg (5.55pm)

Group G is one of the most open with all four teams likely to have real hopes of qualifying for the knockout phase. Winning home games is key to that and so the pressure is on Lyon to do that against a Zenit side that are perhaps the weakest team in the group, though not by much. This will be a battle but I think Lyon will do just enough. (Home Win – 8/11)

Benfica v Red Bull Leipzig

For me, both these teams have under-achieved in Europe in recent seasons and I think both should have high hopes of qualifying from this group. Leipzig have proven tricky to beat in Europe at times, but they were poor in the Europa League last season and for me, Benfica have the quality and home advantage here, meaning they should come out as winners. (Home Win – 17/10)

Group H

Ajax v Lille

After reaching the semifinal, Ajax will have high hopes of doing equally well this year but with a number of their star men sold, they may find it tough to match that again, especially in what looks a very even group H. Lille are no pushovers and went well in Ligue 1 last season but despite that I still fancy the Dutch side to have enough to claim the victory. (Home Win – 1/2)

Chelsea v Valencia

After a stunning win over Wolves at the weekend, Chelsea will be buoyed coming into this game against a Valencia side that lost by a 5-2 scoreline to Barcelona at the weekend. Despite this, I really feel Valencia’s experience and their ability to hit Chelsea on the counter, will be productive here for the Spaniards, but I only feel it will be enough to claim a point. (Draw – 13/5)

Champions League – Wednesday 18th September

Group A

Club Brugge v Galatasaray (5.55pm)

Two teams who are realistically going for the Europa League qualification spot for the third place team in the group and a win here for either team would go a long way towards helping achieve that. Brugge are making progress as a team, but I think Galatasaray, though they don’t travel well usually have just enough quality to perhaps land a point here. (Draw – 13/5).

Paris St Germain v Real Madrid

A game that would have graced the final will be the first game in the group stage for both teams. Neither has staretd the season in a fashion they would like and each team is beset with internal strife too. However, PSG’s record at home over the years in Europe is excellent and the Real Madrid team that beat them in Paris of a few years ago was much better than this current side. As such, I think it will be the home fans happy on Wednesday in Paris. (Home Win – 6/5).

Group B

Olympiakos v Tottenham (5.55pm)

Tottenham face a tricky trip to Greece as they bid to follow Liverpool’s lead and go back to the final a year after losing it, to win it. O

lympiakos is never an easy place to go and Spurs recent away record isn’t the most convincing to be truthful. However a solid home win over Palace at the weekend should have them confident here and I think they will do just enough to claim the win. (Away Win – 5/6).

Bayern Munich v Red Star Belgrade

Bayern Munich will be seeking a strong start against a Red Star team that, while dangerous at home, looked woefully inadequate on the road in Europe last season. The Bundesliga Champions will be well aware of that here and I fancy them to get their Champions League campaign off to a very strong start with a comprehensive win in front of their own fans. (Home Win – 1/16).

Group C

Dinamo Zagreb v Atalanta

Behind Man City, the places for second spot in this group is up for grabs in my view and the team that comes out on top of the games between the three teams will likely be the qualifier. Zagreb are tough on home soil but this young Atalanta side did superbly well in Serie A last year a

nd I think they are strong enough to come away from this game with a point. (Draw – 11/5).

Shakhtar Donetsk v Manchester City

A few years ago, Donetsk beat City on home soil, but last season City recorded emphatic wins over them twice in the group stage and despite a loss at Norwich at the weekend, I think City will be in good enough form, and with enough incentive, to get their campaign this year off to a positive start with a result in Ukraine. (Away Win – 3/10).

Atletico Madrid v Juventus

The two giants of European football clash once again in the first game in Group D for both teams. They faced each other in the knockout phase last season where Juventus came back from a 2-0 first leg deficit to win 3-0 in Turin thanks to a Ronaldo hat-trick. I fancy the Italians to get something from this game but I think against an in-form Atletico side, the best that will be will be a point. (Draw – 21/10).

Bayer Leverkusen v Lokomotiv Moscow

These two teams start as the massive underdogs in Group D and in truth, Leverkusen should win this game very comfortably, as the odds suggest. Moscow don’t travel well and despite a couple of rousing results over the years, they tend to underperform in Europe. As such, I think Leverkusen will claim a win in this opening game. (Home Win – 2/5).