First of all, yes, this week’s rankings will look a lot like the ones for matchday 3.
Inter Milan-Real Madrid is once again the clear No. 1 on this list – with Antonio Conte’s team in desperation mode, this would be must-see regardless of Inter’s opponent – but the rest of the rankings do differ from last time around.
Speaking of the rest of the rankings, let’s get to them!
Notes: the tiers are self-explanatory, I hope. All kickoff times listed are U.S. eastern and the home team is listed first.
TIER 1 – MUST-SEE
1. Inter Milan (+110) vs. Real Madrid (+225) Wednesday, 3 p.m.
Inter Milan currently has just a 40% chance of reaching the round of 16, according to FiveThirtyEight. While they only have 2 points through three games, the fact that no one in their group has more than Monchengladbach’s five means their chances of advancing to the knockout rounds are still alive. But they absolutely have to get all three points vs. Los Blancos this week.
RM is missing a slew of key pieces including Sergio Ramos and Fede Valverde, which is why they’re the underdogs here. Los Blancos managed a 1-1 draw vs. Villarreal over the weekend and are tough enough to make life difficult for Inter despite being undermanned.
2. PSG (-177) vs. RB Leipzig (+425) Tuesday, 3 p.m.
PSG have not been themselves to this point this season, and they need three points here, too. Just not quite as badly as Inter Milan does.
RB Leipzig is a tough opponent despite how they looked against Manchester United in that still-shocking 5-0 loss on matchday 2. It’s hard to understand why RBL is such a massive underdog here, just a couple weeks after they beat the Ligue 1 giants 2-1. Tune in to see whether PSG finally look like they did a year ago, or whether they’re going to be at legit risk of not finishing top-2 in Group H with two games to play. FiveThirtyEight currently gives them a 43% chance to reach knockout play.
3. Liverpool (-152) vs. Atalanta (+370) Wednesday, 3 p.m.
No team has been hit harder by the compressed schedule (and the reckless “defense” of Everton, among other things), but Klopp’s team keeps rolling. Beating Leicester 3-0 is impressive under any circumstances. With a MASH unit like Liverpool’s current outfit, that result is still difficult to comprehend a day later.
The question this week is whether Liverpool can score enough (yes they can) but also hold up defensively against an Atalanta team that is better than it showed against the Reds a few weeks ago in that 5-0 trouncing. Between Liverpool’s injuries and the fact that they’re already basically guaranteed a spot in the knockout rounds, if not a first-place finish in Group D, Atalanta at +370 is great value here.
TIER 2 – WORTH A LOOK (AND A SHORTER BREAKDOWN)
4. Bayern Munich (-500) vs. RB Salzburg (+1,150) Wednesday, 3 p.m.
The first meeting between these teams seemed intriguing on paper. Despite the final score of 6-2, that was, in many ways, a good fight. Seriously, these teams were tied at 2 in the 78th … and then Bayern scored in the 79th, 83rd, 88th and 92nd. When the underdog is +1,150, I can’t call the match-up appointment viewing, but this is worth a look.
5. Monchengladbach (-200) vs. Shakhtar Donetsk (+510) Wednesday, 12:55 p.m.
Playing at home, Monchengladbach has a great chance to just about seal a top-2 finish with a win here. In the most unpredictable of the eight groups, expect something bizarre, even if oddsmakers don’t like Shakhtar’s chances at all.
6. Borussia Dortmund (-400) vs. Club Brugge (+1,050) Tuesday, 3 p.m.
Dortmund is a fun team to watch (#littledidyouknow). Club Brugge, on the other hand, is a massive underdog here for a reason. Don’t expect a nailbiter, but I’m not going to be the person to discourage any match-ups involving Braut Erling Haaland, who scored four (!) more goals over the weekend against Hertha Berlin.
7. Atlético Madrid (-455) vs. Lokomotiv Moscow (+1,300) Wednesday, 3 p.m.
Atleti hasn’t played soccer this entertaining since … who knows when. But after Saturday’s 1-0 win over Barcelona, this team remains red-hot in LaLiga and worth a watch, especially against a Lokomotiv team that played them to a 1-1 draw on Matchday 3.
8. Marseille (+195) vs. Porto (+155) Wednesday, 3 p.m.
You can’t a game with a line this tight any lower than Tier 2. Porto all but seals a place alongside City in the knockout rounds with a win here. Marseille is one of just two teams that didn’t capture a single point in their first three games of group play.
TIER 3 – THERE’S ALWAYS WORSE THINGS TO BE DOING THAN WATCHING SOCCER
9. Dynamo Kiev (+390) vs. Barcelona (-148) Tuesday, 3 p.m.
Barcelona is entering a long stretch without one of their most important leaders, as Gerard Piqué was injured in Saturday’s loss to Atleti and will be out several months. The Catalans should be OK in this one, and they’re in good shape to advance out of this group along with Juventus, but a tough season just got significantly more difficult with the loss of Piqué.
10. Lazio (-162) vs. Zenit St. Petersburg (+430) Tuesday, 3 p.m.
A win here gives Lazio eight points, which should be enough to move them to the round of 16, especially if BVB handles Club Brugge.
11. Ajax (-335) vs. Midtjylland (+800) Wednesday, 3 p.m.
Don’t look now, but if Ajax knocks off Midtjylland here and Liverpool beats Atalanta (neither of which are exactly far-fetched), Ajax would be well on its way to the knockout rounds. The Dutch club is impressing despite a ton of recent roster attrition, and a top-2 finish in a group with Liverpool and Atalanta would be a tremendous accomplishment.
TIER 4 —ADMITTEDLY NOT SURE WHAT TO SAY ON THESE
12. Manchester United (-420) vs. Istanbul Basaksehir (+1,200) Tuesday, 3 p.m.
13. Rennes (+440) vs. Chelsea (-167) Tuesday, 12:55 p.m.
14. Olympiacos (+950) vs. Manchester City (-335) Wednesday, 12:55 p.m.
15. Krasnodar (+410) vs. Sevilla (-152) Tuesday, 12:55 p.m.
16. Juventus (-835) vs. Ferencvaros (+1,900) Tuesday, 3 p.m.
WHERE TO BET THE 2020-21 UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE IN THE US
In the US, you can legally bet on soccer in New Jersey, Indiana and Pennsylvania.