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Monday, 10 December, 2018

Napoli appeal to many bookmakers as dark horses

What the odds-compilers think will happen in Europe

Napol;i celebrate a goal against Bologna this month
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Who wins the Champions League?

Steve Freeth bet365 The double-figure prices have been gobbled up but it’s PSG for me. Their front three of Mbappe, Neymar and Cavani are off and running at home.

Karl Elworthy BetBright PSG have spent massively but, Real Madrid are still the team to beat. Ronaldo is not slowing down while Asensio and others are emerging stars.

Ian Griffin Betfair Sportsbook Real Madrid demolished Barcelona over two legs in the Spanish Super Cup and look to have the best squad in the tournament by a distance. 

Nik Jenkins Betfred Real Madrid still have the strongest squad, although they have stuttered slightly in the league. They can get stronger as the season progresses.

Alan Alger Betway We haven’t had a surprise winner of the tournament for a few years and, while it’s a boring answer, I’ll go for Real Madrid or Bayern Munich. 

Gerry Markey BoyleSports PSG. Some 10-1 was available even after the Neymar signing but the current price remains value. The Champions League will be given top priority.

Chris Wood Coral Bayern Munich are the team for me this time. They’ve lost a couple of stalwarts but have signed intelligently and added a wildcard in James Rodriguez. 

Martin Ramshaw William Hill Manchester City. It has taken a long time for Guardiola to get his radical tactics across but it is steadily happening and they have strengthened well.

Alex Apati Ladbrokes Juventus. Having managed to keep Paulo Dybala, and with the additions of Blaise Matuidi and Douglas Costa they look to have a capable squad.

Lee Price Paddy Power Real Madrid look a bit on the short side. PSG should walk the league in France this year allowing them to rest key players when needed.

Ivor Davies Sky Bet Neither Manchester club should be dismissed lightly but slight preference is for Manchester United. They look more like a Jose Mourinho team now.

Tai Beck 188Bet Real Madrid. Their squad is settled and used to each other’s style of play. Bayern Munich and Barcelona are rebuilding and may take time to gel.

Robin Miller Sporting Index PSG can go close if their midfielders stay fit. They fluffed their lines in the second leg against Barcelona last year but this is their big chance.

Which of the market leaders is the best lay?

SF Bayern Munich. They fell at the quarter-final stage last year  and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them coming up considerably short again.

KE I think Bayern Munich will struggle once they get to the knockout stages. There is a changing of the guard and new players have to bed in.

IG Watching Barcelona’s decline is heartbreaking. Ousmane Dembele is not a replacement for Neymar, so I would look to take them on.

NJ It’s got to be PSG. They’ve gone from 20-1 to second favourites since signing Neymar and Kylian Mbappe and are now second favourites.

AAl PSG are the only team at a single-figure price who haven’t won trophy in the last five years. Despite their money, they don’t have the pedigree.

GM I can’t have any of the English clubs considering the toll of their domestic schedule and their recent barren run.

CW I’d want to be against Real Madrid and PSG at the prices. Real look too short and it will take time for PSG to knit their new signings together.

MR Barcelona. There is pressure on Dembele to fill Neymar’s boots and a team with Gerard Deulofeu and Paulinho don’t look likely winners.

AAp Having lost Neymar and failed to replace him, Barcelona could be set for a tough campaign. Their reliance on Lionel Messi will be greater.

LP Take on Real Madrid. They are already up against it in Spain and have dropped points at home to teams weaker than Dortmund and Spurs this year.

ID Real Madrid are in a tricky group and to win three in a row would be some feat. Barcelona look in a transitional phase.

TB Bayern Munich. They need to adapt to life without Philipp Lahm and Xabi Alonso. The Champions League is where they’ll miss them most. 

RM Barcelona are a shadow of their former selves particularly in midfield. They look a sorry collection of mediocre misfits. 

Name a dark horse who could go far

SF Sevilla were undone by Leicester last season but they have a good manager in Eduardo Berizzo and have the tools to go deep once again.

KE Napoli are a big price. They are an attack-minded, exciting team and their coach Maurizio Sarri is perhaps more shrewd than his predecessors. 

IG Napoli scored 94 goals in Serie A last season and have held on to all their big players. They look the pick of the outsiders.

NJ Napoli. They haven’t got much to beat in their group apart from Manchester City and with their attacking style will be tough to beat over two legs.  

AAl Manchester United are the cup kings under Jose Mourinho, hard to beat and could grind their way further than the other English sides.

GM Juventus. Last year’s finalists are not the darkest of horses but I’d expect them to go further than all of the English clubs.

CW The draw has been reasonably kind to Atletico Madrid and Dortmund who should give people a run. Benfica should be able to get out of their group.

MR Napoli look underrated. Second and third in Serie A in the past two seasons, they have a settled squad who scored 94 goals last term.

AAp RB Leipzig, last season’s surprise package in the Bundesliga, Timo Werner and co will be looking to make a big impression.

LP Napoli are probably a bit big but this year’s Monaco could be Benfica, who may have an comfortable path to the knockout stage.

ID Napoli have gone under the radar and look progressive. They have an underrated manager in Maurizio Sarri and an array of attacking talent.

TB Manchester United. Jose Mourinho is putting together a team well suited to Champions League success. Romelu Lukaku can bag plenty of goals.

RM Napoli are a solid attacking team who should benefit from an established squad having played together for a while.

Read more

Who will lift the trophy?

Top scorer

Didi Hamann

Kevin Pullein

Group A-D best bets

Group E-H best bets

Where is the best group-stage value?

SF I’m with PSG and against Bayern Munich so it’s the Parisians to win Group B comfortably. 

KE PSG. They travel to Munich on matchday one and a positive result there will make them hard to stop.

IG Atletico Madrid topped a group last season which included Bayern Munich. They have held on to their top players and can win Group C.

NJ Leipzig to win Group G. Monaco aren’t the team they were last season since losing key players and Porto aren’t as strong as in recent years.

AAl Porto to qualify from Group G. Their experience – it is their seventh consecutive group stage – should see them at least make the last 16.

GM Atletico Madrid to win Group C. They are simply a better side than favourites Chelsea while Roma are weaker than last season.

CW Leipzig should be favourites for their group. They’ve kept all of their major players from last season while  Monaco are almost starting from scratch.

MR A double on Man Utd and Liverpool to win their groups. Sevilla could push Liverpool but apart from that there is nothing to trouble either team.

AAp Real Madrid-Dortmund straight forecast in Group H. The fixtures haven’t fallen kindly for Tottenham, playing Madrid back-to-back.

LP Leipzig have kept the core of their squad from last year and added good depth so expect them to see off Monaco in Group G.

ID Porto to win Group G. I rate Porto as the best team closely followed by Leipzig. Monaco are a lot weaker than they were last year.

TB Juventus to win Group D. Sporting Lisbon and Olympiakos look whipping boys and Juve impressed against Barcelona last year.

RM Napoli to win Group F. They will challenge Manchester City for top spot which should come down to the games against each other.

What’s your nap for matchday one?

SF Barcelona looked a team to be against but they are clearly working hard for each other which can only mean bad news for visitors Juventus.

KE Napoli will have far too much firepower for Shakhtar in Ukraine tomorrow.

IG Tottenham haven’t really got going yet in Wembley and Dortmund will love the big pitch. I fancy them to win tomorrow.

NJ Leipzig to beat Monaco.

AAl Porto to beat Besiktas.

GM Tottenham to beat Borussia Dortmund. Spurs can finally get it right at Wembley to start the new campaign.

CW Spurs could struggle at Wembley and Dortmund look
a tough proposition there but Leipzig are the best bet at home to Monaco.

MR Leipzig to beat Monaco. Having sold Mbappe, Mendy and Bakayoko, it’s hard to see Monaco repeating last season’s heroics.

AAp Tottenham will be without Dele Alli, and Dortmund will look to take advantage of Mauricio Pochettino’s team to at least take a point.

LP Napoli look a great bet to win away to Shakhtar.

ID Two teams appear overpriced. Celtic to beat PSG. They can beat anyone at Parkhead. Leipzig look slightly too big to beat Monaco at home.

TB Dortmund +0.25 on the Asian handicap against Tottenham. Spurs’ games at Wembley render usual home advantage almost worthless.

RM I am surprised to see newcomers Leipzig such strong favourites against Monaco, so go with the Ligue 1 side draw no bet.

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Real Madrid demolished Barcelona over two legs in the Spanish Super Cup and look to have the best squad in the tournament by a distance - Ian Griffin
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