Champions League Groups Matchday 1 Preview: Feature matches, Form & Betting

The world’s finest soccer players will bid to lead their teams to victory when the Champions League group stage gets underway this week.

Fans can look forward to seeing the likes of Karim Benzema, Lionel Messi, Erling Haaland, Robert Lewandowski and Mohamed Salah in action. There will also be a smattering of Aussie stars: midfielder Aaron Mooy at Celtic, goalkeeper Maty Ryan at Copenhagen, Nikita Rukavytsya of Maccabi Haifa and Eintracht Frankfurt’s Ajdin Hrustic.

Read on to learn more about the Champions League group stage, the key games to look forward to and our top tips for Matchday 1.


When Does the Champions League Group Stage Start?

The Champions League group stage starts on Tuesday evening in Europe. Most of the games are held at 8pm UTC, which means that Australian soccer fans will need to wait until 5am on Wednesday morning to watch the action. There are another eight matches on Wednesday in Europe, which converts to Thursday morning AEST.


Who Are the Current Champions League Holders?

Real Madrid repeatedly defied the odds to win the Champions League last season. They were underdogs in every round of the knockout stage, but Los Blancos eliminated PSG, Chelsea and Manchester City before battling to a 1-0 win against Liverpool in the final.

Carlo Ancelotti’s men were outplayed for large swathes of their clashes with Chelsea and Man City, but they were extremely dogged, and Benzema’s goals fired them to glory. They will be formidable once again this time, but Premier League clubs may also be stronger than ever.

English teams spent a record £1.9 billion (A$3.23 billion) on new players during the transfer window that just slammed shut, which is more than La Liga, Serie A and the Bundesliga combined. The most noteworthy transfer was Haaland to Man City, making the Premier League champions the clear favourites this time around.


Champions League Groups 2022


Group A: Ajax, Liverpool, Napoli, Rangers

This looks like one of the most entertaining groups. Liverpool should saunter through to the knockout stage, but the battle for second place between Ajax, Liverpool and Rangers will be fascinating.


Group B: Porto, Atlético Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen, Club Brugge

This may well be the weakest of all eight Champions League groups. Atlético Madrid regularly reach the latter stages of the competition, so they look capable of qualifying for the Round of 16, while Portuguese champions Porto really should get the better of Bayer Leverkusen and Club Brugge.


Group C: Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Viktoria Plzeň

Lewandowski forced through a move from Bayern Munich to Barcelona this summer, so it will be interesting to see the legendary striker clash with his former teammates. Barça went for broke in the transfer market after securing a huge loan from Goldman Sachs, but they will have their work cut out against Bayern and a talented Inter Milan team.


Group D: Frankfurt, Tottenham, Sporting Lisbon, Marseille

This is another weak group. None of these teams won their domestic leagues last season, as Eintracht Frankfurt were 11th in the Bundesliga, Spurs were fourth in the EPL, Sporting Lisbon were second in the Primeira Liga and Marseille were runners-up in Ligue 1. Tottenham should cruise through this group, but the remaining teams look evenly matched.


Group E: AC Milan, Chelsea, Salzburg, Dinamo

Serie A champions AC Milan face a stern test of their mettle in Group E. Chelsea won this competition in 2021, and they have just embarked on a huge spending spree, so they look capable of finishing top. Milan would then have to slug it out with a young, talented Salzburg team for second-place, as Dinamo Zagreb could be out of their depth.


Group F: Real Madrid, RB Leipzig, Shakhtar, Celtic

Real Madrid have been handed a very gentle group stage draw. They are up against RB Leipzig, who finished fourth in the Bundesliga last season, Shakhtar Donetsk and Scottish champions Celtic. Shakhtar lost their Brazilian contingent after Russia invaded Ukraine earlier this year, so it will be difficult for them to compete, leaving Leipzig and Celtic to fight for the runner-up spot.


Group G: Man City, Sevilla, Borussia Dortmund, Copenhagen

There will also be a major reunion in Group G, where Haaland will come up against his former Dortmund teammates. City also signed Manuel Akanji from Dortmund this summer. Sevilla sold both centre-backs, and Copenhagen are a club of modest means, so it is easy to see Man City taking six wins from six games in this group.


Group H: PSG, Juventus, Benfica, Maccabi Haifa

PSG’s fabled attacking triumvirate of Messi, Kylian Mbappé and Neymar could blaze a trail of destruction across this group. Juventus are favoured to progress to the Round of 16, but Benfica could thwart them.


What Are The Feature Matches In Champions League Groups Matchday 1?

All 32 teams are in action during Matchday 1. These are the matches that stand out:


Sevilla vs. Man City

Sevilla had the best defensive record in La Liga last season, with just 30 goals conceded in 38 games. They then sold centre-backs Jules Koundé and Diego Carlos in the offseason, and the results have been predictably disastrous. Sevilla are winless after three games of the new season, without a clean sheet to their name, and that does not bode well for the arrival of a rampant Man City team led by Haaland, who has fired in nine goals in his first five Premier League games.


Celtic vs. Real Madrid

Australian manager Ange Postecoglou will lead his Celtic team into their first Champions League group stage game since 2018 this week. The Hoops could not ask for a more daunting opponent, as they will need to find a way to shackle Benzema and Vinícius Junior of Real Madrid, while Mooy will go up against the magnificent Luka Modrić if he starts.


PSG vs. Juventus

PSG have banged in 21 goals in their first five Ligue 1 games this season. Neymar, Mbappé and Messi are on fire, which is a little concerning for Juventus. The Bianconeri lost top defenders Giorgio Chiellini and Matthijs de Ligt after finishing fourth in Serie A last season, and they may struggle to cope with the pace and movement of Mbappé.


Inter Milan vs. Bayern Munich

Bayern Munich have shrugged off Lewandowski’s departure by scoring 16 times in their first four Bundesliga games. New signing Sadio Mané has hit the ground running, and Bayern have enough quality to win their group. Yet a trip to the San Siro is never easy, and they will need to contain Lautaro Martínez and Romelu Lukaku if they are to win this game.


Napoli vs. Liverpool

Liverpool will head to Naples to begin their Champions League campaign this week. The Reds were the clear favourites to win last season’s final, but they ran out of steam. They are now dealing with Mané’s departure, and manager Jurgen Klopp will hope to see Luis Díaz and Darwin Núñez step up to the plate in this game. Napoli sold their best defender, Kalidou Koulibaly, to Chelsea, so Liverpool have an excellent chance of winning this one.


Champions League Futures 

Man City are the clear favourites to win the Champions League after signing Haaland from Dortmund this summer. They were runners-up in 2021 and narrowly beaten semi-finalists last season, despite playing without a recognised striker. Haaland could be the missing piece in the puzzle.

Premier League rivals Liverpool are also in the mix, having been to three Champions League finals in the last five years. PSG’s star-studded squad will be dangerous, while heavyweights such as Bayern Munich and Real Madrid are also among the favourites.

Interesting long-shots including Chelsea and Atlético Madrid, as English and Spanish teams have dominated this competition over the past decade.


Team Champions League Winner Odds
Manchester City $3.25
Liverpool $6.5
PSG $6.5
Bayern Munich $7
Real Madrid $10
Tottenham Hotspur $16
Barcelona $17
Chelsea $19
Atlético Madrid $34
Juventus $41
Inter Milan $51
AC Milan $67
Borussia Dortmund $67
Ajax $101
RB Leipzig $101
Napoli $141
Porto $151
Salzburg $151
Bayer Leverkusen $201
Benfica $251
Eintracht Frankfurt $251
Glasgow Celtic $251
Marseille $251
Rangers $251
Sevilla $251
Sporting Lisbon $401
Club Brugge $501
FC Copenhagen $501
Shakhtar Donetsk $501

Champions League Groups Matchday 1 Tips 


Man City -1.0/-1.5 Asian Handicap vs. Sevilla @ $1.86

You cannot sell your two best defenders and expect to be competitive, so Sevilla are likely to struggle this season. They look ill-equipped to deal with Haaland, Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva et al, and a comfortable away win looks likely in this game.


Bayern Munich to beat Inter @ $1.87

Inter are a tough nut to crack, but Bayern Munich look extremely dynamic in attack right now, and they should edge this match at the San Siro.


Liverpool to beat Napoli @ $1.88

Liverpool cruised through the Champions League group stage with a 100% winning record last season. They should get the better of a Napoli team that look a little rudderless since selling Koulibaly.


**Odds and lines accurate at the time of writing but are subject to change.