Beat the Bookmaker – Champions League Predictions

Match Previews Icon

Champions League Predictions

Click the links below to find an overview, in-depth analysis, team news and Champions League predictions for every match.

Wednesday 17th May 2023

About Our Champions League Predictions

When it comes to Champions League predictions, much like the Europa League things can get tricky. Unlike domestic league predictions, such as the Premier League, La Liga or Serie A, the Champions League can involve teams who don’t regularly play each other in both the group and knockout stages. This is compounded by the difficulty in comparing runs of form and attainment by teams in different leagues. Will a team who finishes fourth in the monied Premier League be stronger than the team who wins Portugal’s Primeira Liga or the Eredivisie? Without a pool of common opposition and intense TV coverage surrounding these leagues, comparisons and judgments can prove to be difficult.

So how do we navigate these issues? Firstly, and it seems simple enough, by keeping up to date with those teams in question. While nobody has the time to watch every football match around Europe, our analysts ensure that they are constantly watching highlight packages in addition to a couple of matches on the weekend from the biggest leagues – particularly involving those who are involved in European competitions. While a few insights can be gleaned by looking at the domestic form table and Champions League form for that season, those who don’t bother to watch the games will often fall into trouble, particularly at the start of a Champions League campaign which can be an unknown quantity. Teams selling and acquiring players plus progression and regression of players from season to season means that last season’s team isn’t necessarily the same as this season’s.

Secondly, it’s important not to get carried away with the well-worn trope that teams that have qualified from the richer leagues are automatically superior. While the chances of a fairytale run all the way to the final are admittedly far less than they were 30-40 years ago, when Steaua Bucharest, Porto, PSV Eindhoven and Red Star Belgrade all won the Champions League within six seasons from 1985-86 to 1990-91, we routinely see teams from Europe’s big leagues dropping into the Europa League playoff system or finishing dead last in the group stage. While there’s no denying the financial lure of the bigger leagues has distorted the competition, sometimes talented players remain in ‘smaller’ leagues for reasons other than financial recompense. Sometimes these talented players are on their way up, with clubs such as the Portuguese giants (Benfica, Porto, Sporting), the famous Dutch clubs (Ajax, PSV, Feyenoord) and the likes of Club Brugge, RB Salzburg and Shakhtar regularly performing well in European football, developing and selling talents as they progress.

Then we have the knockout format beyond the group stage, which requires a slightly different understanding of tactics. Namely, what might work week in and week out domestically doesn’t always translate well. With league games, the best clubs tend to adhere to a tactical blueprint, a system they’ve developed for a considerable period of time. With variance playing a part in the result of individual football matches because of missed chances, goals against the run of play etc. it’s important to acknowledge that teams who are usually far more expansive in their approach domestically tend to rein it in on the biggest stage. The reason is simple – a few points dropped here and there in the league often isn’t the end of the world, teams can pick themselves up, analyse the game and go from there. While the Champions League isn’t as brutal as one-game knockout competitions such as the World Cup and the regional national championships, teams are wary of players who carry the greater attacking threat, who can turn a game on its head in a blink of an eye. The quality of opposition in the knockout stages is almost always higher than facing mid-table or lower sides in the strongest divisions, and therefore the most successful sides have typically been those who can adapt tactically to what they’re up against.

As you can see, generating successful Champions League predictions, particularly in the knockout games, involves a different thought process. Although some prefer the week-in, week-out drama of the Premier League and Europe’s other major domestic leagues, it can be argued that the latter stages of the Champions League represents the pinnacle of global football, as these teams are better drilled and play together far more than at international level. While the World Cup is still the biggest showpiece event of the sport, the Champions League is where the higher standard of football is on offer.