Our football writer previews the UEFA Champions League matchday three action which kicks off on Tuesday 23 October 2018.
Matchday three of the UEFA Champions League promises to be just as great as the opening two sets of matches, with some blockbuster clashes to feast our eyes on. Since the draw was first conducted, the matchup between Manchester United and Juventus was always going to be an intriguing one.
Paul Pogba and Cristiano Ronaldo will face their former employers, the neutrals will be hoping to see the key battle between Barcelona’s Arturo Vidal and Inter Milan’s Radja Nainggolan. With all the quality on showcase in Europe’s elite competition, let’s hope we can enjoy the football, while making some extra money in the process.
Tuesday 23 October
Bayern Munich 2/9
AEK are still in the hunt for their first points on the board when they welcome Bayern Munich to Athens. The hosts lost their opening two games, conceding three times in each encounter. Bayern have had their struggles this season, especially domestically, but in the Champions League, they should kick on from the four points they achieved in their opening two matches. The Bavarians have also never lost in Greece, winning three of the four times they visited the country in the Balkans. Over 2.5 Goals seems the best bet here at 5/10.
Ajax have defied all odds so far in their Champions League campaign, spearheading Group E, ahead of Bayern Munich on goal difference. Benfica scraped past AEK in their previous fixture, but that could only guide them to third spot in the group.
The Eagles have been flying high in Portugal, but so far, have failed to replicate their form into this year’s Champions League showpiece. Hakim Ziyech and Dusan Tadic have been in superb form for Ajax this term, with the latter already notching up two assists so far. The home win looks too good to pass up here at 19/20.
Shakhtar Donetsk 57/10
Manchester City 7/20
Shakhtar and Manchester City square off for the second successive season in the Champions League when they do battle this coming Tuesday. The Ukrainian giants have a brilliant record at home to English opposition, winning five of the seven games played, including that memorable 2-1 victory over Pep Guardiola’s men last year.
City’s record in Ukraine also leaves a lot to be desired, losing two of their three games played. The English champions have had their troubles in Europe this season and despite their recent dominance in England, I’m expecting the Citizens to struggle here. Back Shakhtar on the Double Chance here at 33/20.
Despite some excellent performances in the Champions League, Hoffenheim sit bottom of the pile in Group F on just one point, losing out to Manchester City in the dying stages of the game on Matchday Two.
Lyon, on the other hand, are unbeaten at the top of the standings with one win and one draw from their opening two encounters. On paper, the French giants could argue that they’ve already been through their toughest tests, but Hoffenheim will surely prove to be no pushovers. Get on Over 2.5 Goals at 5/10!
Real Madrid 1/16
Viktoria Plzen 25/1
It’s redemption time in the Champions League as Real Madrid prepare to host Viktoria Plzen after disappointingly losing at CSKA Moscow last time out. Los Blancos are unbeaten in all five games against Czech opposition at home, winning four times.
The visitors, on the other hand, have suffered defeat in all three UEFA trips to Spain. Real Madrid need to win here, and I’m expecting them to do just that. Back the Champions League holders to Score In Both Halves for more value at 7/20.
CSKA Moscow 7/1
Roma will by no means have it easy when they welcome CSKA Moscow to the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. The Italians bounced back strongly on Matchday Two, claiming an emphatic 5-0 victory over Viktoria Plzen. CSKA top Group G, having gone unbeaten in their opening two matches, whilst also edging past Real Madrid in one of the biggest upsets this Champions League has seen yet.
Despite their recent delight, CSKA have surely ridden their luck out and should go down in Rome. Edin Dzeko is second of the scoring charts with three goals, so perhaps the Bosnian as an Anytime Goalscorer could also be worth taking. For safety measure, just back Roma to win the match at 7/20.
Young Boys 26/10
It’s an evening battle between the so-called minnows of Group H when Young Boys host Valencia in the early kick-off. Both clubs are yet to register their first win of the campaign, which makes this tie a massive six-pointer if either side are to stay in a European competition.
The Swiss champions lost both of their encounters, losing 3-0 in both games, while Valencia managed to grind out a point at Old Trafford against Manchester United in what was a boring and goalless stalemate. Take the visitors here at even money.
Manchester United 21/10
In what is undoubtedly the pick of the round, Manchester United and Juventus go head to head this Tuesday with fireworks expected at the Theatre of Dreams. Juve lead the standings in Group H, winning both of their matches played so far, keeping consecutive clean sheets. United have had no shortage of problems in their camp this season, even with former Juve superstar, Paul Pogba.
Their defence has been all over the place and defending against one of football’s greatest players ever in Cristiano Ronaldo might be too big of a task. Ronaldo loves showing how great he really is in the big games, and what bigger stage than against the team you made your name for in the Champions League. My money is on the away win here!
Wednesday 24 October
Club Brugge 23/20
Wednesday action kicks off with Club Brugge hosting Monaco as both teams look to kick on in Group A from their opening two defeats. The Belgian side have a decent record at home to French opposition, winning five of the 10 encounters they have played.
For Monaco, this will be Thierry Henry’s first Champions League game as a head coach, and if his mentoring abilities are half as good as his playing expertise, then we could see the next Zinedine Zidane in the making. For now, not much can be expected of this Monaco team. Back Both Teams to Score at 6/10.
Atletico Madrid 19/10
Dortmund and Atletico Madrid do battle in arguably Wednesday’s toughest clash. Both giants have achieved six points from their opening two matches, but it seems that both sides have somewhat traded places in terms of what they have achieved so far in the group. Dortmund, known for their fast-paced attack, are yet to concede this term, while Atletico, known for their resolute defending, have scored the highest amount of goals in Group A. This one is tough to predict, so I’ll be fancying Both Teams to Score at 15/20.
PSV lock horns with a Tottenham side who have struggled thus far in the competition, losing both of their encounters played. PSV are none the better, in fact, the Dutch side sit below Spurs on goal difference, having scored just one goal.
Tottenham have an impressive record in the Netherlands, winning five of their seven trips to Holland, while PSV have emerged victorious in just six of their 16 home encounters against English opposition. Back Spurs to claim their first victory and move within touching distance of the top.
Inter Milan 47/10
Both Barcelona and Inter Milan will be looking to keep their 100 percent records intact when they do battle at the Camp Nou on Wednesday night. It will also be interesting to see the battle between Arturo Vidal and Radja Nainggolan, who share so much similarities in their style of play. Lionel Messi has been subliminal this season and is already the competition’s leading goalscorer with five goals to his tally.
Mauro Icardi has also hit form for Inter, but you get the feeling that the game could be decided by Argentina’s greater player. Barca have won 16 of the 23 home games they have played against Italian opposition and should come out on top once again. I would even go as far as backing Barcelona on the (-1) Handicap at 15/20.
Red Star Belgrade 30/1
Last season’s runners-up, Liverpool, will be eyeing a turnaround performance when they host lowly-fancied Red Star Belgrade at Anfield on Wednesday night. Jurgen Klopp’s men need to bounce back from their slump against Napoli, losing 1-0 in the dying seconds of the game.
The dynamic front three of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah haven’t been at their best this campaign, but against a side like Red Star Belgrade, they could bounce back and bring back belief within the camp. The Reds to Score In Both Halves seems a banker here at 3/10.
High-flying PSG will look to leapfrog Napoli, who sit at the top of proceedings in Group C, when they welcome the Italian heavyweights to the Parc des Princes. It will also mark a return for coach Carlo Ancelotti, who managed the Parisians from 2011 to 2013. The Naples lead the way, despite scoring just one goal, winning and drawing each of their two games played.
David Ospina faces yet another tough test in goal as Neymar, off the back of a hat-trick last game, will partner Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani in an electrifying front three. Calling it a banker might be too harsh on Napoli, but I cannot see any other result than a routine win for PSG.
Galatasaray will look to inflict Schalke’s first defeat of the campaign when the two sides do battle in Turkey. Gala knocked out the German outfit in this fixture in a Round of 16 encounter way back in the 2012/13 season. Having said that, Schalke have drawn all three of their UEFA games in Turkey. So as much as they battle to win, they’re also tough to beat.
The visitors have been more impressive this season than their counterparts, so I’m backing the Germans to return home with something. Take these sides to cancel each other out here at 21/10.
Lokomotiv Moscow 33/20
Lokomotiv Moscow and FC Porto square off for the first time in an UEFA competition with both teams looking to start the head-to-head records on a high. Lokomotiv lie bottom of Group D with two defeats from their first two matchups, while Porto are yet to be beaten this term. The Dragons also have a great record in Russia, winning four of their six games played. I’m backing Porto to pile more misery on Lokomotiv.
Tuesday TREBLE @ 6/1
AEK vs Bayern Over 2.5 Goals 5/10
Ajax Win 19/20
Juventus Win 13/10
Wednesday TREBLE @ 5/1
Dortmund vs Atletico BTTS 15/20
Barcelona (-1) Handicap 12/10
PSG Win 4/10