2021-22 UEFA Champions League Group Stage Watchability Rankings For Matchday 6

Written By Tyler Everett on December 7, 2021

Though Matchday 1 of Champions League group play feels to me like it happened a few weeks ago (those games were actually played September 14-15), the 16 teams advancing to the knockout rounds will be decided by Wednesday afternoon.

In fact, the Champions League knockout draw is scheduled for Monday, December 13 (11 a.m. GMT). Before then, there’s still quite a bit to be settled, as 11 teams are already through, while 11 more have a shot at the five remaining places. Just 10 of the 32 participants in group play have already been eliminated.

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 US are on CBS All Access.

TIER 1 – MUST-SEE

1. Atalanta (-135) vs. Villarreal (+340) Wednesday, 3 p.m.

Everyone’s talking much more about Barcelona’s do-or-die trip to Munich to face Bayern and Atleti’s must-win match at Porto. To me, however, you can’t top a game where the winner is definitely going through. We’ll get to Atleti-Porto and Bayern-Barca, but I’m fascinated to see whether one of the darlings of the Champions League the last few years can reach the round of 16 — and I’m not talking about Villarreal, which is in 13th place in La Liga after another loss this weekend. I like Atalanta at home, with the Serie A side needing a win (Villarreal goes through with a draw) to reach knockout play once again.

2. Bayern Munich (-150) vs. Barcelona (+350) Wednesday, 3 p.m.

The biggest game of Xavi’s tenure comes Wednesday. The Catalans won’t see Bayern’s best XI given they clinched first in the group a while ago and are coming off a tough rivalry win over Dortmund this weekend. But no one’s expecting a Bayern lineup full of backups, which is bad news for a Barcelona team that has been solid through four games under Xavi, but hasn’t seen anything like the side they’ll face this week.

Barcelona needs a minor miracle here, and I think they’re going to need help from Dynamo Kiev (which can save Barca with a result against Benfica) to get it. With so much more to play for than the Germans, Barcelona Double Chance (+130) might be worth a look, but that’s probably wishful thinking from someone who wants to see Barcelona in the knockout rounds.

3. Porto (+165) vs. Atlético Madrid (+180) Tuesday, 3 p.m.

Atleti find themselves needing to win and have Liverpool’s B side come through against AC Milan to reach the knockout stages. Getting eliminated prior to the round of 16 would be disastrous for this club, and as the line tells us, there’s a great chance of that happening. Atlético’s Champions League struggles this year started with a 0-0 draw against Porto on Matchday 1, and we should expect another low-scoring game between these two on Tuesday.

4. Real Madrid (+120) vs. Inter Milan (+235) Tuesday, 3 p.m.

Real Madrid is the only team in Spain that’s guaranteed a place in the knockout rounds, but they’re still in for a battle, as both Los Blancos and Inter will be going out all out to try and finish first – and secure the favorable draw that accompanies a first-place finish in group play. RM only needs a draw here, but without Karim Benzema, don’t be surprised if they struggle. Inter Milan is great value at +235. We had plenty more to say about this one on the latest episode of the High Press Pod.

5. RB Salzburg (+205) vs. Sevilla (+105) Wednesday, 3 p.m.

Sevilla has won just one of five Champions League games to date this year, but they’re still alive after handling Wolfsburg 2-0 on Matchday 5. Julen Lopetegui’s team also boasts a big experience advantage over RB Salzburg and seems unlikely to give their opponents 3 (!!) PKs in a half again. Yes, that happened when these teams met on Matchday 1, and yes, Sevilla still scraped out a draw despite Sevilla playing with 10 men from the 50th minute until the final whistle. Sevilla on the money line feels like the right move.

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

6. AC Milan (+100) vs. Liverpool (+260) Tuesday, 3 p.m.

The Italians remain alive despite piling up three ugly losses and a draw to start group play. This is a team that is lucky it still has a shot, but now that it’s here, it might just have a manageable path to a top-2 finish in Group B, which has been dominated by Liverpool. Sometimes, it just pays to be facing the team that has nothing to play for (with 15 points and first place secured, Liverpool will likely rest most of its top players). Can Zlatan and AC Milan take advantage?

7. Wolfsburg (+130) vs. Lille (+225) Wednesday, 3 p.m.

Wolfsburg needs a win and some help to go through, while Lille seals a top-2 finish in Group G with a draw. Lille is in just 11th place in Ligue 1, but Wolfsburg is struggling in the Bundesliga as well. Something has to give here, I think, and I’m gonna lean toward the mid-table team in the Bundesliga over the side in a similar position in France every time.

8. Benfica (-320) vs. Dynamo Kiev (+950) Wednesday, 3 p.m.

The game everyone in Barcelona will be holding their breath watching involves a solid Benfica squad and a Dynamo Kiev team that has been one of the worst in UCL group play. The pride of the Ukrainian Premier League (or something like that) have scored just once in five games in this tournament, while allowing nine. Based on that, and their absurd price, it’s hard to see this ending in anything other than a comfortable win for Benfica. But given everything at stake, this still deserves (some of) your attention.

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

9. Manchester United (-260) vs. Young Boys (+650) Wednesday, 3 p.m.

Two things here: A) there was no way we could put the rematch of the unforgettable 2-1 upset by Young Boys over ManU a few months ago in Tier 4. B) Ralf Rangnick’s team has been solid since OGS was sacked following the 4-1 loss to Watford on November 20, and every match they play under Rangnick will be worth our attention for quite a while longer.

10. Shakhtar Donetsk (-185) vs. Sheriff Tiraspol (+550) Tuesday, 3 p.m.

How dare oddsmakers disrespect Sheriff Tiraspol like this! Seriously, though, can someone tell me why Shakhtar is so heavily favored here? Unless I’m missing something, Sheriff Tiraspol looks awfully tempting at +550.

TIER 4 — BACKGROUND SOCCER (IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER)

11. RB Leipzig (+275) vs. Man City (-110) Tuesday, 12:45 p.m.

12. Ajax (-260) vs. Sporting Lisbon (+650) Tuesday, 3 p.m.

13. Borussia Dortmund (-390) vs. Besiktas (+950) Tuesday, 3 p.m.

14. PSG (-300) vs. Club Brugge (+750) Tuesday, 12:45 p.m.

15. Juventus (-600) vs. Malmo (+1,500) Wednesday, 12:45 p.m.

16. Zenit St. Petersburg (+550) vs. Chelsea (-200) 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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