The 2020-21 UEFA Champions League group stage fixtures start Tuesday, October 20th.
Just like every year, we’ll have a panel of pundits giving their predictions. Whoever gets the most right will win a buffet from CiCi’s Pizza!
Or just have the pride of knowing they were right👍
Teams: Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid, Red Bull Salzburg, Lokomotiv Moscow
Chops: I have a feeling this is going to be a very chalky group stages post. Bayern are -5000 and Atleti are -500 to come out in the top 2. It’ll go in that order too. No matter how much scheming Diego Simeone does in his male pattern baldness head, nothing is stopping Die Roten from finishing atop the group.
It’s Bayern 1, Atleti 2.
Tyler: I don’t have a whole lot to say here, other than to mention that I’m excited to hear what Chops has to say about Diego Simeone’s hair. I don’t see how Bayern doesn’t win the group, and I feel very confident in Atleti finishing second.
Uttiyo: Salzburg are of course missing ERLING BRAUT HAALAND this time, but with him they could’ve given Atleti a crack for their money. But having lost key players, they just aren’t strong enough to compete with either.
Bayern should just dominate their way and win the group, even if they drop points away to Atleti. Should be a fun group, but Bayern & Atleti to progress in the end.
Alex: For me, this group is the most straightforward one. Red Bull Salzburg will provide entertainment but they’ll concede more goals than what they score. Bayern finish first & Atleti take second.
Teams: Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk, Inter Milan, Borussia Monchengladbach
Chops: Real Madrid and Inter are odds-on to get out of the group. No argument there, but I can see some fluky results in this one too. Inter never makes it easy on themselves and this will go down to the final matchday.
Los Blancos are clearly the class of the group. However, it seems inevitable that one or both of Real Madrid and Inter drop points away at Shakhtar Donetsk.
Inter’s xPTs has them 8th in Serie A. It’ll be a tight grouping for 2nd out of the group but the Serie A side has too much talent not to advance. Real come out in first, Inter second.
Tyler: I expect this one to be tighter and more compelling than the oddsmakers think, as they have RM at -835 and Inter at -375 to finish top-two. Monchengladbach and Shakhtar will make Los Blancos and Inter sweat, but I don’t see any way those two don’t emerge. I’ll take Inter to win the group ahead of Real Madrid, though.
Uttiyo: Real Madrid and Inter are definitely favorites considering their history, but I’m still not 100% sure of Inter. They crashed their way out of a difficult group last time and Shakhtar have that dark horse vibe to themselves.
Thanks to Zidane, Madrid should win the group even if they have to shithouse their way to it. Will be an interesting battle between Shakhtar and Inter for the second. I’ll actually go with Shakhtar winning that second spot!
Alex: Inter Milan & Real Madrid progress to the last 16 with the Nazzuri topping the group. Antonio Conte has an exciting squad at his disposal brimming with talent & options after another excellent transfer window for Inter.
Real Madrid on the other hand didn’t spend a penny this summer transfer window for the first time since 1980. Times are hard for Los Blancos with COVID-19 & improvements at the Santiago Bernabeu tightening the purse strings. Zidane’s squad is looking stagnant & Benzema, Ramos & Modric are the wrong side of 30 to handle the physical demands of this ridiculous fixture schedule.
Teams: Porto, Manchester City, Olympiakos, Marseille
Chops: Who cares.
City and Porto.
Tyler: Nothing original to say about who I like to win this group — I’m going with City too. It’s interesting how tight the oddsmakers think this will be, after City of course. While Guardiola’s team is -10,000 to finish top-2 — and -835 to win the group, which tells you all you need to know about the “challenges” they face — Porto is +100 to finish top-2, followed by Marseille (+130) and Olympiakos (+350). So based on that, there’s not much separating Porto and Marseille.
Marseille, however, is … *checks Ligue 1 standings … in 10th place in Ligue 1 on nine points through six games. Porto it is in second!
Uttiyo: Man City getting an easy CL group? Who could’ve imagined that! Anyways this should be a comparative cakewalk for City even though Porto should make them drop points at some point. City to win it and Porto to progress alongside them.
Alex: No surprises here I’m backing Man City to win the group.
I like Marseille to take second spot. I’ve always rated Andre Villas-Boas as a manager & his failed tenures at Chelsea & Tottenham were due to inexperience not ability. With Dimitri Payet & Florian Thauvin on the wings they’ll ask questions of any side who faces them.
Teams: Liverpool, Ajax, Atalanta, Midtjylland
Chops: This is not your hipster brother’s Ajax. They’ve lost too much firepower to make it to the knockout rounds.
Midkthaoiau;ldskland looks like somebody sneezed while typing. Great story, not great odds of getting out.
I’m suspending my positivity on Liveprool until I see their defense is back to being buttoned up. Atalanta advance first and Liveprool second, unless it’s Liverpool first and Atalanta second. How’s that for some Tyler Everett level waffling!
Tyler: Get your popcorn, especially if you think of defending as take it or leave it. This is not the Ajax of ‘18-19 or even ‘19-20, but they should still be able to make things happen, right? I admit that might be wishful thinking this year.
Atalanta did not lose any major pieces during the summer, and sure enough, they do not appear to have cooled off offensively, scoring 13 goals in their first three games of the year in Serie A.
Liverpool could conceivably score 4 or 5 goals a night in this group, so they’re going through in first, whether their defense is on point or not. I’d love to see another Ajax run, but there’s not much left — at least not that we know and love — besides Dusan Tadic and David Neres, so Atalanta will finish in second relatively comfortably.
Uttiyo: This should be a very, very spicy group! Expect A LOT OF GOALS in it and some big wins. Poor Midtylland should end up being the whipping boys but the other 3 all will claw at each other’s necks.
Liverpool are too strong to not win the group but expect some close shaves with both teams. Atalanta have started this season amazingly well (they lead Serie A table rn) and still look a joy to watch. Ajax lost Van de Beek and don’t seem that strong to outplay Atalanta. I’ll go with Liverpool 1, Atalanta 2 – but this group will be closer than you think!
Alex: I can’t see Ajax or Midtyjlland putting up much of a fight against Liverpool & Atalanta. The Dutch side have essentially been asset stripped since reaching the semi-finals two years ago with Matthijs De Ligt, Donny van de Beek, Frenkie de Jong & Hakim Ziyech all moving on.
I’m backing Atalanta to beat Liverpool to top spot on goal difference.
Teams: Sevilla, Chelsea, Krasnodar, Stade Rennes
Chops: Tyler is having Getafegasms over Sevilla this season. He’s won me over. They advance in first.
Isn’t Krasnodar one of the aliens on the Simpson’s Treehouse of Horrors? Anyway, CHRISTIAN PULISIC-LED Chelsea go through in second.
Tyler: Sevilla is the team I’m going to bang the drum for until someone emerges from obscurity to unseat them, and Getafe, as my “I’m the only one who cares about these guys and I don’t care who knows it” fascination. Jokes aside, these guys (talking about Sevilla here) are the real deal, and they’re unlikely to beat themselves. Chelsea has the higher ceiling, but I trust Sevilla more. I doubt I need to explain myself any further to fans of Inter Milan and Bayern Munich. So I’ll go with Sevilla in first, followed by Chelsea in second. Chelsea is full of stars on everyone’s radar, but if you haven’t gotten acquainted with Sevilla’s Lucas Ocampos, lock in on him starting next week.
Uttiyo: Welp, the winners of the last 2 editions of the UEFA Europa League have been placed in a pretty nice group, haven’t they? Chelsea might’ve had an unconvincing start to the season, but they’re too strong not to get out of this group.
But I think it’ll be an extremely close fight between them and Sevilla for the first place. I think individual quality will eventually help Chelsea nudge their way into winning the group, with Sevilla finishing a close second.
Alex: Chelsea & Sevilla have enough to get through this group but I think Stade Rennes will push them to the very end. The French side are sitting top of Ligue1 right now & invested heavily in the summer with seven new signings.
Sevilla’s European experience grabs them top spot & Frank Lampard’s side secures second on the final matchday.
Teams: Zenit St. Petersburg, Borussia Dortmund, Lazio, Club Brugge
Chops: BVB is a perennial darkhorse candidate to me. At least while they still have Jadon Sancho and ERLING BRAUT HAALAND.
Zenit have been playing domestically longer than any of these teams. They’re a better side than given credit for. They’re due to advance. BVB 1, Zenit 2.
Tyler: Dortmund is not only arguably the most entertaining team in the field, but a legit threat to make some noise beyond group play. Lazio and Ciro Immobile will push the German club, but I like BVB to win this group, followed by Immobile and Co. in second.
I’d feel a lot worse about sleeping on Zenit if Vegas didn’t agree with me, as the Russian Pot 1 side is +150 to advance, well behind BVB (-400) and Lazio (-182).
Based on my colleagues’ good points about Lazio’s recent form, though, Zenit at +150 might be a good investment.
Uttiyo: This shouldn’t be the group everyone should be sleeping on mainly due to the level of quality+future players on show. Borussia Dortmund have Erling Haaland & Jadon Sancho, both who should terrorize every single opponent in this group.
Lazio are a pretty exciting side as well, while Zenit have a couple of solid players, but I don’t see either posing a massive threat to BVB. Dortmund tops this group and I think Zenit progresses alongside them, mostly because Lazio struggle in UCL and prioritize challenging for Serie A more than playing in Europe.
Alex: Borussia Dortmund’s choice to stand firm & keep hold of Jadon Sancho will ease their passage to the knockout stages. BVB will win this group & Haaland is looking better & better with each game. The Norwegian scored a hattrick on international duty at the weekend & I can see him running riot in this group scoring at least 6 goals.
Lazio have a talented squad & were one of Europe’s in form sides before COVID-19 closed everything down. The break in play halted their momentum & they’ve struggled to find consistency ever since. I don’t see them turning it around anytime soon & Zenit will pip them to second spot.
Teams: Juventus, Barcelona, Dynamo Kiev, Ferencvaros
Chops: Given the average age of players on Juventus and Barcelona, this should actually be the Group of Death. They’re geriatric af.
Barcelona looks pretty good under Koeman! The Catalans are favored to win the group (-155). Barca and Juve are equi-priced at -10000 to advance. So long as Messi stays healthy and Ronaldo can keep himself from raping someone else in the next couple of months, both will advance easily. Barca come out in first, Juve in second.
Tyler: Group G as in Geriatric AF — love it! And if I have anything to do with it, that’s what this group will be known as going forward. It’s unfortunate that CR7 could miss both matchday 1 vs. Dynamo Kiev next week and matchday 2 vs. Barcelona on October 28. His team should (and by “should” I mean “better”) still have plenty of horsepower to secure second ahead of Dynamo and Ferencvaros.
I like Barcelona and what I hope will continue to be an energetic, athletic supporting cast (depending on who Manager Ronald Koeman goes with) to win this group, though, and I’m all the more confident now that Ronaldo’s status is unclear.
This isn’t the only group that appears to have two locks to advance, and Chops just mentioned this, but holy shit, both Juve and Barcelona being priced at -10,000 to advance has to be completely unprecedented, doesn’t it??
Also, how great is that we might see not one, not two, but three (??!) USMNT guys in this group in Juve’s Weston McKennie, Barcelona’s Sergiño Dest and possibly even Barcelona’s Konrad de la Fuente too.
Uttiyo: Sure, this one is being hyped for the Ronaldo v Messi battle (which might not even happen twice due to CR7 getting Covid), but there’s definitely more to see to it. Both teams are improving under new managers and I’m personally stoked to see the conflicting styles of the sides clash in this one!
I still don’t think Barca have a brilliant #9 who can win them every game here and Juve look a more complete side in terms of their impressive squad depth. While Kyiv and Ferencvaros could (unfortunately) be the whipping boys here, I think Juve will edge out Barca to win this group.
Alex: The focus of this group will be Messi vs Ronaldo but I’m more interested in learning about Andrea Pirlo’s management style. He’s gone for youth & energy in his opening games with USMNT Weston McKennie, Gianluca Frabotta & Dejan Kulusevski starting. Will he do the same against Barcelona or look to his more experienced players?
Koeman has gotten off to a great start but Barcelona’s squad is still top heavy & they failed to address their defensive shortcomings in the summer transfer window. They’ll make it out of the group in second behind Juventus.
Teams: PSG, Manchester United, RB Leipzig, Istanbul Basaksehir
This one is the actual supposed “Group of Death.” But is it?
PSG are the class. They should espringale through the group with ease.
While Man U is favored to come out of the group as well, they need to immediately find their form to do so. The fact they draw PSG for their first fixture is not good.
In what will be music to Alex Blowers ears, I’m going RB Leipzig coming out second to PSG.
Tyler: First of all, tell me more about this “espringale.” Can’t wait to be enlightened on that.
I have no doubt that PSG will win this group. Last year’s was arguably more challenging — if nothing else, ‘19-20 Real Madrid > current ManU, by a lot — and the Parisians absolutely romped.
So the question is who joins Neymar and Co. I was down on RB Leipzig’s Champions League quarterfinal chances without Timo Werner last year, but Manager Julian Nagelsmann and his team impressed me by beating Atleti to reach the semis. I like Leipzig to finish second ahead of Manchester United.
It won’t be a massive payout, but I think my favorite top-2 bet on the board right now is RBL at +115.
Uttiyo: Even while being the most optimistic, it’s hard to see how Man United will qualify out of this group. They’ve started the season poorly and still look all over the place in games. PSG have gotten rid of their UCL-choking bug and are just too good not to win this group.
It comes down to Leipzig vs United, but Julian Nagelsmann has the German side flying. After the way they performed last season, I feel Leipzig will finish 2nd to PSG and United will, unfortunately, have to go down to the Europa League.
Alex: I can see this group being the end of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s managerial reign at Manchester United. His tactical shortcomings will be fully exposed by Thomas Tuchel & Julian Nagelsmann. OGS might get a couple of performances out of his squad & definitely some fortuitous penalties but it will be Thursday night football for the Red Devils in 2021.
PSG to win the group & RB Leipzig take second.
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