The 2019-20 Champions League group stage is well underway, with the third round of games being played this week. As we reach the halfway stage, it’s looking great for some of the early favourites, with Manchester City and Bayern Munich topping their respective groups. But with gaps starting to show between teams in each group, who looks as though they can cause a shock and progress to the knockout stages? Let’s take a look at some of the possible contenders and if you think one of the teams is worth an outside punt, check out the latest Champions League odds
When the draw was made, Group A looked like it would be a formality with 13-time winners Real Madrid and Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain the favourites to progress. The group has been anything but easy thus far and Belgian outfit Club Brugge sit in second place with two points from two games.
After a 0-0 draw in their opening fixture with Galatasaray, Brugge travelled to the Bernabéu and found themselves two goals in front at half time. Unfortunately for the Blue-Blacks, Real pegged them back and a sending off for Ruud Vormer allowed Casemiro to equalise from the resulting free kick. Had they held on, daylight would have separated Brugge from the chasing pack but instead, it’s a solitary point.
Brugge are on a six-game unbeaten streak in the Champions League and while next opponents PSG are a formidable force, with Los Blancos struggling to pick up points and Galatasaray failing to score goals, the Belgians must fancy their chances of progression.
As things stand in Group H, Valencia and Chelsea find themselves in a battle for the coveted runners-up place. Chelsea may be the favourites with the bookies to progress, but having already beaten Frank Lampard’s men, we believe Valencia have what it takes.
Los Ches didn’t have the best start to the season and sacked manager Marcelino after just three league games. They currently sit eighth in La Liga with three wins from their opening eight games. Despite the 3-0 hammering to Ajax in their last Champions League match, Albert Celades has turned around their domestic fortunes and this new-found confidence should transfer to the European stage too.
Valencia host Lille in matchday three and with the Ligue 1 club sitting bottom of the group with no points, it’s a chance for Celades’ side to strengthen their grip on progression to the knockout stages.
Red Bull Salzburg
Group E is something of an unknown entity, and looks to be anybody’s game. Red Bull Salzburg are currently unbeaten in the Austrian Bundesliga and sit third in their Champions League group. Level on points with Liverpool and just one point behind leaders Napoli, Salzburg host the Italians next and the result could well turn the tide of the group going into the second half of the stage.
Although Salzburg lost 4-3 to Liverpool in their last game, they’re scoring goals, having hammered Genk 6-2 in matchday one. While it’s a massive ask to overhaul the current holders, the Austrian side could well spring a surprise in the group – but don’t be surprised if it ends up being decided by head-to-head record. Fans probably wouldn’t like to be reminded of their Europa League round of 16 exit last season – after being 3-1 up from the first leg, they were knocked out by Napoli 4-3 on aggregate.