Tag Archive | "2012"

2012-2013 UEFA Champions League Groups, Tips, and Predictions

Group Stage Set For 2012 Champions League: The 2012 Champions League is going to be a tough haul for the 32 teams that are involved, as just one can claim the biggest prize in European soccer. The ping-pong balls have been drawn, and the 32 teams have been placed into their eight Champions League groups of four for the fixtures that are going to get underway starting in September. Needless to say, there are going to be a few teams that are quite happy with what should be relatively easy draws going into the knockout rounds of the Champions League, but there are others that are going to be quite upset with the teams that they are going to be sharing fixtures with for the rest of the calendar year.

2012 Champions League Groups
Group A: Dinamo Zagreb, Dynamo Kiev, FC Porto, Paris Saint-Germain
Group B: Arsenal, Montpellier, Olympiacos, Schalke 04
Group C: AC Milan, Anderlecht, Malaga, Zenit St. Petersburg
Group D: Ajax, Borussia Dortmund, Manchester City, Real Madrid
Group E: Chelsea, Juventes, Nordsjaelland, Shakhtar Donetsk
Group F: Bate Borisov, Bayern Munich, Lille, Valencia
Group G: Barcelona, Benfica, Celtic, Spartak Moskow
Group H: Braga, CFR Cluj, Galatarsaray, Manchester United

At one glance, the team that has to be quite happy is Manchester United in Group H. Surely, there will be a fixture or two in which full points aren’t achieved, but relatively speaking, this is going to be the easiest group that the Red Devils could have asked for. The truth of the matter is that another English giant, Arsenal has a relatively easy draw as well, knowing that it shouldn’t have all that many problems with Schalke, Olympiacos, and Montpellier in Group B.

Further down the road, it appears as though PSG, the team that is the overwhelming favorite to win the Ligue 1 this year, will be able to get into the knockout rounds of the Champions League with ease out of Group A. AC Milan is a team that should have no problems in Group C, though it will be interesting to see if Malaga can keep its early season momentum going in La Liga and get into the knockout stages of the Champions League as well.

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Group E should be fairly cut and dry, as Chelsea and Juventes should be head and shoulders above Shakhtar Donetsk and Nordsjaelland, both of which are fortunate just to be here at this stage of the competition. Those two will be fighting for the drop in spot to the Europa Cup in 2012-13. Group F features one team with absolutely no chance in Bate Borisov, and three teams that have to feel like they can all get into the next stage of the competition. Meanwhile, in Group G, Barcelona should get through in a romp over three teams that should all be ready to fight. Celtic has to think that this is a great chance to get through, though Benfica and Spartak Moskow aren’t going to go down easily.

However, all of the buzz is about Group D in the Champions League, which is easily the Group of Death. Real Madrid and Manchester City are the two highlights of the group, and one would think that they would both be able to get through to the second stage of the competition. That might be how it ultimately plays out, but Ajax is a team with a ton of experience at this level and a slew of Dutch championships, and Borussia Dortmund won the Bundesliga. It won’t be an easy group to handicap for sure, and this very well could be the second straight year in which Manchester City is left out in the cold and forced out of the group stages of the Champions League.

Posted in Champions League (UCL), Featured

2011 Champions League Predictions: Previewing the Champions League Odds

We are incredibly excited to see how the best teams in the world are all going to fare in the Champions League this year, with action in the group stages starting on Tuesday. Check out our Champions League predictions for each of the groups and how we think this tournament is going to pan out!

Group A
It’s fairly clear that this is the proverbial “Group of Death.” Manchester City got rather unlucky to be placed in this group, but the Citizens are still our choice to get through. They’re +115 favorites at 5Dimes Sportsbook to win Group A, but Bayern Munich isn’t all that far behind at +165. Villarreal, which finished fourth last year in the Spanish Primera, would like to think that it has a reasonable side, and in another group, perhaps it would have better fortune. Napoli, at +1040, really has very little shot at qualifying for the next round, as the two fixtures with the Azzuri are the ones that everyone expects to get points from. Napoli does play surprisingly solid defense, but this unit really doesn’t have the offensive firepower that the rest of these clubs do. Just surviving to tell about the Europa League would be quite the accomplishment, but we don’t see a team that Napoli is finishing in front of. We tend to think that both Man City (+1025) and Bayern Munich (+2000) have chances of actually winning the Champions League, but odds have it, neither will be around to see much more than the quarterfinals. A semifinal season for either would be quite the accomplishment.

Group B
Group B is a wide open group that any of the four teams can win. The favorite, of course, is Inter Milan, the traditional Italian power. At -130, this is one of the rare odds on favorites to win a group, but we aren’t so sure that it is justified. Going into Russia and Turkey are never easy tasks, and you can bet that both CSKA Moscow (+395) and Trabzonspor (+1775) are going to do everything that they can to make life a living hell on the Italians. However, the second qualifying spot is the most interesting in this group. Lille (+385) is the second favorite to make it out of this group, but it is clear that any of these three teams could find its way into the knockout rounds, just as it wouldn’t be all that surprising if any of the three don’t qualify for even the Europa League. Inter Milan (+3000) is the only team in this group that we feel has any chance whatsoever of beating the Champions League odds, and we’re fairly convinced that it doesn’t really stand much of a chance either.

Group C

Manchester United should be counting its lucky stars that it drew this type of a group. There is no doubt that the Red Devils, at -420, are going to win this ground, likely with one or two fixtures to spare. The toughest clash is going to be this first one at Benfica this week, but even a point in that match should clearly send United into the next round. At +695, the Red Devils have just a fantastic price on the odds to win the 2011 Champions League. The Portuguese side knows that it shouldn’t have all that much problem qualifying for the second round either. With FC Basel (+1950) and Otelul Galati (+3300) showing absolutely no signs of life whatsoever, Benfica should be able to coast into the knockout stages. It would be a tremendous shock for either the Swiss side or the Romanian side to stay in the Champions League longer than six matches. This is the first time that Otelul has been in this tournament, making just six appearances in European competitions before this.

Group D
Real Madrid really got a sweetheart draw as well, and the Spanish side is at -355 to win Group D. There will be no stopping this team, and we’d be shocked if Madrid ended up with anything less than perhaps 14 points. Olympique Lyon at +440 should be a qualifier for the second round unless Ajax Amsterdam (+885) can pull off some magical moments. Don’t be totally surprised by the Dutch side though, as this team is rich in history, and it’s go-for-broke offensive mentality can be a surprise to some of the best sides in the world. Ajax would be our dark horse pick to survive into Round 2. Dinamo Zagreb is one of the worst teams in this tournament in spite of the fact that it is a powerhouse in Croatia. This team is +100000 to win the Champions League and +2800 to win Group D. Just picking up a few points would be an accomplishment.

Group E
The fifth group in the Champions League could be a remotely interesting one. FC Chelsea Football Club is at -225 to win Group E and +1135 on the Chelsea odds to win the Champions League, but we just don’t see it happening. This is clearly no better than the third best team in England in our estimation, and even though it will get through this group without that many hassles, winning in the knockout rounds could be awfully difficult. The Belgian champs, Genk (+3000) are the overwhelming underdogs and shouldn’t be a challenge in the Champions League, while both Valencia (+325) and Bayer Leverkusen (+550) have legitimate chances of getting into the knockout rounds. The loser of this duo will likely become one of the favorites in the Europa League.

Group F
There is a ton of experience in Group F, and that experience could be bad, bad news for Arsenal. Of all of the favorites to win a group, the English side is the one that we are most afraid could legitimate be knocked into the Europa League… or worse… out of European competition all together. The Gunners are +135 co-favorites, and if they play in the UCL as they have in the Premier League thus far, they won’t survive this group. Olympiakos is at +1285, a price which might be worth investing in. Borussia Dortmund is carrying the German banner this year as a +135 co-favorite in Group E, and it might be a worthy play at +3800 to win this tournament. Marseille is the Wild Card of sorts in this, the second version of the “Group of Death,” but we could definitely see the French side getting into the knockout rounds.

Group G
There are going to be some happy teams in Group G, as this is the one group that doesn’t have any representatives from the biggest leagues in Europe. Here, we feature the defending Europa League champs, FC Porto, who is -110 to win Group G, but we also have APOEL (+2075), Shakhtar (+220), and Zenit St. Petersburg (+405). Russian soccer has definitely come quite a long ways over the past few years, and there is a realistic chance that this could be a rare trip into the knockout rounds for this country. The Donetsk side is the second favorite, but we know that it is a team that is there for the taking. Either way, save for Porto at +4000, there isn’t a team that is even worth thinking about winning the Champions League.

Group H
There won’t be an easier group to handicap than this one. Neither Plzen (+4700) nor BATE Borisov (+2700) have any chances whatsoever of getting through this group, and both are merely going to be fighting to perform in the knockout rounds of the Europa League in 2012. This is a group that belongs to both Barcelona (-515) and AC Milan (+425). It is just a formality that these two teams have to play six games in the group stages, and both should be considered serious, serious threats at +195 and +2800 respectively to win the Champions League.

Posted in Champions League (UCL), Europe, Featured


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