By Lee Dover | Champions League betting previews
Match Day One of the Champions League continues tonight when the reigning champions step up to the plate.
Chelsea v Juventus (Sky Sports 2, 7:45pm)
Chosen One who? Roberto Di Matteo was the only manager fans were talking about around Stamford Bridge last season after the Italian maestro led the Blues to their first Champions League trophy. However, Chelsea face a tough start to their defence of the illustrious crown, when they face off against a Juventus team boasting a 42-game unbeaten streak, and counting.
The European Cup holders are priced at 6/5 to start the 2012/13 Champions League campaign with a victory, though 12/5 for Juventus to knock Chelsea off their glorious perch is a tempting bet. Tasty odds of 9/4 are also on offer for the match to finish in a stalemate, which would mean Paddy’s Money-Back Special on the draw clicks.
Manchester United v Galatasaray (Sky Sports 4, 7:45pm)
Manchester United are enjoying their 17th successive Champions League campaign and must be feeling confident as they await the arrival of Galatasaray to Old Trafford. The Turkish club have never won in England, having drawn three and lost four games.
It is little wonder then why the Red Devils are odds-on favourites at 1/3 to beat Galatasaray, while the Turkish outfit are wide outsiders at 9/1. However, the draw at 4/1 may be worth a few quid as a longshot bet.
Celtic v Benfica (Sky Sports 3, 7:45pm)
Celtic are back in the Champions League, following a four-year absence from the prestigious competition. It is as though the Scottish giants are being punished for their truancy, after being handed a home fixture against last season’s Champions League quarter-finalists Benfica.
However, Neil Lennon will be hoping to get some points on the board for Celtic in this fixture, especially since Barcelona are waiting in the wings. The Scottish club are decent value at 5/2 for the victory, while the price of 23/20 for a Benfica away win must also be thought over with care.
Barcelona v Spartak Moscow (Sky Sports 4, 7:45pm)
The Champions League would just not be the same without Barcelona. The Spanish club have won the European Cup in three of the last seven seasons, though this is the first time that the Catalan giants are being led into battle on such a grand stage by Tito Vilanova.
Pre-match jitters could work in Spartak Moscow’s favour, making the 18/1 shot for the Russians to bag a shock victory a little tempting. Not keen on such an earth-shattering result? Then check out the price of 9/1 for a draw at the Nou Camp. A Barcelona victory is a neat and tidy 1/9 shot, if you’re not up for a surprise scoreline.
Bayern Munich v Valencia (Sky Sports 4, 7:45pm)
Rematches are often met with plenty of excitement, with the match between Bayern Munich and Valencia giving off memories of the 2001 Champions League final. In that tie, the Germans clawed their way to victory after a butt-clenching penalty shootout.
There will be no extra time in this match though, so the price of 10/3 for a draw has to be considered good value. Bayern Munich are 4/9 favourites to clinch another win over Valencia, while the Spaniards are on offer at a tempting 13/2.
Sporting Braga v CFR Cluj (Sky Sports 4, 7:45pm)
As well as the glamour and the drama, the Champions League is also a delightful occasion for creating football firsts. This is the case in the match between Sporting Braga and CFR Cluj, seeing as though the two clubs have never met a side from their rival’s country.
Sporting Braga are 1/2 odds-on favourites to clinch the bragging rights for the Portuguese, while CFR Cluj are priced at 6/1 to take three points back to Romania.
Lille v BATE Borisov (Sky Sports 4, 7:45pm)
It has been a long summer for both Lille and BATE Borisov. The former needed extra time in order to cast FC Kobenhavn aside in the Champions League qualifiers, while the Belarusian champions scored twice in added time against FK Vardar to secure their passage to the group stages.
As a result, there is little to split the value between the 4/9 price on offer for a Lille victory, the odds of 15/2 for a BATE Borisov away win and the 3/1 slated in for a tense draw.
Shakhtar Donetsk v FC Nordsjaelland (Sky Sports 4, 7:45pm)
Fans of reigning Danish Superliga champions FC Nordsjaelland will be chomping at the bit to sample their first ever European match, though Ukrainian double winners FC Shakhtar Donetsk could well spoil the party.
Shakhtar are a slim 1/4 to brush aside their Danish rivals, though the fact that the club has not won any of their last four Champions League home games has to give FC Nordsjaelland some hope. As such, the price of 12/1 for a shock away win or the odds of 9/2 for a stalemate cannot be totally ruled out.