Champions Cup Round 1 Preview

As Lord Sugar has embarked upon his quest for a new Apprentice, the search for the next kings of Europe begins.

While there is independence declared in Spain, Saracens are out to declare their own form of dominance as they hunt down a hat-trick of Champions Cup success.

Ulster v Wasps (Pool 1) 

Premiership runners-up last season Wasps have endured a torrid starry to the new campaign, while Ulster are flying with just one defeat to their name.

Ulster have European pedigree aplenty and look set to take top spot in Pool 1 and should rattle to victory in this opening fixture on Friday.

PREDICTION: Ulster win
Match odds: Ulster 11/20 Wasps 7/5
Unibet pick: Ulster @11/20

Leinster v Montpellier (Pool 3)

 Traditional European heavyweights Leinster begin their campaign at their favoured RDS fortress in Dublin and will be overriding favourites here.

Montpellier have a wealth of riches, but have offered little in Europe and travelling to Ireland on the opening weekend is a tall order against a strong Leinster squad.

PREDICTION: Leinster win
Match odds: Leinster 4/11 Montpellier 2/1
Unibet pick: Montpellier @2/1

Racing Metro v Leicester Tigers (Pool 4)

 Despite their struggles in recent years, Racing Metro look favourites on home soil as a Leicester Tigers side with a mixed record so far this season travel over the channel.

Leicester have promise on paper, but they would have rather started their campaign against lesser opposition, although, you can’t entirely rule out an upset from the Premiership side here.

PREDICTION: Racing Metro win
Match odds: Leinster 4/11 Montpellier 2/1
Unibet pick: Montpellier @2/1

Harlequins v La Rochelle (Pool 1)

 Table toppers in Top14 rugby last season La Rochelle travel to the Twickenham Stoop on Saturday, with Harlequins the hosts and hoping to make a successful start in Europe.

This is a fairly evenly matched clash and should produce some exciting rugby, although it is imperative Quins get themselves off to a quick start on home soil.

PREDICTION: Harlequins win
Match odds: Harlequins 8/11 La Rochelle 27/25
Unibet pick: Bath -18.5 @4/5

Bath v Benetton Rugby (Pool 5)

 With a considerably strong start to the Premiership season under their belts, it is time for Bath to step up in Europe and seize their opportunity in front of home crowd against Benetton.

The Italian historically have not travelled too well and Bath will aim to make the most of their partisan setting and claim a big win to get off to a flying start.

Unibet pick: Bath -27.5 @10/11

Exeter Chiefs  v Glasgow Warriors (pool 3)

Defending Premiership champions Exeter Chiefs come up against Europe’s only unbeaten side in Glasgow Warriors in Saturday evening’s clash at Sandy Park.

Chiefs have been mixed in the Premiership thus far and face a stern challenge, but this will also be a difficult trip to Devon for the Warriors, who can expect a fierce and close clash.

PREDICTION: Exeter Chiefs win
Match odds: Exeter 1/4 Glasgow 14/5
Unibet pick: Exeter -8.5 @10/11

Castres Olympique v Munster (Pool 4)

 Sunday’s opening encounter sees Munster travel to the Stade Pierre Fabre for a showdown with Castres Olympique.

While the home advantage does always seem to play a part in Champions Cup rugby, Munster will head to France as firm favourites to make a winning start to their continental campaign.

PREDICTION: Munster win
Match odds: Castres 49/50 Munster 4/5
Unibet pick: Munster -1.5 @10/11

RC Toulon v Scarlets (Pool 5)

 Scarlets will be looking to fly the Welsh flag as they head to the RC Toulon fortress of the Stade Felix Mayol on Sunday for what promises to be a tasty clash.

Toulon have been indifferent in the past year, while Scarlets appear to be on the rise and Leigh Halfpenny will be keen to prove a point on his return to the Stade Mayol, yet it is hard to see the French giants being slain on home turf.

Match odds: Toulon 1/4 Scarlets 29/10
Unibet pick: Toulon @ 1/4

Northampton Saints v Saracens (Pool 2)

 Sunday evening sees an all-Aviva Premiership affair in the opening round of Champions Cup action as Northampton Saints welcome reigning European champions Saracens to Franklin’s Gardens.

Saracens sit top of the Premiership table, but Saints are just three points adrift and Northampton will be out for revenge for an Premiership Round 1 drubbing, albeit unlikely given the Saracens trains appears to be in full-steam ahead mode.

PREDICTION: Saracens win
Match odds: Northampton 23/10 Saracens 8/25
Unibet pick: Saracens -5.5 @4/5

Ospreys v Clermont Auvergne (Pool 2)

 Ospreys find themselves languishing in Pro14 rugby and will limp into European competition as they host French giants Clermont Auvergne at the Liberty Stadium on Sunday.

Clermont boast serious European pedigree and have flair players aplenty, which will soon overwhelm a beleaguered Ospreys side who look destined to prop up this pool without a significant turn of fortune.

PREDICTION: Clermont Auvergne win
Match odds: Ospreys 41/20 Clermont 4/11
Unibet pick: Clermont @4/11

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