This appears to be one of the most evenly matched groups in this year’s competition given that there are no clear favourites for the first position. Belgian side Gent do not seem capable of matching the other three teams in the group, but the likes of Valencia, Lyon and Zenit are likely to be involved in a highly entertaining battle for two qualifying berths. And while the Russians probably have the best team on paper, one should not forget that Stadion Petrovskij outfit rarely live up to the billing in Europe’s elite competition.
Market: Group Betting
Tip: Valencia to Win Group H
Odds: 10/11 @ bet365
The La Liga giants are back after a one-year absence and they will have plenty of motives to give their best in the group stage. Los Che have again made some very good signings, while keeping hold of all key men and the big strength in depth should also help secure the first position in Group H. Pipping the likes of Lyon and Zenit to the first place will be no easy task, but having successfully matches teams like Barcelona and Real Madrid in La Liga, the Mestalla outfit are clearly in the best position to progress from the top of the group.
Market: Group Qualification
Tip: Lyon to Qualify from Group H
Odds: 3/1 @ bet365
Even if we are backing Lyon to qualify alongside Valencia, we do believe that Zenit have more quality in the squad, but their past performances in the competition are the main reason why we are siding with les Gones. With coach Andre-Villas Boas also nearing the move away from the club, the Russians will be lacking in good atmosphere as well, whereas Lyon boast considerable CL experience and can always turn to players like Mathieu Valbuena, Alexandre Lacazette and Maxime Gonalons when things get tricky.
Gent v Lyon
Market: Match Result
Tip: Away win
Odds: 11/8 @ bet365
KAA Gent secured automatic CL berth by lifting the league trophy, but the team clearly lack the quality to play at this level. The club signed a number of new players this summer, but the problem is they also lack Champions League experience, and four draws in last five league games cannot give the hosts much needed confidence ahead of their first European match of the season. Lyon were also far from impressive in the opening exchanges, but they know how to play these games and certainly have the experienced needed to win at Ghelamco Arena.
Valencia v Zenit
Market: Match Result
Tip: Home win
Odds: 19/20 @ bet365
Valencia are slowly raising their form after a slow start to the new season, and they have also had several important players back to the side. The late arrival of Aymen Abdennour will make the back line even stronger, while the likes of Alcacer, Negredo and Feghouli should prove a major hassle for Zenit defenders. The Russians are going through a very rough patch at the moment, having lost two of last four games and I cannot see them getting anything from Mestalla despite boasting a star-studded squad.
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