Champions League Group G betting preview
On 19 September the first of Group G’s matches in the Champions League will kick off. The group which contains Celtic, Spartak Moscow, Benfica and Barcelona, is sure to prove one of the most tightly fought of this years Champions League competition. Check out all the free bets available for this Group.
Benfica who qualified after finishing 2nd in the Portugese Primeira Liga, will be looking to repeat the successes of last year’s Champions League campaign, when they advanced to a quarter final tie against eventual winners Chelsea. Whilst the squad’s names may not initially jump off the page, Benfica have undoubted quality. Pablo Aimar and Maxi Pereira both have over 50 appearances for Argentina and Uruguay respectively. Meanwhile Oscar Cardozo has led the club’s goal scoring charts in recent campaigns and last year finished with 20 goals from 29 league appearances, he was also a key contributor to Benfica’s 2009/10 European campaign when he provided a respectable 10 goals from only 13 appearances. At the back Benfica are equally solid where stalwart towering defender and captain Luisao, who holds 43 international caps for Brazil, has proved a rock at the heart of the Benfican defence for the past decade.
From the other side of the Iberian peninsular Barcelona will be hoping that new manager Tito Villanova can step up and match the reputation of departing manager Pepe Guardiola. Villanova, previously Guardiola’s number two, will be aiming to emulate his former boss’s impressive record in the competition which saw Barcelona crowned Champions of Europe in both 2008/09 and 2010/11. Barca’s pantheon of stars will no doubt shine at this years competition, so vast are their resources and so skilled are their entire squad that even a heavy injury crisis would not threaten to impact their success at this stage. The quality of the Barcelona roster is so overwhelming that even former Arsenal talisman Cesc Fabregas has struggled to secure a starting spot in the first team.
Scottish giants Celtic will be relishing their return to the Champions league group stage after three years of failing to qualify. The prize and television money will no doubt be a welcome contribution to the coffers of ‘the Bhoys’, whose most recent figures exposed a £7million debt. Monetary troubles had partly forced the £6million sale of Ki Sung Yeung to Swansea City and Celtic will have to work hard to make up for the loss of such a promising player. Celtic certainly don’t have the same level of resources to match the undoubted favourites of the group Barcelona, and it would be reasonable to assume they might struggle under the expectation that they perform well at this stage of the competition.
Whilst it may seem that Celtic may have a difficult task on their hand this isnothing compared to the undoubted minnows of the group Spartak Moscow. The Russian outfit finished 2nd in last year’s Russian Premier League but have struggled to find form this season. In their last seven games they’ve only come away with wins from two, suffering four away losses. Their success will depend largely on the talents of prolific Brazillian striker Welliton, who has an impressive record of 57 goals in 102 appearances for Spartak. With other notable players such as former Everton winger Diniyar Bilyaletdinov and former Celtic midfielder Aiden McGeady, Spartak are certainly not to be underestimated. However with the undoubted worldclass quality of the group’s opposition Spartak will certainly have to work hard to make any successful push for progression to the next stage.
Clearly Barcelona are favourites to top the group. With so much skill at their disposal it would be a tragedy for them to fail to top the group, let alone fail to qualify. The interesting fight will be that for the second qualification place for the next stage. Celtic might once have been staunch favourites to run away with it, but the reputation of the Scottish club with a European pedigree is beginning to look unstable. Benfica have a very talented squad so they might well prove an understated power in the group, one would expect them to stake a bold claim for a qualification spot. Meanwhile Spartak will have an enormous challenge in this group of giants. However Western European clubs always seem to struggle when playing teams in the ‘east’ such as the Greek or Russian clubs in the competition, so maybe Spartak will be able to work this pressure in their home fixtures to their advantage.
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