The quest for Europe’s ultimate prize returns with some mouth-watering encounters lined up. We enter Gameweek 5 with some of the top teams already looking to secure their spot in the knockout stages, while other teams need maximum points in both of their remaining matches. Real Madrid, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich and Porto are all through but who will join them? I’m confident I’ve got the answers.
CSKA Moscow 19/10
Roma travel to Russia on Tuesday to take on CSKA Moscow in a crucial encounter as both sides vie for second place, with Bayern Munich already declared winners of Group E. Both of these teams are tie with four points and will be going all out for victory with a draw not beneficial for either side. The Russians would go through only if they beat Roma by a scoreline which gives them a head-to-head edge on the Serie A outfit, and if City fail to win. Roma would be through with victory if City fail to win and this has all the makings of an entertaining match-up. Roma hammered CSKA 5-1 at home in the reverse fixture but may struggle to match that performance away. CSKA beat Manchester City 2-1 at the Etihad against all odds and the draw looks probable at 23/10.
Man City 5/2
Bayern Munich 1/1
It’s do or die for Manchester City as they host Bayern Munich on Tuesday night in desperate need of victory to keep their chances of advancing to the knockout stages alive. City must win or hope the other match between CSKA and Roma finishes as a draw to remain in contention. Despite already winning their group, Bayern will be hoping to avenge their 3-2 home defeat to City last year by knocking them out in front of their own fans. Bayern won the reverse fixture 1-0 at the Allianz Arena and should reign supreme once again but the safer option is Both Teams to Score, available at 11/20.
Paris Saint-Germain 7/20
Laurent Blanc’s menacing Paris Saint-Germain will be looking to strengthen their hold on the Group F leadership when they welcome Ajax to the Parc des Princes on Tuesday night. PSG have been outstanding, winning three of their four matches with a 1-1 draw coming against their opponents in Amsterdam. Ajax cannot finish in the top two but would ensure a Europa League place if they win and APOEL lose to Barcelona. Ajax are yet to win a match in the group and that is unlikely to change in this fixture. Edinson Cavani has been in excellent goal-scoring form, finding the net in each of his last five appearances in all competitions and will be expected to extend his scoring streak. There’s not much value on PSG, so I recommend taking them on the half-time/full-time double at 9/10.
APOEL Nicosia 95/10
With PSG and Barcelona assured of qualification, the Catalans will be looking to register a second win against APOEL to keep the pressure on leaders PSG in the race for top spot. Barca have won three of their four matches, losing once to PSG, while APOEL have been dreadful with three losses and a draw at home to Ajax. The likes of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar should annihilate APOEL from start to finish. Barcelona to win half-time/full-time looks a good bet at 15/20.
Schalke vs Chelsea Feature Preview
Maribor travel to Portugal to take on Sporting Lisbon in a decisive fixture as both sides need a victory to keep their chances of qualification alive. Sporting will be looking to build on their stunning 4-2 triumph over Schalke but it won’t come easy against the Slovenians, who showed their mettle against Chelsea by holding them to a 1-1 draw. Maribor are yet to register a win and could find it tough in Portugal. I’m expecting a tight affair with Sporting to edge the win at 3/10.
Porto will be hoping to ensure first place in Group H when they travel to Belarus to take on a BATE Borisov side in discomfort. Porto come into the game in good form following a comfortable 2-0 victory away to Athletic Bilbao while BATE suffered a 5-0 thumping at the hands of a rampant Shakhtar Donetsk side last time out. Porto are unbeaten having won three of their four matches and their impressive run should continue once again with a pleasant evening for the Portuguese. Back Porto and let's move on.
Shakhtar Donetsk 13/20
Athletic Bilbao 9/2
Mircea Lucescu’s enchanting Shakhtar Donetsk side will be looking to secure a spot in the knockout stages when they entertain Athletic Bilbao on Tuesday night. The Ukrainians are coming off an impressive 5-0 thrashing of BATE while Athletic Bilbao suffered a 2-0 home loss against Porto, their third defeat in the group. Luiz Adriano has been in sensational goal-scoring form for Shakhtar having scored nine goals already and should terrorise the Lions’ nervy defence. These sides drew 0-0 in Spain but Shakhtar will be more commanding at home and are tipped for victory at 13/20. It’s one for the multiples.
Wednesday, 26 NovemberGroup A
Serie A champions Juventus will be looking to register a second win against Malmo and hope that Olympiacos fail to beat Atletico Madrid so that their place in the knockout stages will be secured. Malmo suffered a 2-0 loss at home to Atletico, their third defeat in the competition, while the Italians will be hoping to build on their 3-2 victory over Olympiacos last time out. Malmo have struggled to find the net having scored just two goals and Juve to be the only team to score looks a good bet at 19/20.
Atletico Madrid 7/20
Atletico Madrid will be going all out for the victory that will see them secure a place in the knockout stages when they host Olympiacos at the Vicente Calderon on Wednesday night. Olympiacos stunned the La Liga champions in the reverse fixture winning 3-2 in Piraeus, and Diego Simeone’s side will be eager to get revenge and jeopardize the Greek’s chances of qualification. Los Rojiblancos are coming off an impressive 2-0 victory away to Malmo while Olympiacos suffered a 3-2 defeat at Juventus. It should be a tight affair but home advantage should prevail. Atletico are tipped for the win.
Liverpool have it all to play for in their Group B clash with Ludogorets on Wednesday night, as Brendan Rodgers’ side need to win both their remaining matches to have a chance of coming second with Real Madrid’s top spot set in stone. The Reds won the reverse fixture 2-1 at Anfield thanks to a last gasp penalty by Steven Gerrard in what was a game of very few chances. Daniel Sturridge is still sidelined from the squad with a long injury lay-off and the Reds have lacked the cutting edge to see off their opponents without him. Liverpool have the record and the pedigree. They also have my money at 9/10 but proceed with caution due to their lack of goal-scoring potential.
FC Basel 62/10
Real Madrid 4/10
Real Madrid find themselves in the privileged position of knowing that the top spot and thus qualification is already assured ahead of their trip to Switzerland. The reigning champions have been marvellous, winning all four of their matches and will be hoping to maintain their 100% record. It won’t be simple as Basel come into the clash full of confidence following their 4-0 thumping of Ludogorets last time out. Paulo Sousa’s side are unbeaten at home in the competition and are yet to concede on their turf. However, Los Blancos won the reverse fixture 5-1 in Madrid and you’d expect them to win here. With that being said, I don’t see many goals in this one and with Basel looking so solid at home, the under 2.5 goals at 16/10 looks too good to pass up.
Benfica travel to Russia to take on Zenit Saint Petersburg on Wednesday night in an all-important encounter as victory is vital for both sides’ hopes of advancing to the knockout stages. Both teams have struggled for consistency and are level with four points in Group C. Zenit are coming off a 2-1 loss at home to Leverkusen while Benfica claimed a 1-0 home victory over Monaco last time out. Despite Zenit winning the reverse fixture 2-0 in Lisbon, the Eagles have looked more solid of late and are unlikely to go down again. The draw is tipped at 24/10.
Group C leaders Bayer Leverkusen will be looking for the victory that will see them secure top spot when they welcome Monaco to the BayArena on Wednesday night. After losing their opening match 1-0 in Monaco, Leverkusen went on to win three consecutive matches in the group, beating Benfica 3-1 at home, followed by a 2-0 home win over Zenit and winning their last match 2-1 at Zenit. Monaco have struggled for consistency and are coming off a 1-0 loss away to Benfica. Leverkusen should get their revenge and clinch the group by edging their opponents at 13/20.
Anderlecht welcome Cesare Prandelli’s dispirited Galatasaray side to Brussels on Wednesday night hoping for a victory that will see them at least qualify for a Europa League place with Dortmund and Arsenal destined to advance to the next round. Both sides are yet to register a win in the competition but Anderlecht look the more determined and better organised. I’m expecting a close contest with Anderlecht tipped to make home advantage count at 12/10.
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund Feature Preview
I’m feeling positive about these picks and looking forward to the Champions League already. Let me leave you with my favourite treble for the week, Porto/Chelsea/Liverpool to win at 43/10 should do it. Enjoy the football, and more importantly, enjoy your betting.
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