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In The Mixer: Experts pick their Champions League winners

Updated on 12:12pm GMT 31 August 2021
In The Mixer: Experts pick their Champions League winners
Alex Wrigley
Alex Wrigley
Show Bio

Content Editor at Free Super Tips, Alex was born in the shadow of Old Trafford and is an avid Man Utd fan. After graduating from university he combined his love of football, writing and betting to join FST and now closely follows goings-on in all of the top European leagues.

In The Mixer is FST’s new weekly column where we catch up with seven experts in football betting and get their opinion on the hot topic of the week.

Last Thursday, the day after the Champions League qualifiers came to a conclusion, we were blessed with the usual pomp and ceremony of the UEFA Champions League Group Stage draw and while the drawn-out programming left us bored to tears there’s no denying the draw itself threw up some absolute crackers.

PSG and Manchester City, the two outright favourites for the competition, drawn in the same group and a host of other European powerhouses facing off before the turn of the year.

We’ve already put together a huge 111/1 group stage accumulator to follow, but now let’s get the views of some more experts.

8/1 Chelsea backers dominate proceedings

Joe Champion

Sports journalist at Racing Post

I wouldn’t get too carried away with the draw. More often than not the best teams will make it through to the knockout stages and those who struggle to escape their group are unlikely to go all the way anyway.

I’m happy to take on Paris St-Germain and Manchester City with Chelsea, who have shown they have what it takes to win this competition. They should have no problems escaping a group which also includes Juventus, Zenit Saint Petersburg and Malmo and their big-game mentality is not up for debate once the knockout phase rolls around.

Manchester United have shortened up four points for the addition of a player who will turn 37 before the round-of-16 begins. Cristiano Ronaldo has Champions League experience in abundance but his teammates couldn’t even get out of the group last season. At 8-1 the Blues look a much better bet than the 10-1 Red Devils.

Aaron Ashley

Sports journalist at Racing Post

Some groups look much tougher than others and Chelsea and Manchester United will be far happier than their Premier League rivals Manchester City and Liverpool.

I expect all to progress but City’s challenge of French heavyweights PSG and Bundesliga boys Leipzig could have been kinder, while Liverpool have no easy European ride with Atletico Madrid, Milan and Porto all in their company.

Of United and Chelsea, it is Thomas Tuchel’s reigning European champions who look the standout value at 8-1.

The Blues have far greater squad depth than United, who have an outstanding starting 11 but could be hurt by injuries, and a section featuring a Cristiano Ronaldo-less Juventus, Zenit and Malmo should pose few concerns.

That ought to tee them up with a nice draw in the knockout stages and after last season’s success we know Tuchel has the big-game mentality and tactical nous to carve out positive results.

Chris Rivers

Sports journalist at Racing Post

The group stages often feel like a procession so it’s nice we have some big European nights to look forward to before the end of the year. Ultimately, it shouldn’t drastically alter the path for the big boys to reach the last-16 with Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain unlikely to fall at the first hurdle.

Backing either City or PSG doesn’t appeal much at the current odds and instead, I’d be looking at Chelsea or Bayern Munich. The Blues’ Champions League credentials are obvious after last season’s success and they have only gotten stronger since then.

Bayern lack the strength of depth of Chelsea but they are taking to life under new head coach Julian Nagelsmann well and could pose a real threat. They will make light work of the group stages as usual and having been unlucky to go out to PSG last season, they should go far again.

PSG, Liverpool, Man Utd & Atletico all in the mix

Bobbie Jackson

Sports journalist at ICS

Paris Saint-Germain’s summer business, which culminated with the arrival of Lionel Messi, made them my standout contenders prior to Thursday’s draw and I’m sticking with Les Parisiens despite landing in a group with Manchester City.

PSG and City should have more than enough to reach the last-16 stage at the expense of RB Leipzig and Club Brugge.

Defending champions Chelsea also have to be considered with little to suggest they’ll struggle in a group containing Juventus, Zenit St Petersburg and Malmo.

But Thomas Tuchel might prioritise the league this term and that could favour PSG, who are seeking that elusive European title.

Tom McGarry

Sports journalist at ICS

The Champions League draw arguably pitted the two favourites, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain, against each other, with the duo still appearing as the main protagonists in the race to lift European football’s top prize.

The arrival of Lionel Messi will undoubtedly make PSG stronger, while City have been getting closer every year, but perhaps the pressure on both club’s shoulders to reign supreme in Europe will once again prove too much.

That could open the door for another club to step in and the fairytale story could prove to be Cristiano Ronaldo sensationally leading Manchester United to European glory during his first season back at Old Trafford.

Aaron Rogan

Football journalist at Free Super Tips

The group stage draw must have caused a bit of panic on Merseyside but Liverpool should still make it through. While Atletico Madrid, Porto and AC Milan are all real tests for the Reds, last season’s poor showing has left Jurgen Klopp’s men underrated.

While all the focus is on the big name signings, Liverpool have a settled side which contains players who were European champions two years ago. With everyone fit, the Reds can rival frontrunners PSG and City.

Gareth Freeman

Football journalist at Free Super Tips

The group stage draw hasn’t exactly been kind to Atletico Madrid but I still think they have a decent chance in the Champions League this season.

Their odds have drifted a bit since being drawn with Liverpool, Porto and AC Milan in a tough looking Group B, but my thinking is that if any team is going to go on and win it they’re going to face a few tests along the way and it doesn’t really matter if those come in the group stages or not.

This Atleti team has continued to evolve and improve under Diego Simeone and have picked up where they left off with a strong start to the domestic season, and they look overpriced at 25/1 even if they do have to come through a tough group.

More betting news:

The Long View: How far can Benitez’s Everton go?

16/1 accumulator for Tuesday’s EFL Trophy action

In The Mixer: Do the experts prefer Chelsea or Liverpool for the title?

Our Football Predictions hub covers all the major leagues in world football, including our ever-popular Premier League Predictions.

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