It’s back. Europe’s premier club competition returns as the Champions League rolls into town once again with some intriguing-looking fixtures.
Last year’s winners Real Madrid are back and aim to win the prestigious trophy for an unprecedented fourth consecutive year.
Our football expert is here to run his eye over the best bets for Tuesday’s block of fixtures.
Inter Milan v Tottenham
Inter Milan host Spurs at the San Siro in one of the standout ties of the first round of fixtures. Perhaps surprisingly, Inter are playing their first Champions League match for seven years and it was the season before their hiatus begun that Gareth Bale scored a famous hat-trick in this fixture, which really put his name on the map.
Both sides are hugely different in terms of personnel these days and come into this on the back of disappointing results at the weekend.
Inter, whose fifth placed finish secured them a return to the competition, fell to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Parma on Saturday meaning they sit eighth in the league.
They have struggled at home so far this term, with Luciano Spalletti’s men managing just one point out of six at the San Siro.
After kicking the season off with a trio of victories, including a 3-0 triumph at Manchester United, Tottenham head off to Italy on a downer.
They were, in truth, very lucky to only be beaten by just a single goal at home to Liverpool on Saturday. The Reds let off their London opponents on numerous occasions and the score line massively flattered Mauricio Pochettino’s side.
It was the first time since the final two games of the 2015-16 season where Tottenham have lost back-to-back Premier League matches.
Based on recent evidence, it’s tricky to evaluate the state of each of these two sides. Recent results do suggest that goals can be expected though and therefore both teams to score at 8/11 looks a very solid bet, while over 2.5 goals at 21/20 also appeals.
Lucas Moura looked sharp against Liverpool and with the Brazillian clearly full of confidence at the moment, I advise backing him to score anytime at 10/3.
Liverpool v PSG
Two of the competition’s leading contenders go head-to-head at Anfield in the tie of gameweek one, with Liverpool aiming to banish the demons of last season’s final defeat in Kiev.
The omens so far this season are good for Jürgen Klopp’s side, who have made a faultless start in the Premier League. They were very impressive away to Tottenham at the weekend, and if it hadn’t been for some wastefulness from Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, it would have been a significantly bigger victory than the 2-1 scoreline.
They take on a Paris Saint-Germain side, who are still searching for the elusive prize, which has deserted them since the Qatari owners pumped their mega-bucks into the French club.
PSG have been targeting the Champions League for some time now, but despite their Ligue 1 dominance, they have failed to progress past the quarter-finals.
The last couple of failures have been particularly frustrating: tossing aside a massive lead against Barcelona in 2015/16, before exiting at the hands of Real Madrid at the same stage last year – much better is expected this time around.
They’ve definitely got a squad capable, with Kylian Mbappé becoming more and more impressive despite being just 19-years-old. Add to that the experience of Gigi Buffon and Neymar thriving in a central role, they have a seriously strong crux to go to war with.
With so much attacking quality on show, this could be a real cracker. Every one of PSG’s games so far this season has gone over the 2.5-goal mark, while 15 of their 16 Champions League matches over the last two campaigns have gone the same way, at an average of 4.19 per game.
If that wasn’t enough, Liverpool’s Champions League matches last season, including the play-off round, produced an average of 4.4 goals per game.
Liverpool have definitely tightened up their defence this term and Virgil van Dijk already looks well-worth his chunky transfer fee, so while goals can be expected, I fancy Liverpool to edge this one.