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UEFA Champions League odds, predictions: Group draw reaction, early bets

The Action Network's Nick Hennion shares his reaction to the Champions League group stage draw and his early group future plays.

FOR ACTION NETWORK USE ONLY. This photograph taken on August 25, 2022, shows a screen displaying the fixtures for the group stage of the UEFA Champions League football cup after the draw for the 2022/2023 UEFA Champions League football tournament in Istanbul. (Photo by OZAN KOSE / AFP) (Photo by OZAN KOSE/AFP via Getty Images)
FOR ACTION NETWORK USE ONLY. This photograph taken on August 25, 2022, shows a screen displaying the fixtures for the group stage of the UEFA Champions League football cup after the draw for the 2022/2023 UEFA Champions League football tournament in Istanbul. (Photo by OZAN KOSE / AFP) (Photo by OZAN KOSE/AFP via Getty Images)Read moreOZAN KOSE / AFP via Getty Images

It’s official - soccer bettors have the eight groups for the UEFA Champions League group stage.

Today in Istanbul — the site of the 2023 Champions League Final — UEFA drew the 32 participants into eight groups of four. Among the highlights are powers Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Inter Milan all featured in the same group, while defending champions Real Madrid drew Red Bull Leipzig, Celtic and Shakhtar Donetsk.

With all the groups drawn, here are my early group future plays for the first stage of the competition. Odds come courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook and are reflective at time of writing.

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Best bet #1 - PARLAY: Manchester City, Tottenham & Real Madrid all win the group (+151)

Ask these sides who they would have wanted to see before the draw began and even I think they couldn’t have dreamt up this scenario.

City are without a doubt the class of Group G and have an offense to bulldoze Borussia Dortmund, especially with former Dortmund striker Erling Haaland in the fold. Plus, Sevilla are a team to fade for me this Champions League season as they were a fraudulent squad in La Liga last season, and are frankly lucky to even be in this competition.

Then there’s Tottenham, another team on the receiving end of some fraudulent groupings. Marseille drastically over-performed expectations in Ligue 1 last season while Eintracht Frankfurt were a bottom-half side in the Bundesliga that just so happened to capture the Europa League. Just on managerial consideration alone, Spurs have a huge advantage with Antonio Conte. Add in a solid home-field advantage and I project Spurs as a -200 favorite to win this group (for reference - they’re currently -180).

Finally, there’s Real Madrid. To me, the only genuine threat to the defending champions is RB Leipzig, but I expect manager Domenico Tedesco’s team will struggle to keep up with Real’s attack. Plus, the Leipzig defense is too open to have a chance at winning the group while Celtic and Shakhtar pail in comparison.

Back this parlay at anything better than +135.

Best bet #2 - Inter Milan to win Group C (+700)

To me, this is purely a price play as you’re getting 7/1 odds on one of the top teams in all of Europe.

Last season, the Nerazzurri finished with the best expected goal differential in Serie A a season after winning the league while producing the best xGDiff, per fbref.com. Additionally, in last year’s group stage, Inter bossed eventual champions Real Madrid at home and proved they’re capable of hanging with traditional powerhouses.

Although I think it’s likely Bayern Munich eventually win this group — manager Julian Nagelsmann’s team has won their group each of the last four years — I have no interest in laying -125 in a group with this much quality. Plus, I still think the jury is out on this Barcelona grouping. I personally power-rate Inter ever-so-slightly ahead of Barcelona, so there’s implied value to be had based on the current pricing.

Finally, the fact remains Inter has the offensive capabilities to keep up with these two sides and if they can hold serve at home and steal points from one of these two sides on the road, I believe they win this group more times than their implied percentage (12.5 percent) indicates.

A lot has to go right for this to hit, but I’m willing to play it at +550 or better.

The Inquirer is not an online gambling operator, or a gambling site. We provide this information about sports betting for entertainment purposes only.