Two powerhouses will be vying for top spot in this group in an intriguing tussle between sides who have spent millions to win the Champions League: Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain.
They are favourites to win the group at 1/2 and have, of course, bolstered their ranks with Luis Suarez, Jeremy Matthieu, Ivan Rakitic, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Claudio Bravo and Thomas Vermaelen racking up a cool €155 of receipts. They've sold 80 million's worth too and their intention is clear after seeing Atletico win the domestic title, Real Madrid beat them to the Copa del Rey and then seeing both Madrid sides contest the Champions League final, their bitter rivals finally achieve La Decima and to cap it all Sevilla won the Europa League. Barcelona were left trophy-less and staring straight down the barrel of slipping off their mantel. The World Cup didn't help either, as Spain fell face first off theirs, leaving a cloud over some of the Barca superstars.
Since winning the Champions League in 2011, Barcelona have been semi finalists twice and last season had their worst campaign since 2006/07. They won their group but an alarming away trend continued which has only seen them win four matches on the road in 13, with six defeats in that run. Ajax beat them last season at the group stage and that was with ten men for the second half.
Paris St Germain
You may already be sensing my opposition to the Spanish giants winning this group and so on to PSG. I don't think they have the depth to go all the way in the tournament but I do think they can take top spot here. Since their fortunes were transformed, they haven't lost a home game in the Champions League, scoring 24 goals in 10 matches. Their away form is good too, losing just three in 10. They drew twice with Barcelona going out on away goals in 2012/13 and were ousted in the same method by Chelsea last time out. They can count themselves a little unlucky.
It's the defence that is the issue. In that run of 10 home matches, they have conceded in all but two of them and in the knockout phases you must keep clean sheets. With Cavani, Lavezzi and the one and only Zlatan Ibrahimovich goals should never be far away. They signed David Luiz from Chelsea to facilitate a Brazilian centre back partnership and then Brazil disintegrated at their own World Cup, with Luiz made the fall guy. He's a strong character and if he can strike up a new working relationship with Silva and Marquinhos, that is the key to a prolonged spell in Europe this season. Either way I think they will outscore most and pip Barca to top spot at 5/2 soccer odds.
The other two sides in this group really are making up the numbers with Ajax perennial qualifiers and regular group stage departees too. They have exited after the six matches in each of the last four UEFA Champions League competitions. They are a weaker team this year in my opinion, Frank de Boer has let Daley Blind and Siem de Jong go and although they have talented players, they don't have the consistency to buck their recent trend of leaving the competition by December.
They are the final team in the group and it would be a miracle if they matched their run to the quarter finals of a few years ago. They had a much easier group then and a better side. One man for your notebooks when they play Ajax at home is Irish striker Cillian Sheridan. He's been around the block, but has scored three goals in qualifying for the group stage and may be a decent price come game day.
In summary PSG to win the group at 5/2 is my main soccer pick here. I'm counting on them improving and the Barca superstars not quite clicking!