With outright #BetYourWay requests available for the Champions League, our writers reveal some of the things they think will happen this season.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to score fewer than 10.5 Champions League goals between them
It would be foolish to suggest either of these players’ careers are on the downturn. They’re not.
But both Ronaldo and Messi look like they could be in for disappointing seasons in Europe.
Messi is, at the time of writing, yet to feature for Barcelona this season after suffering a calf injury in pre-season.
He is an extraordinary footballer, but it is unreasonable to expect him to be at his brilliant best immediately after getting back into the side.
Barcelona have also been given a tricky draw alongside Dortmund and Inter in Group F and, after a below-par start to the season, could struggle.
Ronaldo, meanwhile, netted just six Champions League goals for Juventus last season – his lowest haul in eight years.
Manchester City to get knocked out in the semi-finals
For the second successive season, City are the outright favourites to win the Champions League.
That is opposable for a club whose only semi-final appearance in the last six years came under their previous manager, Manuel Pellegrini, and whose current boss, Pep Guardiola, hasn’t made it beyond the last four in seven attempts.
Throw in the fact that they are already five points behind Liverpool in the Premier League – the biggest ever gap between first and second place after just five games – and it’s easy to imagine another underwhelming European campaign.
Even if City choose to prioritise the Champions League, then questions will persist about their depth in defence and the durability of their most important player, Kevin De Bruyne, not to mention their manager’s habit of overthinking his approach to knockout ties.
It’s fair to assume that Guardiola will improve on two quarter-final defeats and a last-16 exit to Monaco since arriving at the Etihad, but true progression in this competition tends to happen slowly.
His last try with Barcelona ended in the last four, as did all three of his efforts with Bayern Munich, and that feels like the most likely outcome once again.
PSG or Real Madrid to be knocked out of Group A
These two are routinely on the verge of crisis, so it would be mad to have too much confidence in either of them.
PSG have made a dodgy start to the season, which hardly inspires confidence that they are about to improve their ropey Champions League record. They got through the group last season, but dropped points in three of their six matches.
Real Madrid were fallible last season, too. They were beaten home and away by CSKA Moscow in the groups, before being hammered by Ajax at the Bernabeu.
But I wouldn’t make this call without having some faith in their opponents. Galatasaray signed Steven Nzonzi, Jean Michael Seri, Radamel Falcao and several others over the summer, so they should prove tough opposition, particularly at home.
Providing they can do the double over Club Brugge, the Turkish side are capable of knocking out one of the favourites for the competition.
Liverpool to reach a third consecutive final
Liverpool have been among the best two teams in Europe for the past two seasons and there’s no reason to think they won’t be against this campaign.
Jurgen Klopp’s side have enjoyed a perfect start to their Premier League season, winning five of five, and such strong domestic form should translate to Europe.
The Reds also have the momentum of a sixth European Cup behind them and should romp through a group containing Napoli, Genk and Red Bull Salzburg.
A favourable draw in the latter stages would obviously help, but they proved last season that they can beat whoever is put in front of them with knockout wins over Bayern Munich and Barcelona.
Just two teams have reached three consecutive Champions League finals before – AC Milan in the 90s and Real Madrid more recently.
Liverpool could well join that elite group come May 30, 2020.
All four English teams to top their groups
Expect the four Premier League teams to prove their domination of this competition last year was no fluke.
Manchester City have, as ever, received a kind draw and should cruise to top spot in Group C ahead of Atalanta, Dinamo Zagreb and Shakhtar.
Napoli and Red Bull Salzburg should make things more difficult for Liverpool in Group E, but the Reds advanced last year after a more difficult draw and look an even better side now.
Chelsea are the weakest of the four English teams in this competition, there is no clear favourite in their group.
Valencia have been forced into a change of manager, Ajax have lost several key players from last year’s side that reached the semi-finals, and Lille, while exciting, are hard to trust given their lack of experience.
Tottenham have arguably the toughest task after being drawn alongside Bayern in Group B, but the German champions haven’t been at their best so far this season.
Spurs topped a group that included Real Madrid and Dortmund two years ago, and are capable of doing so again this year if they can take a least a point from a December trip to the Allianz Arena.
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