Champions League Group E Betting Preview
With a terrific recent Champions League record Liverpool will be seen by many as banker material in Group E but I don’t think their passage into the last 16 will be entirely smooth and certainly won’t be getting stuck into the 1.73 available about Rafa Benitez’s side topping the section.
Liverpool wasted a terrific opportunity to strengthen their squad over the summer with question marks surrounding the other so-called members of the ‘Big Four’ in England and while they already look set to come up short domestically the Reds too appear vulnerable against Europe’s best.
The departure of Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid was a huge blow to Benitez and early season Premier League defeats to Tottenham and Aston Villa seemed to expose their frailties. New singing Alberto Aquilani is far from fully fit and with reinforcements thin on the ground Liverpool’s best XI simply doesn’t look good enough.
Winners in 2005 and runners-up two years later, the 5-time European Cup winner’s are still a force to be reckoned with but others certainly appear to have progressed past them and it is asking an awful lot of Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard to continually haul them out of trouble. >
Brilliant they both may be, Benitez only appears to have Dirk Kuyt elsewhere who carries a real goal threat and I remain far from convinced about the capabilities of both Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger defensively either.
While I still expect Liverpool to advance the 1.10 quoted by Paddy Power on them doing so is laughable. They’ve rarely excelled in the group stages before showing their class later on in this tournament and instead I like the look of the 3.50 on offer about Lyon claiming first place.
Claude Puel’s side, toppled in Ligue 1 last season for the first time in approaching a decade, have added quantity and quality to their ranks over the summer and, while even their hugely talented side of a few years back ultimately came up just short against the very best, this new generation are tipped to make their mark.
Lyon have never had any difficulties in causing problems for their opponents in the final third and with the signing of star striker Lisandro Lopez from FC Porto now have a prolific goal scorer who looks set to flourish for his new club. The arrivals of Brazilian midfielder Michel Bastos from Lille plus Aly Cissokho and Bafetimbi Gomis, the French striker, all excite and crucially they have held onto all their key men. >
Along with Marseille and Bordeaux I think the French clubs could be that bit stronger in the Champions League over the coming campaign and Lyon are tipped to hold off Serie A side Fiorentina and the English club.
Cesare Prandelli’s men won’t be lifting the trophy in Madrid in May but they will fancy their chances of causing an upset or two along the way and in Adrian Mutu and Alberto Gilardino certainly possess a pair of forwards capable of troubling even the best defences in the competition.
In addition to the more established names currently residing in Florence one to keep an eye on this season could well be Montenegrin forward Steven Jovetic although the loss of Felipe Melo to Juventus is a blow. Defensively Fiorentina don’t look strong enough either although providing they finish in third place, as predicted, could have a decent run in the newly formed Europa League.
Debrecen complete the line up in Group E but the Hungarian champions have little European pedigree of any note and are all but written off before a ball is kicked.
2pts Back Lyon To Win Champions League Group E @ 3.50 (Sky Bet)
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