To a football fan, there can be few sounds sweeter than Tony Britten’s rearranged version of Zadok the Priest and it will be heard once more this week, as the Champions League returns. After a draw that produced some of the best Groups in the tournament’s history, Matchday 1 brings with it some blockbuster ties.
We start at Anfield and following the six-time European champions Liverpool being paired with Spanish champions Atletico Madrid and FC Porto, first, The Reds face former tournament victors AC Milan. In what remarkably will be only the third meeting between the two sides, their previous encounters have both been Champions League finals, including of course, 2005’s Miracle in Istanbul.
Jurgen Klopp’s men find themselves joint-top of the Premier League, but they face a Rossoneri who have won their opening three games in Serie A, continuing their rejuvenation under Stefano Piolo. Liverpool will be strong favourites with the returning Kop behind them, and SBK carry the hosts as 5/9 winners. But Milan should have Zlatan Ibrahimovic available and retain a very potent attacking threat themselves. The draw at 7/2 with UniBet, Betfair and MansionBet shouldn’t be overlooked.
One of the other three big clashes in MD1 sees Milan’s city neighbours Inter host Real Madrid, with Simone Inzaghi now at the helm of last season’s Scudetto winners. Los Blancos meanwhile, after an opening day blip away to Levante, sit top of the pile in La Liga and put five past Celta Vigo on Sunday. Inter will be a far stiffer opponent at San Siro however, and the Nerazzurri are 29/20 with MansionBet and William Hill. Real are slightly longer at 15/8 with Betway, but equally, the draw could appeal at a price of 27/10 with SBK and MatchBook.
Completing the marquee trio of fixtures involving European Cup winners, Barcelona face Bayern Munich at Camp Nou. The Catalan giants are beginning life without Lionel Messi of course, and this is their first true test of how they may fair without their talismanic Argentine. Bayern meanwhile have picked up where they left off last term under new boss Julian Nagelsmann and have scored at least three in their last four games. The bookies are slanted fairly heavily toward Die Roten here, at evens to win with SBK and MansionBet, whilst Barca are 11/4 with William Hill.
From a goals point of view, both Manchester clubs will fancy racking up the goals to open their campaign. Whether Manchester United play Cristiano Ronaldo or not, the visitors could notch quite a few against Young Boys and at 18/5 to score over 3.5 goals, UniBet are offering also 9/1 for a five-star showing. If Ronaldo does start, could the Portuguese replicate his brace from the weekend in Bern? SkyBet’s boosted 5/1 price from 5/2 is surely worth a shot.
It is perhaps Manchester City though, that might rack up the more goals as they face an RB Leipzig side somewhat struggling under Jesse Marsch. Having shipped four at home during the weekend against Bayern, 3/1 odds for City to inflict another heavy loss by four goals looks value, or for those feeling adventurous can get 8s for City to hit five, again with UniBet.
Looking for a potential upset? It may come in the form of Malmo. The Swedish champions face Juventus to open their campaign which in any other season that would be a daunting prospect. But, now shorn of one CR7, Juve have suffered successive Serie A losses and look a little without a rudder since the return of Max Allegri. The Swedes meanwhile, will see this as their big chance to take a huge scalp in front of their own fans are a full 7/1 with UniBet and SBK for a famous win. Perhaps though, the draw at 15/4 with Bet365 is the more sensible punt.