The 2013/2014 finalists Atletico Madrid lead the way in Group C and it is hardly surprising they have been made odds-on favourites to progress from the first place. Everything suggests the likes of Benfica and Galatasaray will be vying for the second qualifying berth, whereas newcomers FC Astana are likely to see this season as a great learning experience with a view to returning to the elite competition next term. And with all four sides famous for hot atmosphere in their home games, there will be plenty of fireworks in Group C matches.
Market: Group Betting
Tip: Atletico Madrid to Win Group C
Odds: 4/9 @ bet365
Over the past few years, Atletico Madrid have established themselves as one of Europe’s top sides and they have become very consistent under Diego Simeone. Los Colchoneros appear even stronger than last term, having signed a number of quality footballers in the summer, while at the same time keeping hold of their star players and we seriously doubt they will have too many problems finishing top of Group C, despite the fact that Benfica and Galatasaray are sides that should not be taken for granted. But, all things considered, Atletico simply have too much quality and experience not to win this group.
Market: Group Qualification
Tip: Galatasaray to Qualify from Group C
Odds: 1/1 @ bet365
As we have already mentioned, Benfica and Galatasaray are widely expected to fight for the second qualifying berth and we really don’t understand why the Portuguese side have been made favourites by the bookies. While the Eagles stayed without proven goalscorer Lima, they have failed to recruit a world-class footballer this summer, and that could end up costing them dearly. Galatasaray, on the other hand, kept hold of all key players apart from Melo and Telles, whereas they added Lukas Podolski and Lionel Carole to their ranks, and with Sneijder, Inan and Burak Yilmaz already in their ranks, we are backing them to qualify for the next stage.
Galatasaray v Atletico Madrid
Market: Total Goals
Tip: Under 2.5 goals
Odds: 8/15 @ bet365
As much as Galatasaray would like to attack their more illustrious opponents from the off and prove everyone they can match even the best of them in Europe, they will be all too aware of the fact that Atletico Madrid can be lethal on the counterattack. That means that Hamza Hamzaoglu will be forced to adopt a cautious approach and with los Colchoneros always careful on the road, we do expect to see a low-scoring match. It is also important to note that mere three goals were scored in Atletico’s last five Champions League matches, so there is every chance the trend will continue at Turk Telekom Arena.
Benfica v FC Astana
Odds: 1/2 @ bet365
We do expect Benfica to struggle in an attempt to progress to the next stage, but they should make the most of two matches against weak Astana, a team that have absolutely no experience of playing at this level. The side from Kazakhstan were quite fortunate against both Helsinki and APOEL, and they will have much bigger fish to fry at Estadio da Luz. The Eagles will want to show their opponents what it’s like for visiting teams to be playing at this great venue and chances are the home side will be a goal or two in front even before the half-time break.
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