Vinicius and Rodrygo will need to meet expectations for Real Madrid (-134) to cruise through Group B. Photo via Instagram (@realmadrid).
- Spanish giants Real Madrid open the UEFA Champions League group stage as -134 favorites to top Group B
- Italian outfit Inter Milan (+190), German side Borussia Monchengladbach (+600) and Ukrainian underdog Shakhtar Donetsk (+2000) round out the group
- Read below to see how we think Group B will play out
Group B kicks off in Champions League play on Wednesday, when Real Madrid host Shakhtar and Inter Milan entertain Monchengladbach in a critical clash.
On paper, the group appears rather obvious: Real to win, Inter to advance, and Monchengladbach to battle Shakhtar for the third-place Europa League spot. With that said, let’s take a look at each play.
UEFA Champions League Group B Odds
|Team||Odds to Qualify||Odds to Win|
*All odds taken Oct. 17 from DraftKings
The Favorite: Real Madrid (-134)
It’s fair to look at Real Madrid’s European record and wonder why the club is only tipped at -134 to win the group.
Los Blancos have advanced from the group stage in every iteration of the UCL this century, and have averaged roughly 4.75 wins per six group stage matches in doing so.
Despite the fact Eden Hazard has largely been a bust since joining in June 2019 from Chelsea, this remains a Real squad with plenty of world-class talent: The old guard is still represented up front in Karim Benzema, but youngsters Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo also offer a vision of what the future might look like for Zidane’s squad.
A surprising 1-0 defeat at home against Cadiz on Friday is the only real blemish on Real’s record early in the 2020-21 season.
The back-to-back matches against Inter (Nov. 3 at home, Nov. 25 in Italy) will be critical if Los Blancos are to cash; a win in the first of those two matches should be enough, so long as Zidane’s squad takes care of business against the lower tier of Group B competition.
Outside Shot: Inter Milan (+190)
Make no mistake: Milan are a thrilling team to watch under Antonio Conte, whose roster boasts legitimate top-rate attackers in Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez but has a tendency to concede more goals than expected.
Inter’s four Serie A matches (record: 2-1-1) have featured 19 goals (avg: 4.75), so over bettors may find value on a matchday-to-matchday basis — especially against Shakhtar and Monchengladbach, as Conte is likely to be more defensive against group favorite Madrid.
There is enough here to get excited about — the attacking talent, a strong midfield anchored by Ivan Perisic and Christian Eriksen — but the back line is rather old with Aleksandar Kolarov (34) and Ashley Young (35) featuring regularly.
Serie A has returned at least somewhat to prominence in Europe in recent seasons, with the likes of Atalanta, Juventus and Napoli thriving, but Inter has failed to advance from the group stage — albeit with difficult opponents in Barcelona (twice), Dortmund and Tottenham — in each of the last two seasons.
Longshot: Borussia Monchengladbach (+600)
Marco Rose’s Monchengladbach are off to a rough start in the Bundesliga, with just five points from four matches following its fourth-place finish in 2019-20.
The reality is this is a longshot: It’s not an elite squad by the Bundesliga’s standard, let alone the UCL’s, and Monchengladbach has failed to advance from the group stage in three appearances in the competition this century.
There is an expectation the team will be reasonably compact and tough to break down, depending on the tactical setup Rose employs, but goals may be hard to come by.
Compounded by either minimal or no home field advantage at play in this Champions League campaign, it’s difficult to see Monchengladbach’s current squad having enough about it to pip one of Real or Inter to a Top-2 spot — let alone top the group.
Equal Longshot: Shakhtar Donetsk (+2000)
In truth, Shakhtar should probably have shorter odds than Monchengladbach to qualify out of Group B.
Luis Castro is a solid tactician enjoying his first foray outside of Portugal, and the Ukrainian outfit made a run to the Europa League semifinal last year in his first season as manager.
There is a strong core of 7-8 Brazilians, including club legend Taison, who are veterans of continental competition and will likely have enough about them to secure third place.
Carlos Verde is a sports media professional, with writing featured in a number of outlets, including the Epoch Times, Ottawa Life Magazine and Where is Football. He also served as a broadcast commentator for the United Soccer League’s Ottawa Fury FC.