Iker Leons Champions League Group H preview

The group H of Champions League is probably the weakest one of all. In it we can find Athletic de Bilbao, Porto, Shakthar Donetsk and BATE Borisov fighting for the two positions that give access to next round. The market clearly indicates that both Porto and Athletic de Bilbao will get to next phase, however there is a couple of items that make me think probabilities are not applied correctly here.

The first factor is that market is clearly indicating a preference for Porto versus Athletic, while I don’t share that opinion. Athletic has played very well against a very complicated rival as Napoli and got forward with great solvency. They have the same main block of players than last year and after losing the first match in the Spanish league, they have clearly won the next one against Levante. On the other hand Porto is a team with a lot of young new players and coach. In my opinion Lopetegui will make a very good season coaching Porto, however it does not avoid the fact that a new promising team with a new promising coach should not get assigned the same probabilities like the Porto of last year, and in my opinion this is what is happening in the market. I would estimate probabilities for these both teams to be qualified as head of the group are around 50/50.

Club crestThe second item that it is not potentially well rated by the market is the impact that the presence of Shaktar Donetsk in the group may have. And in this case is not only due to sport reasons but political reasons. It is known by everyone the current conflictive situation in Ukraine, being Donetsk one of the cities with more issues. This could have influence on the teams playing matches there, and in that case it is very difficult to assess what can be the level of influence in the players and therefore on the results. However the market is in my opinion not rating this external factor in its whole potential influence.

Additionally Shaktar has won all matches on their home (weak) league and last year they had a decent participation in Champions league, not losing any match at home. Along with the external factors stated before, they may well give more than one surprise.

Therefore, while it is clear that Porto and Athletic are favorites to get to play offs, from probability point of view we could potentially find some value opportunities in matches related to Shaktar Donetsk or in the ones between Porto and Athletic de Bilbao.