After coming agonizingly close to their first Champions League triumph last season, it’s back to square one for Tottenham.
They will be thrown right back into the fire against Bayern Munich, a side looking to get back to the pinnacle of European football. But much like Group A, this is one of the more top-heavy groups the draw produced:
|TEAM||TO WIN GROUP||TO QUALIFY||NOT TO QUALIFY|
|Red Star Belgrade||66-1||10-1||1-20|
Bayern’s track record earns them the favorites tag in Group B, with Spurs a relatively close second. Olympiacos have not topped a Champions League group since 1998, and Red Star Belgrade are making just their second appearance in the competition after debuting a season ago – neither are considered threats in Group B.
Having won their Champions League group on six successive occasions between 2010-11 and 2015-16, Bayern have only managed to do so once in the last three seasons. The club was the most feared in Europe upon reaching three finals in four seasons between 2010 and 2013, but their reputation has started to fracture in recent years, and they have not been back to the final since.
This summer marked a change of the old guard, with Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben, and Rafinha politely shown the door, while Mats Hummels and Renato Sanches, who both never lived up to expectations in Munich, were sold. They were replaced by new signings Benjamin Pavard, Ivan Perisic, Lucas Hernandez, Michael Cuisance, and Philippe Coutinho. They’ve improved in defense and attack, but not significantly. They are still in somewhat of a transition period, with this roster lacking the high-end talent and depth required to return the club to lofty heights.
It’s hard to look at one area of Tottenham’s squad and definitively say Bayern have the edge in personnel. Spurs might be worse off at full-back, but that’s it. In fact, the genetic makeup of these two sides is awfully similar. The arrivals of Tanguy Ndombele, Ryan Sessegnon, and Giovani Lo Celso have significantly bolstered Tottenham’s midfield, affording them the depth they need to effectively meet the demands of competing in Europe while maintaining their domestic form.
This is already looking like Spurs’ best transfer window since summer 2015, and that should be enough for them to nick Bayern for the top spot in the group.
Pick: Tottenham to win Group B (6-4)
Olympiacos impressively navigated through three rounds of qualifying just to reach the group stage, but the task ahead of them in Group B is daunting. Although they were hammered 3-0 and 4-0 by Bayern the last time they were grouped together in 2015-16, their record against English opposition – six wins, five losses, one draw in their last 12 encounters – offers a bit more cause for optimism.
Red Star proved themselves worthy of a Champions League place last season after beating Liverpool in Belgrade and holding Napoli to a goalless draw. With a year of experience under their belt, the club should fancy themselves capable of ruffling some feathers in Group B, but they don’t travel anywhere near well enough to be considered threats to finish in the top two.
Alex is a sports betting writer for theScore. A journalism graduate from Guelph-Humber University, he has worked in sports media for over a decade. He will bet on anything from the Super Bowl to amateur soccer, is too impatient for futures, and will never trust a kicker. Find him on Twitter @alexjmoretto.