UEFA Champions League 2019: Latest Odds, Expert Predictions, Matchday One Schedule

European soccer's showpiece event kicks off on Tuesday, as the 28th edition of the Champions League gets underway.

Having won the tournament for the first time since 2005 last season, Liverpool is looking to become only the second team after Real Madrid to defend the title.

The Spanish giants are the only outfit to win the tournament in consecutive seasons since it was rebranded from European Cup to Champions League and Liverpool have all it takes to follow suit.

Under Jurgen Klopp, the Reds have developed into an almost flawless attacking machine, scoring goals for fun and tearing opponents apart with near-relentless pressing.

Liverpool's biggest challenge will arguably come from an opponent the Reds know all too well, as Manchester City looks to translate its domestic dominance onto the continental stage.

Aside from the Premier League duo, Barcelona and Real Madrid will be in the mix, although both have started the season relatively slowly.

Juventus, meanwhile, will be hoping Cristiano Ronaldo can help it to a first Champions League title since 1996, and Bayern Munich will be looking to return to the summit of European soccer for the first time in six seasons.

Here's what some experts expect from the Champions League this season.

Liverpool, UEFA Champions League
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson lifts the UEFA Champions League trophy after the final against Tottenham Hotspur FC at Estadio Metropolitano on June 1 in Madrid, Spain. VI Images/Getty

James Pearce—The Athletic

Liverpool's triumph in Madrid would have never happened had the Reds not scrambled out of the group on the final game last season.

This year, their group features and Napoli, Salzburg and Genk, and Pearce expects the defending champions to progress comfortably.

"They [Liverpool] could have had Real Madrid, Inter Milan and Leipzig for company. There could have been grueling trips to Donetsk or Moscow," he explained.

"It's certainly a much easier prospect than a year ago when Liverpool were pitted against Napoli, Paris Saint-Germain and Red Star Belgrade. This is no Group of Death. This time around it shouldn't come down to a nervy final matchday scramble for qualification."

Nick AmesThe Guardian

Ames believes that if Juventus is to end a 23-year wait for a Champions League triumph, merging new arrivals with the existing core will be crucial.

"Ronaldo will be as important as ever to Juve, for whom a slightly curious summer's business has seen Aaron Ramsey and Adrien Rabiot arrive on free transfers and Matthijs de Ligt make his high-profile move from Ajax. Gianluigi Buffon is also back for one last crack but they may still have to rely on Gonzalo Higuaín."

Julien Laurens—ESPN

For all its sustained dominance in France, Paris Saint-Germain has experienced nothing but disappointment in Europe recently—and Laurens doesn't expect the trend to change.

"The Parisians can dream about lifting the trophy. Yet that's all it will be in the end. Realistically, glory in Europe will once more elude Paris this year."

Neymar, PSG, UEFA Champions League
Neymar during the French Ligue 1 match between Paris Saint-Germain and RC Strasbourg at Parc des Princes stadium on September 14 in Paris, France. Jean Catuffe/Getty

Jonathan Wilson—The Guardian

The Champions League might feature the elite of European soccer, but Wilson argues the group stages are now largely meaningless due to the disparity between teams.

"Last season only one side managed to eliminate a club with a higher annual revenue in the group stage. The year before there were four sides eliminated by teams with lower annual revenues and before that just one again. Of the last 48 teams to reach the knockout stages, only six did not follow a remorseless financial logic."

Miguel Delaney—The Independent

For all their qualities, Delaney suggests expecting one of Liverpool and Manchester City to lift the trophy is far from a foregone conclusion.

"Although Liverpool and City are currently so much better than the rest of the super-clubs, it may not mean that much. A single bounce of a ball can render it all irrelevant," he wrote.

"It is this uncontrollable chaos, especially when sparked by collisions of the biggest clubs, that has made the Champions League the most spectacular of sports competitions over the last few years."

Avi CreditorSports Illustrated

Aside from the usual suspects, Creditor suggests there's plenty of reasons for Americans to be interested in the Champions League this season.

"There's a group full of up-and-coming USMNT talents, with Christian Pulisic's Chelsea set to face off against Tim Weah's Lille and Sergiño Dest's Ajax," he wrote.

"Tyler Adams's RB Leipzig may well be the favorite in a balanced group featuring Benfica, Lyon and Zenit-Saint Petersburg. Then, there's the new frontier: an American manager [Red Bull Salzburg's Jesse Marsch] on the sidelines in the group stage."

Jesse Marsch, RB Salzburg
Jesse Marsch, head coach of RB Salzburg during the Bundesliga match between FC Red Bull Salzburg and FC Flyeralarm Admira, at Red Bull Arena on August 25 in Salzburg, Austria. Josef Bollwein/SEPA.Media/Getty

UEFA Champions League odds

According to Oddschecker, Manchester City is a 16/5 favorite to win the Champions League, followed by Barcelona and Liverpool at 11/2.

Real Madrid is a 17/2 shot, while PSG and Bayern Munich are both at 12/1 and Juventus and Atletico Madrid are 13/1 and 18/1 outsiders respectively.

First-round schedule (All times ET)

Tuesday, September 17

  • Olympique Lyon vs Zenit St. Petersburg—12.55 p.m., B/R Live, Galavision
  • Inter Milan vs Slavia Prague—12.55 p.m., B/R Live, TNT, UniMas, TUDN
  • Napoli vs Liverpool—3 p.m., B/R Live, TNT, Galavision
  • Borussia Dortmund vs Barcelona—3 p.m., B/R Live, UniMas, TUDN
  • Chelsea vs Valencia—3 p.m., B/R Live, TUDNxtra
  • Ajax vs Lille—3 p.m., B/R Live, TUDNxtra
  • Benfica vs RB Leipzig—3 p.m., B/R Live, TUDNxtra
  • Salzburg vs Genk—3 p.m., B/R Live, TUDNxtra

Wednesday, September 18

  • Olympiacos vs Tottenham Hotspur—12:55 p.m., B/R Live, TNT, UniMas, TUDN
  • Club Brugge vs Galatasary—12:55 p.m., B/R Live, Galavision
  • PSG vs Real Madrid—3 p.m., B/R Live, TNT, UniMas, TUDN
  • Bayern vs Red Star Belgrade—3 p.m., B/R Live, TUDNxtra
  • Shakhtar Donetsk vs Manchester City—3 p.m., B/R Live, TUDNxtra
  • Dinamo Zagreb vs Atalanta—3 p.m., B/R Live, TUDNxtra
  • Atletico Madrid vs Juventus—3 p.m., B/R Live, Galavision
  • Bayer Leverkusen vs Lokomotiv Moscow—3 p.m., B/R Live, TUDNxtra
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