2021-22 UEFA Champions League Group Stage Watchability Rankings For Matchday 5

Written By Tyler Everett on November 23, 2021

Matchday 5 of Champions League group play offers two match-ups between legitimate UCL contenders (Manchester City-PSG and Chelsea-Juventus). To me, though, the two most interesting games this week involve Spanish clubs that badly need wins to improve their chances of advancing.

Barcelona (hosting Benfica) and Atlético Madrid (home against AC Milan) qualify as must-see given the stakes for both La Liga clubs. We can all agree that just a bit of intrigue surrounds Manchester United as well.

While many of us will understandably lock in on American football and Turkey over the next few days, the penultimate matchday of UCL group play looks like a hell of an appetizer on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Notes: the tiers are self-explanatory, I hope. All kickoff times listed are U.S. Eastern and the home team is listed first. All matches in the U.S. are on CBS All Access/Paramount+.

TIER 1 – MUST-SEE

1. Barcelona (-160) vs. Benfica (+450) Tuesday, 3 p.m.

No pressure, Xavi. Barcelona’s first game under its savior new manager went well enough over the weekend (Barca beat crosstown rival Espanyol 1-0), but his second game in charge is as big as one can be in November. A win secures a spot in the knockout rounds for the Catalans, but a loss or draw would mean Barcelona would need a win against Bayern on Matchday 6.

No one in the organization wants to be in that position, so how Barcelona performs against a Benfica side that dominated their meeting on Matchday 2 will be the story of the next two days. In front of what will surely be a raucous crowd at Camp Nou, I think Barcelona will find a way to win this one, but Benfica Double Chance (+135) offers solid value.

2. Villarreal (+185) vs. Manchester United (+150) Tuesday, 12:45 p.m.

ManU are in good position to advance from Group F, but this is still a fascinating match-up given the sacking of OGS after the blowout loss to Watford this weekend. Who knows what we’ll see from a squad that has endured three embarrassing losses in the last month (5-0 to Liverpool on October 24, 2-0 to City on November 6 and 4-1 to Watford on November 20).

What feels like a certainty is that it will be interesting, as no team on the planet is under more scrutiny right now than this one. As far as watchability, ManU has been more reliable than anyone, with each of its UCL games to date decided in the closing minutes.

3. Atlético Madrid (-155) vs. AC Milan (+450) Wednesday, 3 p.m.

With losses in its last two Champions League matches, Atleti needs three points at home to avoid the possibility of an embarrassing exit from the competition on Matchday 6. Atleti has a habit of scoring late winners this season, and if they’re in need of one late against AC Milan, that will make for great TV. While I’ve seen Atlético come through in similar spots in group play in previous years, I’d recommend a close look at AC Milan Double Chance (+130).

4. Man City (-160) vs. Paris St. Germain (+425) Wednesday, 3 p.m.

Both these teams are going to go through, but it would be ridiculous to put a battle between two of the most loaded rosters in the sport below Tier 1. Man City at home at any payout better than -200 feels like a safe investment.

TIER 2 — WORTH A LOOK (AND A SHORTER BREAKDOWN)

5. Sporting Lisbon (+165) vs. Borussia Dortmund (+160) Wednesday, 3 p.m.

With both of these teams on 6 points and Ajax having locked up first place in this group, this one’s make-or-break. Unfortunately for Borussia Dortmund, Erling Haaland won’t be available, and that’s not the only key player missing for BVB. Be sure to keep an eye on this one, but betting-wise, I’d recommend steering clear.

6. Chelsea (-170) vs. Juventus (+500) Tuesday, 3 p.m.

EPL-leading Chelsea just keep rolling, regardless of who’s in the starting XI, and I don’t expect that to change on Tuesday. But it’s worth noting that Juve won these teams’ first meeting on Matchday 2. Ultimately, I might as well copy and paste what I said about City at home at a similar price — and in this case, Chelsea’s opponent is weaker than City’s.

7. Sevilla (-145) vs. Wolfsburg (+400) Tuesday, 3 p.m.

For me, one of the most unpleasant surprises of group play is Sevilla taking only 3 points from its four Champions League games. These guys still have a chance to advance, but likely need to beat both Wolfsburg this week and RB Salzburg on Matchday 6. Now that they’re in desperation mode (and playing at home, at least in this one), I expect better from Julen Lopetegui’s club.

8. Liverpool (-110) vs. Porto (+285) Wednesday, 3 p.m.

Liverpool is one of the few teams in Europe that is worth your attention despite having nothing to play for. Are the Reds good enough to win with a squad full of backups? I’m curious enough to tune in and find out.

TIER 3 – WHAT ELSE ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR AFTERNOON?

9. Young Boys (+350) vs. Atalanta (-145) Tuesday, 3 p.m.

Atalanta would move into second place with a win if ManU beats Villarreal. Based on what we’ve seen so far (and also in previous years), I’d rather see Atalanta in the round of 16 than Villarreal, so let’s hope they handle Young Boys to give themselves a shot going into Matchday 6.

10. Lille (+155) vs. RB Salzburg (+185) Tuesday, 3 p.m.

There’s plenty to play for in Group G, and the line here tells you these teams are evenly matched.

11. Club Brugge (+235) vs. RB Leipzig (+110) Wednesday, 3 p.m.

RB Leipzig, with just 1 point through four games, has been eliminated. If it wasn’t for American Manager Jesse Marsch, I’d have this one in Tier 4.

12. Besiktas (+600) vs. Ajax (-240) Wednesday, 12:45 p.m.

Are Ajax’s reserves as incredible as their starters? I doubt it, but Ajax has earned automatic “Tier 3 or better” status by winning their first four games in Group C by a combined score of 14-2 (!!).

TIER 4 —BACKGROUND SOCCER (IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER)

13. Malmo (+310) vs. Zenit (-110) Tuesday, 3 p.m.

14. Dynamo Kiev (+900) vs. Bayern Munich (-360) Tuesday, 12:45 p.m.

15. Sheriff Tiraspol (+1,100) vs. Real Madrid (-425) Wednesday, 3 p.m.

16. Inter Milan (-330) vs. Shakhtar Donetsk (+850) Wednesday, 12:45 p.m.

WHERE TO BET CHAMPIONS LEAGUE IN THE US

In the US, you can legally bet on soccer in more than two dozen states. You can bet online in some states, but only in-person betting is allowed in most of them.

DraftKings Sportsbook is available in Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.

FanDuel Sportsbook is available in Arkansas, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.

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