Wednesday, September 27

Paris Saint-Germain

Paris Saint-Germain, the favorites in Champions League Group F for the 2023/24 season, are facing high expectations. Despite their extravagant spending, the Parisians have consistently fallen short in Europe. Even last season, with star players like Messi, Neymar, and Mbappé, they were eliminated in the Round of 16 by Bayern Munich, who bested them with a 3-0 aggregate score.

The summer brought about an intriguing period for Paris, with the ongoing Mbappé saga casting uncertainty on his future. Nonetheless, he remains a PSG player for this season, defying expectations of an exit alongside the departures of notable names like Lionel Messi, Neymar Junior, Ramos and Wijnaldum.

In true PSG fashion, they have once again made an impressive thirteen signings, including Marco Asensio on a free transfer, Gonçalo Ramos on loan, and the acquisitions of Ousmane Dembélé for €45 million and Kolo Muani for €95 million.

The odds certainly reflect a belief in PSG’s potential. They stand at 14/1 to win the tournament, 11/10 to top Group F, and 8/11 to progress beyond the group stage.

Borussia Dortmund

Dortmund had a respectable season last year, although they didn’t secure any trophies. The German team finished second in the Bundesliga, narrowly missing out on the title by goal difference, despite having a chance to clinch it with a home victory on the final day of the season.

In the DFB Pokal, they made it to the quarter-finals, while their journey in the Champions League ended at the Round of 16 stage with a 2-1 aggregate defeat to Chelsea.

One major setback for Dortmund is the departure of Jude Bellingham, a world-class midfielder. The young English star was sold to Real Madrid for €103m during the summer, and his absence may prove challenging to fill, even for a club renowned for its exceptional scouting network.

During the summer transfer window, Dortmund made four signings: Ramy Bensebaini, Felix Nmecha, Marcel Sabitzer, and Niclas Füllkrug. Unfortunately, none of them are on par with Bellingham. Currently, Borussia Dortmund are priced at 40/1 to win the tournament, 9/2 to win Group F, and 5/4 to progress beyond the group stage.

AC Milan

AC Milan had a disappointing Serie A campaign last season, finishing in 4th place. However, their potential shone through in other competitions. They secured the runners-up position in the Supercoppa Italiana and reached the Champions League semi-finals, although they were eventually eliminated by their city rivals, Inter.

Despite losing Tonali to group rivals Newcastle and seeing several loaned players return to their parent clubs, I believe AC Milan’s squad will be stronger this season. The additions of Pulisic, Chukwueze, Loftus-Cheek, Okafor, Reijnders and Yunus Musah strike a good balance between youthful talent and valuable experience. Their improved squad had a great impact so far domestically, their prospects in Europe may be more challenging.

As it stands, AC Milan’s odds are currently set at 33/1 to win the tournament, 9/2 to emerge as winners of Group F, and 11/8 to progress beyond the group stage.

Newcastle United

Newcastle enjoyed an exceptional season, securing a remarkable fourth-place finish in the Premier League under Eddie Howe’s guidance. The team’s stunning ascent up the table, soaring from 11th in the previous season to 4th, left football fans astounded.

Their upcoming Champions League campaign promises to be their most challenging trial yet. It will be intriguing to witness Eddie Howe and the club’s approach to this competition, particularly given their sluggish start in this year’s Premier League.

In terms of departures, only Allan Saint-Maximin and Chris Wood left during the summer. Essentially, the core of their first-team squad from the 2022/2023 season remains intact, bar these two individuals.

While Newcastle made several acquisitions during the transfer window, the signings of Tonali, Barnes, Livramento, and Hall are set to bolster their squad significantly. The bookmakers have priced Newcastle at 28/1 to win the tournament, 9/4 to win Group F, and 8/11 to progress beyond the group stage.

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