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Champions League - Football: James Milton's outright tips

The 2022/23 Champions League group stage kicks off on 6th September and Racing Post football expert James Milton offers his best antepost bets for Europe's premier club competition.

Manchester City are 5/2 to be crowned champions of Europe for the first time and  the Citizens are one of four Premier League clubs rated as serious contenders to lift the trophy.

What:UEFA Champions League 2022/23
Where:Various, final at Ataturk Olympic Stadium, Istanbul, Turkey
When:Tuesday 6th September 2022 to Saturday 10th June 2023
How to watch:BT Sport
Odds:Man City 5/2, PSG 5/1, Liverpool 11/2, Bayern Munich 13/2, Real Madrid 9/1

Tottenham could upset Premier League big guns in Europe

Real Madrid won last season's Champions League in spectacular fashion, staging stunning comebacks against Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16, Chelsea in the quarter-finals and Manchester City in the semis.

Carlo Ancelotti's men completed a hat-trick of wins over English clubs with a 1-0 victory against Liverpool in the final but the Premier League big guns are expected to hit back in 2022/23.

Real are 9/1 to retain their title although veteran stars Karim Benzema and Luka Modric are another year older and key midfielder Casemiro has joined Manchester United.

England heads the Nationality of Winner market at 5/6 and last season City and Liverpool were widely regarded as the strongest teams in the continent.

However, Real's Champions League triumph demonstrated that there are no certainties in knockout football and the odds about Pep Guardiola's Citizens look short enough at this stage.

The Premier League champions are certainly the team to beat, especially with Erling Haaland sharpening up their attack, and the Norwegian striker, unlike many other top stars, will benefit from a winter break during the World Cup in Qatar.

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However, there must be scars from City's European disappointments in recent seasons, most notably last term when they led Real 5-3 on aggregate before conceding two injury-time goals in the second leg.

Liverpool have reached three of the last five finals, winning the tournament in 2018/19, but they have made a poor start in the Premier League and doubts over the form and fitness of their midfield mean they are easy to swerve at 11/2.

Chelsea are hot favourites to finish top of Group E, ahead of Italian champions AC Milan, RB Salzburg and Dinamo Zagreb, but Tottenham also received a decent draw and they appeal more at 14/1.

Spurs are expected to win Group D, in which they face Eintracht Frankfurt, Sporting and Marseille, and their quicksilver counter-attacking style makes them dangerous knockout opponents.

They beat City at home and away in the league last term, also holding Liverpool to two draws, and Antonio Conte's men relish playing against teams who try to attack them rather than defend in numbers.

Tottenham strengthened their squad significantly over the summer and, having reached the Champions League final in 2019, they look an appealing each-way selection in the outright betting and at 13/2 to be the furthest-progressing Premier League team.

Free-scoring Bayern Munich should overcome tough draw

PSG's band of superstars are yet to deliver Champions League glory and they are 5/1 to triumph in Istanbul next June.

Doubts remain over PSG's team spirit and appetite for the big occasion – they blew a 2-0 aggregate lead in the last 30 minutes of their last-16 second leg in 2021/22 – and Bayern Munich, who beat PSG in the 2020 final, could pose the biggest threat to the English clubs at 13/2.

Bayern cruised to a tenth consecutive Bundesliga title in 2021/22 and looked primed for a heavyweight Champions League semi-final against Liverpool before a shock 2-1 aggregate defeat to Villarreal in which they had 45 shots over the two legs.

They have a tricky group-stage draw against Barcelona, with Bayern legend Robert Lewandowski now leading the line, and Inter Milan but Julian Nagelsmann's side have won their first four domestic matches 5-3, 6-1, 2-0 and 7-0 and should be big players in the Champions League once again.

Sadio Mane has made a flying start to his career in Munich, Matthijs de Ligt is a classy addition to the defence, and youngster Jamal Musiala is improving rapidly meaning Bayern have to be respected by their English rivals. 

Top Goalscorer: Mane could be the main man for Munich

Real Madrid striker Benzema scored ten goals in the knockout stages of last season's Champions League to take top-scorer honours and the 7/1 chance should add to his tally in group games against RB Leipzig, Celtic and Shakhtar Donetsk.

City star Haaland, who scored 15 goals in just 13 Champions League appearances for Borussia Dortmund, is 7/2 favourite but Bayern's Mane, who scored 16 Premier League goals in his final season at Liverpool, looks a tempting each-way bet at 33/1.

He has claimed four goals in his first four games since arriving in Bavaria and can expect to get plenty of chances in a dominant Bayern team.

The Senegal star notched five times in last season's Champions League, racking up ten goals in 11 appearances in the 2017/18 edition, and he is worth backing to make the frame in 2022/23.

By James Milton

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