Barcelona looking for Juve revenge…and other key UCL storylines
Blaugrana host Allegri’s men at Camp Nou
The iconic Champions League theme will be blasting out from Madrid to Manchester once again this week, as European football’s heavyweights do battle in the Group Stage opener.
With new clubs in the mix, old rivalries reignited and some of the world’s top talents in action, there are a number of intriguing storylines on Matchday One. That includes the return of one of the competition’s most storied fixtures – Barcelona v Juventus.
Will Valverde’s men avenge last term’s exit?
After their sensational 6-1 defeat of Paris Saint-Germain in last season’s Round of 16, many felt that the Catalan club had their name on the trophy. However, Juve put paid to that in the Quarter-Final, breezing to a 3-0 aggregate win.
That result surprised many. Particularly the Italian giants’ clean sheet at Camp Nou – the only time any visiting side has shut Barca out on their home turf in the past 24 games to date.
The question ahead of this one is whether lightning will strike twice. Barca have netted nine times in their first three La Liga outings this term, including a 5-0 demolition of Espanyol last time out. As for Max Allegri’s men, they’ve also won three on the trot, keeping two clean sheets in the process.
Neither have faced a particularly strong test so far this season, but with Barca as short as 4/6 for victory, the value looks to be on Juventus taking something in this clash.
Top Tip: Double Chance: Juventus or Draw @ 6/5
Can newboys Leipzig build on domestic success?
Last season’s surprise package in the Bundesliga, RB Leipzig finished their first top-tier campaign in second place. Die Bullen were actually top of the table in December, going 13 games unbeaten before their form eventually dipped a little.
As well as holding onto star men Naby Keita and Timo Werner this summer, Sporting Director Ralf Rangnick has also made some superb acquisitions this summer. They include midfield maestro Kevin Kampl and Paris Saint-Germain prodigy Jean-Kevin Augustin.
They face AS Monaco on opening day. Six months ago, this would have been a very tough test. However, the French club’s top talents have been picked off during the transfer window, with Bernardo Silva, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Benjamin Mendy and Kylian Mbappe all exiting Stade Louis II.
That means Coral News are tipping hosts Leipzig for victory in their first ever UCL game, and the in-form Werner (three goals in two games) could well do the damage.
Top Tip: Werner to Score and Leipzig to Win @ 13/5
Are Man City set to end Euro away woes?
Manchester City impressed at the Etihad in Europe last term, beating the likes of Barcelona (2-0) and Borussia Monchengladbach (4-1) in this competition. However, their away form doesn’t make for such happy reading, as far as Pep Guardiola and co. are concerned.
The Sky Blues didn’t win any of their four away games in the competition proper, including a 4-0 mauling at Camp Nou and a 3-1 defeat away to Monaco in the Round of 16, which spelled the end of City’s European hopes for the season.
However, with the club looking to end their travel troubles, will Feyenoord’s De Kuip be the venue for a long-awaited European away win? Or could the Citizens succumb to defeat, as Manchester United did in Rotterdam last season?
That’s up for debate, but one thing which does look nailed-on is goals. De Stadionclub have eight from their first three league games. The Citizens have 10 from their opening four. This is certainly a game which will excite the neutral.
Top Tip: Over 3.5 Goals @ 27/20
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing