Champions League draw: Chelsea odds drop as Barcelona remain favourites

Reigning champions Bayern Munich have been drawn with Manchester City while Real Madrid will play Serie A winners Juventus in their group

Thursday’s Champions League group stage draw threw up plenty of mouth-watering fixtures – pitting some top teams in tough groups while others had the odds in their favour.
Reigning champions Bayern Munich are 7/2 (4.50) to retain the trophy and second favourites overall. Pep Guardiola’s new side were drawn alongside Russian champions CSKA Moscow, Czech qualifiers Viktoria Plzen and English giants Manchester City, who are available with BetVictor at 12/1 (13.0).

The runners-up last season, Borussia Dortmund, were drawn in Group F with the ever present, 33/1 (34.0) Arsenal, Rafa Benitez’s 66/1 (67.0) Napoli and France’s 200/1 (201.0) outsiders Olympique de Marseille.

All four teams in that group have seen their odds inflate in what seems to have emerged as the ‘Group of Death’, although there are some excellent clashes elsewhere in the European draw.

Barcelona, favourites with BetVictor at 3/1 (4.0) have been drawn with familiar foes in Group H – Celtic, who defeated them away from home in the same stage last year, and AC Milan, who they beat in the 2012-13 last 16 round – and Eredivisie winners Ajax.

Another excellent Spanish-Italian match-up is in Group B, where Real Madrid will face back-to-back Scudetto holders Juventus. Carlo Ancelotti’s men are 11/2 (6.50) to go one step further after three consecutive semi-final appearances, while the Bianconeri are worth an outside punt at 16/1 (17.0). Copenhagen and Galatasaray will be hoping to upset what people expect to be the top two.

Manchester United’s group might not stand out as staggeringly hard but Shakhtar Donetsk helped knock out 2011-12 European champions Chelsea out a year ago, Sociedad defeated experienced European competitors Olympique Lyonnais in the play-off, while Bayer Leverkusen impressed in the Bundesliga last campaign.

The Red Devils saw no change of odds at 14/1 (15.0) following the draw, though Chelsea’s value has dropped from 12/1 (13.0) to 10/1 (11.0). following what many are considering an easier draw in the last 32.

Jose Mourinho will target his third Champions League win back at Stamford Bridge but will need to navigate his side around Schalke, Basel and Steaua Bucharest.

Another team who have seen their odds fall – from 16/1 (17.0) to 14/1 (15.0) are Paris Saint-Germain. The Ligue 1 victors will play Europa League runners-up Benfica, Greek giants Olympiakos and Belgian side Anderlecht, looking to go beyond last year’s quarter-final appearance.

The final group is one of the less glamorous of the eight and sees Porto, Atletico Madrid, Zenit St Petersburg and Austria Vienna face off ahead of 2014.

Groups in full

Group A: Man Utd, Shakhtar, Leverkusen, Real Sociedad
Group B: Real Madrid, Juventus, Galatasaray, Copenhagen
Group C: Benfica, PSG, Olympiakos, Anderlecht
Group D: Bayern, CSKA, Man City,  Viktoria Plzen

Group E: Chelsea, Schalke, Basel, Steaua Bucharest
Group F: Arsenal, Marseille, Dortmund, Napoli
Group G: Porto, Atletico, Zenit, Austria Wien
Group H: Barcelona, AC Milan, Ajax, Celtic

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