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Free betting tips: Outright preview for the 2018/19 Champions League

Our best bets for the 2018/19 Champions League
Our best bets for the 2018/19 Champions League

The Champions League returns with Europe's elite battling for the trophy - Tom Carnduff picks his best outright bets.


Recommended Champions League bets

4pts Manchester City to win the Champions League at 6/1

4pts 1899 Hoffenheim to reach the quarter-finals at 13/2

2pt Kylian Mbappe to be top goalscorer at 16/1

1pt e.w. Vincent Aboubakar to be top goalscorer at 200/1 (1,2,3,4 1/4)

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


Winner

Manchester City are fancied to retain their title this season
Manchester City are fancied for European success

They were eliminated by Liverpool at the quarter-final stage last season, but Manchester City seem more than equipped to seal their first Champions League title with Pep Guardiola's guidance.

Despite European disappointment, City dominated the Premier League. They hit the 100-point mark and scored 106 goals in the process. Their start to the current season has shown that they are intent on bettering that this time around.

They are available at a best-price of 6/1 to lift the Champions League trophy, which does look good value despite the strength of Europe's elite.

Barcelona and Juventus are judged to be their closest rivals this time. Like City, both have an eye-catching attack that will put them in a good position.

As proved last season though, Guardiola's men look quality in every aspect. They have a goalkeeper in Ederson who can spread play from the back, perfect for the system they want to play, especially in this competition, and the defenders seem comfortable with the ball at their feet.

The midfield is the envy of most, if not all, sides and the strength City have in attack is alarming - as highlighted by the sheer number of goals scored last season.

We all love the fairytale stories that football brings. Unfortunately though, the Champions League is invariably won by a team towards the top of the market at the start.

Chelsea could potentially be the only exception back in 2011 - but the years since then have highlighted how the big-spending giants of European football will dominate.


Top goalscorer

PSG's Kylian Mbappe
PSG's Kylian Mbappe

The top goalscorer market seems wide open this season following Cristiano Ronaldo's departure for Juventus.

The Portugal forward dominated this area of the competition for the past six seasons, with just one of those seeing Lionel Messi match his tally.

That switch to the Serie A giants has seen Messi jump into favourite for the accolade, but there are a number of contenders who can rival the Barcelona superstar.

Past top tallies have varied from ten to 17, with double figures a necessity to stand any chance of finishing in first place.

The theory behind some of these selections is related to how far their team could progress. On that basis, Vincent Aboubakar is an the first choice at a huge price 200/1 (Ladbrokes, Coral).

The 26-year-old leads the line for Porto and he has already netted three in domestic competitions before the Champions League has got under way.

Porto find themselves in Group D, where they should come out on top against Galatasaray, Lokomotiv Moscow and Schalke.

Group stage goals could be key in this selection, but Porto's 13 goals in four Primeira Liga games already highlights their attacking intent.

The usual suspects may dominate favouritism in this market, but the Champions League does always throw up surprises.

Last season, Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Edin Dzeko and Wissam Ben Yedder all finished in the top-six. It's fair to say that none of those names would have been expected to challenge for the Golden Boot back in September 2017.

Looking at shorter-priced selections, Kylian Mbappe will be a feared forward amongst many defences in Europe after a sensational World Cup with France.

He's involved in PSG's mouth-watering attack containing Edinson Cavani, Angel Di Maria and Neymar and that, alongside strength in midfield, can help fire Paris to the latter stages of the competition.

The 19-year-old has four goals in Ligue 1 at the time of writing, rotating between the centre forward and right-wing role. Combine that with the 21 goals last season, despite his young age, and it's easy to see how he is a major contender here.


Group betting

Porto's Vincent Aboubakar
Porto's Vincent Aboubakar

As discussed above, Porto have a great chance of progression to the knockout stages, and could qualify top of their group.

They're by far the strongest team in Group D, and the fixture list has been quite kind to them with Schalke away the first game. The Bundesliga outfit are yet to win in the league this season.

Galatasaray aren't near the strength that they've boasted in the past, while Lokomotiv Moscow are always going to be outside chances in this competition.

Schalke are probably Porto's main rivals for success - but based on early showings they may not pose too much of a threat.

A best price of 13/8 on Porto to win Group D is solid given the contenders in this one.

In Group F, Manchester City seem a certainty to progress as winners. Lyon, Hoffenheim and Shakhtar don't have enough to mount a serious challenge to Guardiola's team.

Below that though, it is quite open for who reaches the round of 16. Lyon are fancied, but Hoffenheim is where my money is given the transformation of the club by head coach Julian Nagelsmann.

When Nagelsmann took over the club in February 2016, Hoffenheim were 17th in the Bundesliga standings, seven points from safety. They would go onto survive after winning half of the final 14 games under his guidance - that's despite being the youngest coach in the league's history at just 28.

The following season, they would finish fourth and wrap up a Champions League spot, before going onto finish third in 2017/18.

His leadership has seen him poached away from 1899 -he will join domestic rivals RB Leipzig from 2019 onwards.

They're a side on the up, despite a slow start, and will be eager to progress out of the group having being knocked out in the play-off round by Liverpool last season.

A best price of 23/10 is available on them to reach the round of 16, which they are more than capable of doing.


Knockout stages

Hoffenheim coach Julian Nagelsmann
Hoffenheim coach Julian Nagelsmann

If you're looking for an 'outsider' team who will probably go a bit further in the tournament, then Hoffenheim may be that side.

The Champions League always has at least one team that makes the last-eight who were widely unfancied at the start of the group stages.

Last season it was Liverpool, Sevilla and Roma. In 2016/17 it was Leicester, 2015/16 saw Wolfsburg reach the latter stages and the year before that it was Roma.

The competition structure does mean that you could avoid a tournament favourite up until the quarter-final stage.

There obviously is an element of luck of the draw. If Hoffenheim were to finish runners-up in Group F as expected, they could potentially have a tie with Atletico Madrid or Porto in the round of 16.

As with any game in this competition it will be tough. Although the German outfit will fancy their chances given their extraordinary rise in recent seasons.

Nagelsmann's departure may even play a part here. He's overseen a revolution at the club, from the depths of potential relegation to the heights of rubbing shoulders with the best on the continent.

It would be a fitting end to his spell if they could keep progressing in Europe.


Posted at 1310 BST on 18/09/18

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Most Read Football

1

Sporting Life Accumulator

With the Sporting Life Acca landing again last weekend, we've got four selections this week all to win enhanced to 40/1 with Sky Bet.

Sporting Life's Premier League preview package
2

Saturday's Premier League tips

Mark your card for Saturday's 3pm kick-offs in the Premier League with the best bets, Super 6 predictions and top stats for each game.

Listen to our latest Weekend Best Bets Podcast for the Sporting Life team's tips and insight3

OUT NOW: Weekend Best Bets Podcast

Check out our latest Podcast, as the Sporting Life team explain their best bets for the weekend, December 15-16.

Get all the football gossip from the National Papers4

Paper Talk: Chil out?

Ben Chilwell could be set to follow Riyad Mahrez to Manchester according to reports in Friday's papers.

Our best bets for Sheffield United v West Brom
5

Goals expected at Bramall Lane

Friday night football is set to be an entertaining one as Sheffield United welcome West Brom. Tom Carnduff has two best bets.

Football Tips

Our best bets for Sheffield United v West Brom

Goals expected at Bramall Lane

Friday night football is set to be an entertaining one as Sheffield United welcome West Brom. Tom Carnduff has two best bets.

The latest Sporting Life Price Boost

Sporting Life Price Boost

Friday's Sporting Life Price Boost comes from the stats market of the Sheffield United v West Brom match in the Sky Bet Championship.

Sporting Life Accumulator

With the Sporting Life Acca landing again last weekend, we've got four selections this week all to win enhanced to 40/1 with Sky Bet.