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Champions League groups: Who’s sitting pretty, who’s set to miss out?

While Man City face Bayern Munich and Liverpool take on champions Real Madrid, it’s looking cheerier for Chelsea. The Gunners have a good chance too – but where’s the value in the group stages?

Mancs, but no Mancs?

Man City’s Champions League recent history is at odds with their impressive Premier League form. In the last five seasons, the side have never made it further than the round of 16 – and this time Manuel Pellegrini’s side is going to have to battle just to make it out of Group E.

Bayern Munich and Roma are each likely to provide stern challenges, while CSKA Moscow offer their own challenges. So are City destined for more disappointment this season? They’re still 1 / 4 to qualify, behind Bayern at 1/33 but ahead of 5/2 shots Roma.

If you’re confident City are going to catch fire this time though – surely they’ve got the players to give anyone a scrap? – they’re 9/4 to win the group (and 12/1 to win the whole enchilada).

Fancy a bet on City’s top Champions League scorer? Sergio Aguero is 6/5, but while the Argentine is deadly when fit, he’s also injury-prone – might Edin Dzeko offer more value at 4/1?

Mersey Paradise?

Real Madrid may promise a stern challenge, but nonetheless Liverpool will fancy their chances in Group B. Of course, Real themselves are hardly invincible – the Reds dispatched Real 4-0 back in 2009. But even if the Spanish super club prove too strong this time, on the face of it the likes of FC Basel and Bulgarian side Ludogorets shouldn’t pose too many problems for Brendan Rodgers’ side.

Liverpool are 1/7 to qualify from their group, 3/1 to finish as group winners. And if you think the club’s free-flowing style is set to result in a bunch of goals in their European campaign, the club are currently 14/1 to be the highest scoring side in the Champions League.

Liverpool are also a hefty 20/1 to win the tournament – and the same price to finish in the runner-up position, though you’d be gutted if you backed them for that and they ended up winning…

Of course, there’s plenty who’d argue I’m in cloud cuckoo land even for suggesting a Liverpool victory. It’s still too early to say how Rodgers and his side will deal with the absence of Luis Suarez. But what an amazing outcome it would be if they could off-load the troublesome Uruguayan, only to go on and win the Champions League!

If that outlook is a little optimistic for you, Liverpool are 11/8 to go out in the second round

Up the Arsenal?

In Arsenal’s 17th straight season of Champions League qualification, could Arsene Wenger finally be poised to land the Champions League trophy? If that sounds like crazy talk, the North London side will at least fancy their chances of qualification from the group stage.

Arsenal face off against Borussia Dortmund, Galatasaray and Anderlecht in Group D – and the Gunners are 11/10 favourites to win the group. Like Liverpool, they’re 20/1 shots to reach the final, and 6/1 to crash out at the semi-final stage – which would still be an improvement on last year’s failure to make it past the round of 16.

So who’s Arsenal’s likeliest top goalscorer in the Champions League this season? New signing Alexis Sanchez is the favourite at 5/4, but will Wenger persist with the Chilean as an out-an-out striker? Aaron Ramsay doesn’t fit that role either – but he’s been immense for Arsenal in the last 18 months, and at 8/1 the Welshman isn’t a bad shout…

Easy ride for Chelsea?

Jose Mourinho is yet to win club football’s most coveted trophy for Chelsea, but the Portuguese with the massive gob may just be fancying his chances this year.

Okay, so you can never call the group stage a formality. But with Group G, Mourinho could scarcely have asked for a softer batch of opponents in Schalke 04, Sporting Clube de Portugal, and NK Maribor (whatever Celtic fans would tell you to the contrary).

The West London club are currently 7/1 to take Champions League victory, but if you’re not getting carried away just yet there are other options. Even if odds of 1/500 for Chelsea to qualify from the group tell you everything you need to know.

If the prospect of laying down a monkey to win back one shiny new pound doesn’t entice, there are other options – Chelsea are 1/5 to win the group, 8/11 in the straight forecast to win the group, with Schalke second.

There are other markets worth considering; if you think Jose and co will ultimately come unstuck, try the Stage of Elimination market. Chelsea are 7/2 to crash out at the semi-final stage.

More great Champions League specials here.

Disclaimer: Victor Chandler, trading as BetVictor, is licensed by the Government of Gibraltar.

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