This is one of the simplest groups you will find in the Champions League. Considering the draw obtained, which is one of the easiest paths to the round of 16, I think there is a big play to be made on Barcelona.
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The last two Champions Leagues that Barcelona have participated in have been played in two incredibly difficult groups. Two years ago, Xavi took charge midway through the Champions League group stage when Barcelona had already lost to Benfica and Bayern, so he couldn’t save it.
Last year they had incredible bad luck losing the first meeting against Bayern where they dominated the first hour of the match, then Bayern scored on a counterattack and that’s all she wrote .
Both matches against Inter were very evenly matched and they simply ended up on the wrong side of the spread.
I like the signings they made this summer bringing in Gundogan, Romeu and Martinez to give them more solidity and depth in their midfield spine. They also just signed Cancelo and Joao Felix on loan, giving them a lot more depth.
More than anything, I know Barcelona have run ridiculously well, but they were one of the best defensive teams in the world last season, allowing just 0.87 npxG per 90 minutes in La Liga, which is the second league The hardest.
Last Barcelona they were +1.11 xGD per 90 minutes. This is the second highest mark behind City in Europe’s top five leagues.
There really is no weakness in this team and they have the depth to go far in the Champions League.
I consider them the fourth best team in the world behind Manchester City, Arsenal and Bayern Munich. I think they should be around 10/1, rather than 16/1.
Porto should also qualify for the knockout stages after putting up excellent underlying numbers in Portugal. They retained many key players this summer, with their only major loss being Otavio to the Saudi League.
Compared to years past, this version of Shakhtar is miles ahead in terms of talent and they only had an xGD of +1.03 in the Ukrainian Premier League last season.
Royal Antwerp is really lucky to be here. Belgium is one of the few leagues that has playoffs, so Antwerp was able to make the playoffs and win the championship on the final day. They eliminated AEK Athens in the final qualifying round of the Champions League, but lost to xG BY by a combined score of 4.08 to 1.98.
Champions League Picks
The price to pay for Barcelona to win this group is a bit too high and there is nothing else of value in this group. However, I think there is good value on Barcelona at +1600 to win the Champions League.
Choice: Barcelona winner of the Champions League (+1600 via FanDuel)
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