Bundesliga side Schalke, who the Blues stuffed 3-0 home and away last term, rate the biggest threat to the west Londoners finishing top, with Sporting Lisbon – who haven’t featured at this stage for six years – and Celtic’s Slovenian conquerors Maribor making up the Group G numbers.
Liverpool look to be playing for second place in Group B, having drawn 11/4 favourites (from 4/1) Real Madrid, although Brendan Rodgers’ men were cut a few points to 25/1 for a sixth title after being handed relatively easy assignments against Basel and Ludogorets.
Perennial group-stage qualifiers Arsenal are unmoved at 20/1, although coach Arsene Wenger would probably have preferred to avoid German powerhouses Borussia Dortmund, who the Gunners have now drawn in three of the last four campaigns.
Wenger’s charges lost at home to Jurgen Klopp’s BVB last term before beating them at the Westfalenstadion, so predicting how they will fare this time around will take more than a little skill. Galatasaray and Anderlecht complete the Group D line-up.
Premier League champions Manchester City finally made it through the group stage last term at the third attempt, but their European missions aren’t getting any easier, with 16/5 second favourites Bayern Munich drawn against Manuel Pellegrini’s expensively-assembled outfit.
Like Arsenal and Dortmund, City and Bayern traded away wins last season, although the latter were somewhat more comfortable in qualification, and Serie A giants Roma’s presence in Group E will hardly have the blue half of Manchester’s Chilean gaffer punching the air with delight.
Pellegrini’s side must also face CSKA Moscow for the second consecutive season, with the Citizens now 14/1 to win the Champions League for the first time this term, out from 10/1 pre-draw.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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