SPI odds for Champions League group stage

Posted by Paul Carr, ESPN Stats & Information

The UEFA Champions League group-stage draw was held today in Monaco, as the 32 teams were seeded into four pots, with the best teams in UEFA's coefficient rankings placed in Pot 1, the next eight teams in Pot 2, etc. The clubs were then drawn into eight groups of four. Here are notes and Soccer Power Index odds to advance for each group...

Group A
SPI percent chance to advance: Manchester United 68.0, Real Sociedad 53.6, Shakhtar Donetsk 39.7, Leverkusen 38.8

SPI says Group A is the most balanced top to bottom, giving each team at least a one-in-three chance to advance.

The pairing of Manchester United and Real Sociedad could match Mexican strikers Javier Hernandez (United) and Carlos Vela (Sociedad). Over the last three seasons, each player has scored exactly 30 goals for his club.

Group B
SPI percent chance to advance: Real Madrid 96.8, Juventus 72.0, Galatasaray 18.3, Copenhagen 12.9

With an SPI offensive rating that trails only Barcelona, Real Madrid is a huge favorite to advance, and Juventus is a strong second in the most top-heavy of the eight groups.

Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo has 50 Champions League goals, tied with Thierry Henry for fourth-most all time, six shy of Ruud van Nistelrooy in third.

Group C
SPI percent chance to advance: Paris Saint-Germain 79.8, Benfica 55.4, Olympiacos 46.2, Anderlecht 18.6

With third-best Olympiacos at a near coin flip to move on, Group C is the most top-heavy among its three best clubs. Favorite Paris Saint-Germain is in consecutive group stages for the first time.

Anderlecht midfielder Sacha Kljestan is one of two Americans in the competition, along with Schalke's Jermaine Jones.

Group D
SPI percent chance to advance: Bayern Munich 96.3, Manchester City 54.6, Viktoria Plzen 27.2, CSKA Moscow 21.9

Defending champion Bayern Munich is heavily favored to advance, looking to be the first repeat winner since AC Milan in 1990. Bayern has the best SPI defensive rating in the tournament, projected to allow about half a goal per game to an average team from Europe's top five leagues.

Group E
SPI percent chance to advance: Chelsea 86.2, Schalke 64.9, Basel 32.0, Steaua Bucharest 16.9

2011-12 winner Chelsea got what appears to be a favorable draw. Basel and Steaua Bucharest have not advanced past the Round of 16 in the Champions League era, though Schalke did reach the semifinals three seasons ago.

Group F
SPI percent chance to advance: Borussia Dortmund 83.0, Arsenal 58.5, Napoli 42.6, Marseille 15.9

After finishing runner-up last season, Borussia Dortmund is the only group favorite to come out of Pot 3, with better odds than several Pot 1 teams, including Man United. Arsenal has reached the knockout round in 10 straight seasons, the second-longest active streak behind Real Madrid's 16 straight knockout rounds.

Group G
SPI percent chance to advance: Atletico Madrid 86.5, Porto 67.0, Zenit 45.3, Austria Vienna 1.3

Debutant Austria Vienna is the only club that SPI gives less than a 12 percent chance to advance. Atletico is one of two clubs from Pot 2 that SPI rates the group favorite, along with PSG in Group C.

Group H
SPI percent chance to advance: Barcelona 97.8, AC Milan 55.1, Ajax 24.4, Celtic 22.7

According to SPI, Barcelona is the biggest favorite to advance, narrowly ahead of Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. That's largely because Barcelona has the best offensive rating of any team, projected to score nearly three goals per game against an average team from Europe's top five leagues.

This is the only group featuring four European Cup winners. The four clubs have combined to lift the trophy 16 times, led by AC Milan with seven titles. Barcelona and AC Milan are paired for the fourth time in the last three Champions League seasons. Barcelona has eliminated Milan in two straight knockout rounds, and the Spanish club took four points from their group meetings in 2011-12.

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