Champions League Predictions: 2 Best Bets for Matchday 1

min read
Manchester City's Phil Foden, right, celebrates with his teammate Erling Haaland after scoring his side's sixth goal and his personal hat trick during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester City and Manchester United at Etihad stadium in Manchester, England, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022.
(Rui Vieira/AP Photo)
Nick Hennion @nickhennion Sep 19, 2023, 12:44 PM
  • Why I’m fading Manchester United at Bayern Munich.
  • Will Manchester City cover a lofty spread vs. Red Star Belgrade?
  • Read on for full analysis & best bets.

On Tuesday afternoon, the UEFA Champions League returns to action. 

The first 16 matches of the group stage are spread across Tuesday and Wednesday, highlighted by Bayern Munich vs. Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain vs. Borussia Dortmund. 

Elsewhere, 2023 finalists Manchester City and Inter Milan face Red Star Belgrade and Real Sociedad, respectively. 

But which markets offer bettors the best value? Below are my two best bets for the first matchday. 

Champions League odds are reflective at time of writing. 

Champions League Matchday 1 Betting Predictions

Bayern Munich Spread (-1.5, +120) vs. Manchester United

This could get ugly fast for Manchester United against one of Europe’s best sides. 

Bayern Munich enter this fixture with an extra day of rest. Even though they drew Bayer Leverkusen on Friday, they won the non-penalty expected goals battle 2.13 to 1.29. 

Conversely, United played horribly at home against Brighton. Manager Erik ten Hag’s side lost 3-1 and the expected goals battle 1.7 to 0.96, per fotmob.com. 

United finished a markedly worse road side last season, posting a -0.22 expected goal differential per 90 minutes. In road games against fellow top-six sides, United posted an 0-5-0 (W-L-D) record with a -2.08 expected goal differential. 

Given Bayern recorded a +1.65 xGDiff per 90 minutes in the Bundesliga last season, I expect they can boat race their Matchday 1 opponents. 

I personally bet Bayern Munich -1 at -115, but -1.5 is worth a play at plus-money. 

Manchester City Spread (-3.5, +120) vs. Red Star Belgrade

Put simply: Red Star has zero chance in this match. 

Even though the roster is different in Manchester, Pep Guardiola has historically blown out weak European teams. 

Last season against FC Copenhagen at home, City won 5-0 and earned a 4.3 to 0.4 expected goals win, per fbref.com. In their last four Champions League fixtures against teams outside the top-five UEFA coefficients, City recorded a +3.28 expected goal differential per 90 minutes. 

Let’s also remember this team posted some impressive results against good teams. In last year’s home round of 16 leg against German side RB Leipzig, City won 7-0, including 4.2 to 0.6 on expected goals. 

In Red Star’s last trip to the Champions League, they struggled against top-tier sides. 

Across four head-to-head matches against Bayern Munich and Tottenham, the Serbian side posted a -3.45 expected goal differential per 90 minutes. 

Like the above play, I took City -3 to protect against 3-0, but City -3.5 works at +105 or better.

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About the Author

Nick Hennion

Read More @nickhennion

Nick Hennion is a senior content writer for BetMGM. His previous stops include VSiN, NBC Sports, The Action Network and Forbes Betting. He owns a bachelor's degree from Syracuse University and a master's degree from Northwestern University.

Nick Hennion is a senior content writer for BetMGM. His previous stops include VSiN, NBC Sports, The Action Network and Forbes Betting. He owns a bachelor's degree from Syracuse University and a master's degree from Northwestern University.