Champions League: Outright preview with winner, top goalscorer and free betting tips

Our outright preview for the 2020/21 Champions League preview

Tom Carnduff picked out the winner of the Champions League last season and he has four bets for the 2020/21 edition.

Recommended bets

2pts e.w. PSG to win the Champions League at 11/1 (1/2 1,2)

1pt e.w. Ansu Fati to finish as the top goalscorer at 66/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4)

1pt e.w. Leroy Sane to finish as the top goalscorer at 66/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4)

2pts Paris St Germain Winner, RB Leipzig Runner Up in Group H at 10/3

For details of advised bookmakers and each-way terms, visit our transparent tipping record

Just two months after the 2019/20 campaign came to a conclusion with Bayern Munich lifting the trophy in Portugal, the Champions League group stages get under way with Europe's elite battling to become the kings of the continent.

Bayern, Sporting Life's 14/1 tip for success last season, take favouritism and a much shorter 4/1 price across the board this time around. They are joined by Manchester City, who once again go in at a short price with 9/2 the best available with a couple of bookmakers.

We may as well copy the section across from last season on City's fortunes in this competition because it followed a similar path. Pep Guardiola, the great manager, but also the great over-thinker and that came to the forefront of discussion as they were dumped out by Lyon at the quarter-finals stage.

We are left with the dilemma of just how much value City actually represent but, based on recent years, 4/1 just isn't enough to tempt us into backing them over the coming months. They, as always, have a favourable group which they should win comfortably but it's the knockout stages where it usually all comes undone.

If it was a straight shootout between deciding if Bayern will retain their crown or if City will finally get their hands on the trophy, given how they are both the same price, you're siding with the Bundesliga giants every time.

Bayern Munich lift the Champions League trophy after beating PSG 1-0 in the final

While Bayern could go deep in the tournament again this season, the real value comes in backing the team who they defeated to lift the trophy in Lisbon - that being French outfit PSG.

The big-spending club have dominated domestically but always fallen short in the Champions League. We could perhaps put them in the same category as City because of this, but their involvement in the final last season shows how they are closing in; it feels like a matter of when not if.

In Thomas Tuchel, they seem to have a head coach who can efficiently utilise a squad with talent throughout. We look towards the forward line, as that is the eye-catching element of this team, and that will be a key part of their success. However, it's a squad with balance.

There's no denying that it is a team with some arrogance about it; having PSG as a Champions League winner won't sit well with many. Dare we say that some almost celebrated their failure in that final. Everyone has an opinion on the club but it can't be denied that this team is one of the best in Europe.

PSG's forward four of Kylian Mbappe, Mauro Icardi, Neymar and Julian Draxler will bring goals in any contest. In fact, Neymar and Mbappe are among the front runners to win the competition's Golden Boot award - but more on that a little later.

Marquinhos scores in the Champions League semi-final v RB Leipzig

They are in what could be referred to as the 'Group of Death' in Group H as they line up alongside Manchester United and RB Leipzig. However, the reality is that they should end up as winners with Leipzig coming in as the runners-up; Manchester United are a club with a reputation but not the quality on the pitch.

Finishing as the winners creates a more preferable route to the final when you consider who the runners-up could be elsewhere. Lazio, Atalanta, Porto and Inter could all be round-of-16 opponents; all would provide little issue for the French champions.

After that is a mystery and it comes down to who plays the best stuff and has the best squad at their disposal. Granted, last season's competition was completely different to normal but it gave us the insight that PSG are progressing in the direction they want to go in; albeit perhaps a little slower than they would have hoped.

It's a surprise to see last season's finalists at such a big price of 11/1. This isn't a side who fluked their way to the latter stages; this is a side who have invested heavily in top players to get them to this point. Last season they fell short but they look ready now.

Then there is the activity during the transfer window. The permanent addition of Icardi is a positive step but they carried out a couple of smart pieces of business. Rafinha's arrival for a bargain price of €3m from Barcelona provides additional bodies in midfield while Moise Kean could flourish in a new environment.

PSG reached the final last season

The forward hasn't quite done it at Everton but we sometimes forget how long it can take a player to adjust to a new club, let alone in a new country. A change after just a season at Goodison Park isn't ideal but there's a real chance we could see him replicate his Juventus form, where he had a similar role to the one we're likely to see here.

In 2018/19, he established himself as the back-up option from the bench at Juve and netted six goals in 13 Serie A appearances. While we talk about PSG's impressive attack there may be some doubts about the depth of it; the addition of Kean addresses that.

This isn't to say that he'll go on and be a world beater this season and he'll finish as the top goalscorer but a couple of goals from the bench could be crucial for this PSG side and their hopes of success in the competition; we saw that last season with late goals from substitutes.

The only 'major' departures from the French capital in the summer were Thomas Meunier and Thiago Silva. Edinson Cavani also left the club, but his hit and miss involvement shows why PSG allowed him to leave on a free. His role has now been filled by Kean.

Bayern, City and Liverpool are all more fancied for success in the odds with the trio 6/1 or lower. At near double odds of 11/1, PSG represent the best value in the outright winner market.

Ansu Fati celebrates a goal against Valencia

The PSG forwards may well end up towards the top of the goalscoring charts but there are two names in the market, both priced up at 66/1, who both represent fantastic value given their position on the pitch and the teams they play for.

The first of which is Barcelona's Ansu Fati. The youngster has caught the eye following a number of positive performances for his side. Despite being just 17, he already has two senior caps for Spain and grabbed a goal and assist in the Nations League victory over Ukraine.

His 2020/21 campaign has started with three goals in three LaLiga games and he has carried over his great form from the previous season. Fati netted seven league goals in 2019/20, but he only started eleven games; that is where the majority of his goals came from.

He has nailed down a starting spot this season though and that should continue as the campaign progresses. A forward four of Lionel Messi, Fati, Antoine Griezmann and Philippe Coutinho will lead Barca through this competition under the guidance of new manager Ronald Koeman.

Barcelona's embarrassment was well documented last season as they were hammered 8-2 by eventual winners Bayern at the quarter-final stage. Problems remain in terms of the harmony off the pitch but on it they should have a bit more direction under Koeman.

Ansu Fati: Barcelona starlet celebrates after scoring his first goal for Spain - aged 17 years and 311 days

Koeman clearly has faith in Fati to start games on a regular basis and so far the young winger is repaying that with goals. He'll be on the left-side of this attack so doesn't really have to worry about anyone coming in and taking his spot.

Goalscorer bets are always helped by a comfortable group. For Barcelona, they will have to battle for top spot as they come up against Juventus but their qualification looks fairly secure already; Dynamo Kyiv and Ferencvaros are the other two teams who make up Group G.

We don't necessarily have to worry about Fati grabbing goals against Juventus, although one or two would help, but the performances against the other two will be key. If the winger can net a few in those group clashes Barca are expected to win comfortably then he will propel himself up the goalscoring charts.

Robert Lewandowski won this award last season with a total of 15 goals scored, which is a huge figure considering the latter stages became one-legged ties, but six goals secured joint-fourth; although five players shared that honour. Seven or eight goals will likely get a player into the each-way places in this market.

At 66/1, it's an ask for Fati to top the charts but his early season form, and his showings last season, suggest that he can make a good go of it. Erling Haaland was the surprise package last season while Serge Gnabry, a winger, finished third. Even the each-way value pays out at odds of better than 16/1.

Bayern Munich's Leroy Sane

Elsewhere, rivalling Fati in the 66/1 area is Leroy Sane. The former Manchester City man finally completed a much anticipated move to Bayern Munich in the summer.

As mentioned previously, Bayern are the favourites and we can expect them to go far again this season. They have a well-balanced squad but the addition of Sane gives them further quality in the wide positions. Looking at their attack, there is every chance they finish as the top scorers in the competition.

Sane settled in quickly at the Allianz Arena with one goal and two assists in their 8-0 hammering of Schalke on opening weekend. He has missed a few games through injury, although Hansi Flick is hopeful that he will return after the international break.

Even if he does miss the first game of the group stage, that is against Atletico Madrid and there's every chance that could end up being a low-scoring affair. If he is back and finds the net, that is a bonus.

Like Barcelona and Fati, we're looking towards the other group-stage games as where the majority of the goals will come from. Joining Bayern and Atletico in Group A are Red Bull Salzburg and Lokomotiv Moscow; we can expect comfortable victories for Bayern in all four contests.

Leroy Sane celebrates his goal against Schalke

Based on what we've seen from Flick's team, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Bayern hit ten across the two games against Lokomotiv and maybe even Salzburg. Those contests will likely see Sane on the scoresheet, although Lewandowski will always be the main man.

The issue with backing Bayern's striker is that he's as short as 7/2 with some bookmakers to finish as the top goalscorer. The way that the Bavarian side play suits a striker like Lewandowski but it also benefits the other attacking players as they find the net too.

Gnabry finishing as third-highest scorer last season with nine goals demonstrates that. During his time at City, Sane proved that he can be an effective attacking option when it comes to goals; his 2018/19 campaign brought 16 goals and 18 assists across all competitions while there we 14 and 19 the season before.

He'll be eager to bounce back from the 2019/20 season which saw him sidelined through injury. Bayern and Sane seem a perfect match for each other with plenty of goals expected. If he can punish those other clubs in Group A then he has every chance of kicking on and finishing towards the top of the charts.

This Bayern team are the most entertaining to watch in Europe, although a 4-1 defeat at Hoffenheim shows that they aren't invincible after all. They might not retain their crown, but Sane can provide some consolation by being among the leading scorers.

Dani Olmo scores against Atletico Madrid

Looking back at the groups, Group H certainly looks like it'll provide the most entertainment. PSG, RB Leipzig and Manchester United will be battling it out for the top two spots, and while PSG are expected to win the group, it's between Leipzig and United for second spot.

Leipzig are, surprisingly, the outsiders of the three despite their involvement in the semi-finals last season. As mentioned previously, United are a club with a reputation but when it comes to current quality they are severely lacking. We are, once again, discussing their lack of activity following a transfer window.

The pursuit of Jadon Sancho played out in spectacularly bad fashion and they were left gambling on Facundo Pellistri to provide the answers. Cavani arrived, but on big wages and in a position that doesn't really need improvement. Their deadline day truly reflected the panic stations cliche.

For Leipzig, they may have lost Timo Werner to Chelsea but they actually look in a better position following a positive window. Alexander Sorloth, who has bounced back from a poor spell at Palace with a prolific season at Trabzonspor, has arrived in the forward positions alongside Justin Kluivert from Roma.

Angelino is back on loan alongside a couple of other interesting temporary additions. We also have to compare the two head coaches with Julian Nagelsmann offering so much more than Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. At a price of 10/3 with Sky Bet, the PSG/RB Leipzig straight forecast looks good value in the group stage betting which offers little elsewhere.

Odds correct at 1430 BST (08/10/20)

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