CL Group B Qualifying odds

Champions League 2019/2020: To Qualify from Group B?

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Red Star Belgrade26.0026.00

Group B - Red Star Belgrade, Bayern Munich, Olympiakos, Tottenham Hotspur

Group B is one of this year’s Champions League’s more interesting. On face value, one might suppose it will be a straight race between German champions Bayern Munich and last season’s finalists Tottenham Hotspur for the top two spots. But in reality, their potential passage to the knockout phases could hardly be more daunting. Both face the daunting prospect of away trips to two of the most intimidating venues in Europe: the Karaiskakis and Rajko Mitic Stadiums, home to Olympiakos and Red Star Belgrade respectively.

Last season’s champions, Liverpool, can testify as to the volatile atmosphere at the home of Red Star Belgrade. The Serbian SuperLiga champions - Champions League winners as recently as 1991 - inflicted a 2-0 defeat on Liverpool (the team who, of course, would go on to win the competition) in the group stages of last season’s tournament. While this was the only victory in their European campaign, it stands as testament to the impact a stadium full of fanatical supporters can do for their team. This isn’t to say that Red Star are nothing more than a well-supported underdog – their squad boasts the likes of Richmond Boakye and Marko Marin. While they might not match the superstardom of their German and English Group B opponents, Red Star Belgrade will be looking to spring an upset or two once more in this season’s Champions League. Greek Superleague runners-up are of a similar mold. Although they were knocked out in the last 32 last season, Olympiakos were relatively impressive in Europe last season picking up wins against AC Milan and Burnley in the Europa League.

But while there Greek and Serbian rivals will prove fierce opposition, the favorites are surely still Tottenham Hotspur and Bayern Munich. Mauricio Pochetino’s Tottenham enjoyed a remarkable Champions League run last campaign which saw them see off two of the competition’s best teams in Manchester City and Ajax in the quarter-finals and semi-finals respectively. Ultimately, it ended in heartbreak as they were unable to find a way past Liverpool in the all-English final, but now that their players have got a taste for football in the latter stages of Europe’s premier competition, Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen and Son Heung-Min will be eager to get there once more. The only issue is the growing consensus that Mauricio Pochetino may have taken Spurs as far as he can. Although they have recruited well this summer, a far cry from the last few transfer windows in which they didn’t invest at all, it may be that Spur’s peaked during last season’s competition. With the heightened competition for top four places in the Premier League this season, it may well be that Spurs set the sights more on domestic matters this season. However, you’d still expect them to advance from group B.

Spurs’ main rivals are German champions Bayern Munich. While they were victorious in the Bundesliga, Niko Kovac’s men were far from their best last season and would probably have finished as runners-up had it not been for Borussia Dortmund’s late-season slump. The Bayern hierarchy’s response was to sure things up defensively and, towards this end, they’ve signed World Cup-winning centre-half Lucas Hernandez for a club-record fee. Philipe Coutinho was another incoming signing; while the Brazilian fell out of favour at Barcelona, his talent is not in doubt. He is a shrewd loan signing for the Bavarians club in their bid for a first Champions League trophy since 2013.