The UEFA Champions League group stages officially get underway this week and we have some absolute blockbusters on our hands! We take a look at some of the key matchups of the week and give our betting tips for Matchday 1 below.
Wednesday 15th September, 5.00am (AEST)
Barcelona will be coming into this game fresh after not having played a domestic game over the weekend. They are still, however, suffering from a big hole left by the departure of star player Lionel Messi, and one of the key players brought in to replace him in Sergio Aguero will miss the clash with a calf injury. Barcelona sit in 7th place through just three games of the La Liga season, having recorded 2 wins and 1 draw.
Bayern are undefeated in their domestic competition as well. Having recorded 3 wins and 1 draw to sit 2nd on the table behind only Wolfsburg. They are a few weeks removed from a 12-0 demolition job over Bremer in the DFB-Pokal, the German equivalent of the FA Cup.
Even on the road, it's hard to look past Bayern Munich here. They will be without only Tolisso for this clash, while Barcelona will be missing Aguero, Brathwaite, Dembele, Fati, Roberto and Wague. How's this for a stat: Bayern have won their previous 17 UCL opening matches by an aggregate scoreline of 42-2, in a streak stretching back to 2003/04.
Thursday 16th September, 5.00am (AEST)
Liverpool will kick off their UCL campaign with an interesting clash against Italian side AC Milan. The Reds have started the EPL season well, recording a 3-1-0 record through four games so far to sit in the top three. They were impressive against Leeds on the weekend despite suffering a horrific injury to young gun Harvey Elliot that will see him sidelined for the rest of the season at minimum.
AC Milan are 3-0-0 through the first three games of their domestic season, having scored seven goals and conceded just one. They will be without striker Olivier Giroud for this clash, which could force veteran Zlatan Ibrahimovic into the starting line-up.
Liverpool look the goods at home, with the form guide favouring them against the Italian outfit. AC Milan have won just one of their last 13 European matches against English sides, drawing four and losing eight of them. Sadio Mane is looking to become just the fourth African player to score 20 goals in the UCL, back him to score and the Reds to win.
Thursday 16th September, 5.00am (AEST)
Manchester City have an embarrassment of riches in their depth at the moment, with star winger Raheem Stirling struggling to even get a regular game at the moment. Whatever line-up they run out with on Thursday morning, you can be sure it will be capable of winning against the mid-tier German outfit, RB Leipzig.
Leipzig have had a rough start to the season in the Bundesliga, currently sitting in 12th place with just a 1-0-3 record through four games. They were punished 1-4 against Bayern Munich on the weekend, and can expect a similar level of competition in the UCL clash this week.
Manchester City have won their last three games at home by a scoreline of 5-0. Leipzig also travelled to Manchester Last season in the Euroleague to face United, where they were beaten 5-0. I think this will be a pretty dominant win for Manchester City given their current offensive form.
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