The big question in UEFA Champions League Group B this year season will probably be if Swiss Super League champs FC Basel can make a run at English Premier League entrant Liverpool for the second place in the group with defending European champions and perennial giants Real Madrid probably winning five of its six games in this stage and easily rolling to the Knockout Stage.
Bulgarian A Group champions Ludogorets (+8000 To Win Group, Sky Bet) will be making their Group Stage debut in the Champions League and really have to consider themselves lucky and almost blessed after escaping in a controversial penalty kick win over Steaua Bucharest in the qualifying round thanks to a bizarre game in which the Bulgarians ended with an outfield player (defender Cosmin Moti) in goal. Fear and Loathing in Razgrad to be sure brother.
Oddsmakers have obviously made Real Madrid overwhelming favorites on the Soccer odds (-350, Sky Bet) to win Group B with Liverpool (+275) following and Basel (+2500, 25/1) a really distant third. So, the race for the second spot and handicapping any potential weakness by Liverpool may be one of the best and only real angles to consider for a futures bet here, but, like almost all Champions League groups this season, one has to be creative to find any perceived value. But still, respect to anyone with the common sense and bankroll to be smart and able enough to wager $350 to win $10o on Los Blancos to win Group B outright. There is always beauty is such simplicity. And quite often reward.
The Rich Get Richer and Richer and Richer
Real Madrid already had a roster good enough to be European champions last season but Carlo Ancelotti and the club apparently are in the same buying mode that Barcelona and Chelsea and Manchester United and some others seem to be in this summer transfer window as it went out and signed Toni Kroos (Bayern Munich), James Rodríguez (AS Monaco), Javier Hernandez (Manchester United) and goalkeeper Keylor Navas (Levante).
And with guys like Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Sergio Ramos, Luka Modric, Isco, Jesé and on and on and on, this club will be in the Champions League mix for at least the next decade. The Madridistas are second choice here in Las Vegas to repeat this year (7/2, LVH SuperBook) with Liverpool at 25/1 and both FC Basel and Ludogorets falling into the “Field” pool of teams bet (25/1) which, for the uninitiated, is simply a collection of all other teams not listed as individual bets in the Futures market. Field bets quite often end up in the garbage can or the loss column and are more of a ride than a chance at a payday in my eyes.
Liverpool Have Never Lost or Been Scored On By Madrid
And that will probably come to an abrupt end on October 22 at Anfield when the best team on the planet invades Merseyside on matchday 3—a reprise of the 1981 European Champion Clubs’ Cup, won by the Reds, 1-0. Liverpool is returning to UEFA Champions League play for the first time since 2008-09 when the Reds made it all the way to the quarterfinals, shutting out Madrid twice along the way (1-0, 4-0). But that was then and this is now.
Liverpool’s success will have to come via playmaker Raheem Sterling and striker Daniel Sturridge and if this team gets in a groove, it can expect to advance past this stage but the loss of Luis Suárez is so huge and the Reds could have really used the talented Uruguayan striker in this Champions League. And, at +275 (Sky Bet), to win the group, there seems to be no real value in taking a shot at Liverpool to finish ahead of Real Madrid. A fairer number would probably be around +450 to +500.
What About FC Basel and Ludogorets?
Storybook Ludogorets are an appealing 25/1 (BetVictor) to qualify from Group B—twice as high as another competitor shown so always shop for the best odds if you can—and, are one of two clubs making their Champions League debut, along with Swedish Allsvenskan champions Malmö FF. And it would be easy to want to back a bet on The Eagles from Razgrad until one reads that manager Georgi Dermendzhiev is still undecided between Ivan Cvorovic or Superman fill-in Moti for the opener against Liverpool at Anfield (September 16) with regular goalkeeper Vlado Stoyanov still suspended.
FC Basel is used to Champions League play and is always a feisty draw for opponents but to ask the RotBlau to go in to Santiago Bernabéu or Anfield and come away with even a single point is a lot like asking a fox to go into the chicken coop and and steal an egg and not have the chickens make any noise. Good luck. Basel will likely have to beat or earn a Draw with Liverpool at St.-Jakob Park on October 1 and then beat or tie Ludogorets in Sofia (October 22) on matchday 3 and then win at home in Basel on matchday 4 (November 4) to give themselves that decent chance to advance. Following?
Betting Approaches Few And Far Between Here
These Group Stages are not the greatest place for the wise and select gambler to try to make some money on their Soccer picks, be it in the Futures markets or even in the games which quite often have astronomically-priced favorites. The best way to go about betting here is to find some kind of creative angle to have a reality and a price you can live with until a potential December payday. And nobody wants to make a bet in August or September and then have to wait until near-Christmas to have a result unless it’s going to be a winner. At least that’s the theory.
If a team like Real Sociedad can knock off the European champions Real Madrid, as it did 4-2 at home on Sunday, well, then maybe anything goes and Liverpool can win the tournament or maybe Basel or even Ludogorets can get out of this group in second place. But we all saw predictable the World Cup ended up being in the closing rounds. Best to bet on the good teams bubba.
The dual forecast odds for Group B have offerings like Real Madrid/Basel (+500, Bet365), but, upon closer scrutiny, a 5/1 payoff for this particular proposition just doesn’t seem worth a shot. Instead, the straight forecast odds offer a Real Madrid/Liverpool (-275, bet365) exact 1-2 finish bet at a fair enough price to actually be able to say one squeezed something out of what looks like a sea of virtual longshots. Between that and the Real Madrid -350 (Sky Bet) ‘To Win The Group’ offering, there really isn’t much to see here.
Soccer Prediction: Real Madrid wins group, Liverpool second
Free Soccer Pick: Real Madrid/Liverpool Straight Forecast (-275, BetVictor)
Group B Schedule
September 16: Real Madrid vs. FC Basel, Liverpool vs. Ludogorets
October 1: FC Basel vs. Liverpool, Ludogorets vs. Real Madrid
October 22: Ludogorets vs. FC Basel, Liverpool vs. Real Madrid
November 4: Real Madrid vs. Liverpool, FC Basel vs. Ludogorets
November 26: Ludogorets vs. Liverpool, FC Basel vs. Real Madrid
December 9: Liverpool vs. FC Basel, Real Madrid vs. Ludogorets