Our football analyst previews the UEFA Champions League week six action which kicks off on Tuesday 5 December 2017.
We’re into the final matchday of the UEFA Champions League with teams hoping to see their names in the pot when the draw takes place on Monday the 11th of December. Barcelona, Manchester City, Besiktas and Tottenham are all confirmed as group leaders. This has proven to be one of the most competitive Champions League seasons, with some of Europe’s biggest giants left to settle for second spot, meaning there will be no easy games in the knockout stages. Let’s take a look at the group stages for one last time and see if we can pick out those winners!
Tuesday 5 December
Manchester United 7/20 | Draw 37/10 | CSKA Moscow 7/1
Manchester United will be looking to seal top spot when they host CSKA Moscow in the final matchday of the group stages. The Red Devils are three points clear of CSKA and Basel, and can afford to lose by six goals and still go through.
A point against CSKA, who haven’t beaten United in their previous five meetings, would seal top spot. Sergio Romero could be given a starting berth, but I still expect Jose Mourinho’s men not to concede. Get on the Home Win to Nil market at even money.
Benfica 19/10 | Draw 24/10 | Basel 27/20
Basel travel to Benfica within touching distance of qualification to the knockout stages. The Swiss giants are second in Group A, level with CSKA Moscow. Basel will go through if they better CSKA’s result, or if both teams draw or lose due to their superior head-to-head. Benfica have been one of the worst performing sides in the tournament so far, losing all five of their matches played. I’m backing Basel on the Double Chance & Both Teams to Score at 12/10.
Celtic 8/10 | Draw 28/10 | Anderlecht 29/10
The top two in Group B may be settled, but third spot is still both Celtic and Anderlecht’s for the taking. The visitors lie bottom on the standings and will need to win by three clear goals to leapfrog Celtic. The Scottish champions cruised to a 3-0 win away to Anderlecht last time out, and should do enough to see themselves into the Europa League. Back the home win at 8/10!
Bayern Munich 29/20 | Draw 26/10 | Paris Saint-Germain 16/10
Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain do battle at the Allianz Arena in what is expected to be a mouth-watering encounter. It’s the team I tipped for glory at the start of the season vs the bookmakers’ favourites.
The reverse tie ended up 3-0 in the Parisians favour, meaning Bayern will have to win by four goals to clinch top spot. Personally, I don’t think they can do it, but I do see them winning the match. For value, back Bayern on the (-1) Handicap at 34/10 – the price on offer is just too enticing to miss out on.
Roma 1/11 | Draw 8/1 | Qarabag 23/1
A spot in the next round is up for grabs when Roma host Dino Ndlovu’s Qarabag this Tuesday. A win for the Italians will see them book their place in the knockout stages, while a loss could be good enough if Atletico Madrid fail to beat Chelsea. Roma will actually be praying for a slip-up from the Blues so that they could take their spot at the top, should they win here. No matter the result, Qarabag will finish bottom of Group C. Take Roma on the (-1) Handicap at 3/10!
Chelsea 1/1| Draw 49/20 | Atletico Madrid 5/2
With qualification already in the bag, it’s just top spot left to fight for at Chelsea. Atletico, on the other hand, need to win and hope Roma do not to finish second. Diego Simeone’s men were beaten last time out to Chelsea, suffering a 2-1 defeat. We’re into the jam-packed Christmas period in the English Premier League, with the Blues expected to rest a few key players along the way. With the process of moving into a new stadium, Atletico’s form has been better away from home. Unfortunately for Atletico, I only see them getting a draw here.
Olympiacos 11/1 | Draw 47/10 | Juventus 2/9
Olympiacos welcome Juventus on Tuesday night, with the Old Lady looking to seal qualification to the next round. No matter the result in this match, the hosts will finish last, with this being their final game in Europe – at least until next season.
Juventus need a win to qualify, or will hope that Sporting do not beat Barcelona, due to their superior head-to-head over the Portuguese giants. With not much value on the away win, I’d suggest backing the visitors on the (-1) Handicap at 6/10.
Barcelona 3/10 | Draw 9/2 | Sporting 7/1
Group D winners, Barcelona, host Sporting Lisbon with not much to play for. The Blaugrana are already through to the knockout stages as winners, while Sporting need maximum points and will qualify with Barca if Juventus fail to win. Ernesto Valverde rested Lionel Messi in their last Champions League fixture, and I’m expecting more changes from the Spanish tactician. I’d have a punt on Both Teams to Score at 8/10.
Wednesday 6 December
Maribor 14/1 | Draw 57/10 | Sevilla 1/6
Maribor will be playing for nothing more than pride when they host Sevilla. The Slovenian outfit can finish no higher than fourth, while Sevilla have a spot in the next round to fight for. The visitors will qualify with a draw, or if Spartak Moscow fail to win. Should Sevilla win and Liverpool don’t, the Spanish side will go through as group leaders. Maribor fell to a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Sevilla last time out, and I’m expecting no different here. Back them on the (-1) Handicap at 5/10.
Liverpool 1/4 | Draw 5/1 | Spartak Moscow 17/2
Group E leaders, Liverpool, will be kicking themselves in the foot after letting their 3-0 lead slip at half-time, drawing 3-3 with Sevilla on matchday five. The Reds are still in a comfortable position and only need a draw to qualify. Although a win would be priority, ensuring top spot in Group E.
Spartak would be through with a win, or third with any other result. If the visitors win, they will finish top, unless Sevilla also win. Goals are always guaranteed when Liverpool step foot on the pitch, whether it’s for them or against them. Back the Over 2.5 Goals market at 4/10.
Shakhtar Donetsk 13/10 | Draw 24/10 | Manchester City 39/20
For the first time in a long time, Manchester City come into a game as the bookmakers’ underdogs. The fact that they’re already through as group winners with a game to spare might have something to do with it.
Shakhtar Donetsk just need to avoid defeat if they are to march on to the next round alongside Man City. The hosts will also advance to the knockout stages if Napoli do not beat Feyenoord. All that said, Man City have been smacking up teams for fun, and no matter what’s at stake, their price is too eye-catching for me to miss out on. Get on the away win!
Feyenoord 8/1 | Draw 47/10 | Napoli 3/10
Napoli will be hoping for some favours from Feyenoord who have no chance of finishing higher than fourth. The Naples, on the other hand, have to win to stand a chance of qualification. They’d still need Shakhtar to lose to Man City, meaning they will finish second on head-to-head. Napoli came out 3-1 victors in their last clash against Feyenoord and will be hoping to emulate that past result. I’m backing the Italian giants to come out flying from the start on the Half-time/Full-time market at 13/20.
Leipzig 3/10 | Draw 17/4 | Besiktas 8/1
Leipzig welcome Group G winners, Besiktas, to the Red Bull Arena with nothing less than maximum points in their sights. The travelling side are already through to the knockout stages as group leaders, while Leipzig have to win, and hope for a slip-up from FC Porto. Although they have much more to play for than Besiktas, it’s not a game that can be taken for granted by Leipzig. They were humbled 2-0 by their opponents last time out and with so much pressure to win the match, they could crumble. I quite fancy Besiktas here at 8/1!
Porto 7/20 | Draw 17/4 | Monaco 13/2
FC Porto will be hoping to wrap up qualification when they host AS Monaco on Wednesday. Porto are currently in second place, level with Leipzig. A win, however, will see the hosts advance to the next round, or as long as they are at least level on points with Leipzig due to their superior head-to-head. Many expected Monaco to finish as group winners, but they’ve been terrible this season and can finish no higher than fourth. Porto should win here, but for more value, back Under 2.5 Goals at 5/4.
Real Madrid 9/20 | Draw 38/10 | Borussia Dortmund 5/1
Group H qualification is already settled, with Real Madrid finishing second, while Dortmund have to battle it out with APOEL Nicosia for third spot. Dortmund know the task at hand will be tough away to Madrid, but they haven’t been at their best this season, meaning they could be there for the taking.
It will also be payback for BVB, who suffered a 3-1 defeat to Los Blancos already this campaign. Madrid’s place in the group has already been determined, with certain key players likely to be rested. Call me crazy, but I’m backing the away win here at 5/1!
Tottenham 1/5 | Draw 6/1 | APOEL Nicosia 10/1
Group H winners, Tottenham, will be hoping to finish the group off in style when they welcome APOEL Nicosia to Wembley stadium. Due to their superior head-to-head record over Real Madrid, Spurs are guaranteed top spot.
APOEL have much more to fight for, and need to better Dortmund’s result if they are to get third spot and advance into the Europa League. With Tottenham heading into the Christmas period in the Premier League, we could see some changes to their line-up. Once again, I’m looking for value here. Take the draw at 6/1.
Tuesday TREBLE @ 128.4/10
Bayern Munich (-1) Handicap 34/10
Juventus (-1) Handicap 6/10
Barcelona vs Sporting BTTS 8/10
Wednesday TREBLE @ 1957.10/10
Man City Win 39/20
Besiktas Win 8/1
Tottenham vs APOEL Draw 6/1