The penultimate round of group stage
clashes serves up a few mouth-watering contests. Atletico Madrid are desperate
to secure qualification to the Round of 16 when they host reigning-champions
Injury-stricken Liverpool host Ajax
Amsterdam after suffering a 2-0 defeat to Atalanta at Anfield that has made the
situation in Group D very sticky with three strong contenders but only two
places up for grabs.
Chelsea make the trip to Sevilla to decide
who will top Group E, while Manchester United and PSG close off the round of
matches. The Parisians will travel with all their superstar players, compared
to the previous meeting, which suggests we’re in for an intriguing matchup.
Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Chelsea,
Sevilla, Barcelona and Juventus have all qualified for the next stage, leaving
the rest of the clubs to find it out in matchdays Five & Six.
We have a great preview with valuable tips
that you should be climbing on. Let’s get to it.
Tuesday 1 December
Lokomotiv Moscow 39/10
These opponents played out to an
entertaining 2-2 draw in the opening round and will battle it out for the third
spot which gains entry to the UEFA Europa League. Lokomotiv Moscow have drawn
three of their four matches in Group A, coming off a gritty performance having
kept a watertight defence in the pouring rain at Atletico Madrid’s Estadio
Wanda Metropolitano, earning another point from a goalless draw that left Diego
Simeone completely frustrated.
Salzburg only have one point from the opening
day, going on to lose their next three matches. The Austrian side will take
confidence in 20-year-old Dominik Szoboszlai and 21-year-old Sekou Koita both
scoring hat-tricks this past weekend in league action. The betting has dropped
significantly for Salzburg to win from last week. Over 2.5 Goals is the
safer play at the same price – 11/20.
Atletico Madrid 9/10
Bayern Munich 26/10
Atletico Madrid’s betting shortened from
14/10 to 9/10 over the weekend. Diego Simeone’s men are forced to do it the
hard way after not taking their chances last week against Lokomotiv Moscow. Los
Rojiblancos are desperate for the win and Bayern Munich are expected to rotate
their squad, however, with the five substitutes rule, the Bavarians could
change half their team in the latter stages. Bayern Munich played Atleti off
the park in a 4-0 humbling in the last meeting. The Spaniards will be aiming
for their fifth straight clean sheet after shutting out Cadiz, Barcelona, Lokomotiv
Moscow and Valencia.
Goalkeeper Jan Oblak has kept six straight clean sheets
for club and country, so Atletico have the right man between the sticks to make
it possible. Robert Lewandowski and Leon Goretzka haven’t travelled with the
team which makes me strongly fancy Atletico. A cagey, hard-fought contest is
expected, I suggest backing Under 2.5 Goals at 21/20 odds.
Shakhtar Donetsk 5/1
Real Madrid 9/20
Shakhtar Donetsk’s scintillating first half
performance in their opening round 3-2 victory over Real Madrid was phenomenal.
Unfortunately for the Ukrainian side, it has been downhill ever since as
they’ve failed to impress. The Miners come off back-to-back 6-0 & 4-0
defeats, home and away to Borussia Monchengladbach which doesn’t bode well for
their chances. Real Madrid failed to beat the weaker Group B teams, Shakhtar
and Monchengladbach, but went on to complete a double over Antonio Conte’s
Los Blancos come off a disappointing La Liga defeat to Alaves last
Saturday. Zinedine Zidane’s team will be bolstered with the rich vein of form
Karim Benzema is enjoying, scoring five goals in his last four appearances.
Benzema is expected to start after being rested against Alaves. Unfortunately,
Eden Hazard’s bad luck with injuries continues as his return to first team
action has been once again interrupted by injury, this time around it’s a
damaged hamstring. I’m confident Zidane’s men will win comfortably, take
Real Madrid on the (-1) Handicap at 9/10.
Borussia Monchengladbach 37/20
Inter Milan 5/4
Borussia Monchengladbach top Group B coming
into this clash and are unbeaten at Borussia Park this season. Real Madrid
needed to late goals from Benzema and Casemiro to come away with a point during
their visit to Germany. The Foals goalkeeper Yann Sommer will have his work cut
out against Romelu Lukaku who scored a brace in the previous meeting between
these sides as they settled for a share of the spoils in Italy.
will be desperate to win their remaining two matches, with two draws against
Shakhtar Donetsk and Monchengladbach earning their two points that finds the Nerazzurri
rooted to the foot of the table. This is a massive six-pointer and a goal-fest
is expected to battle it out for a spot in the Round of 16 with Conte’s men
prevailing. Go into the Matchbet and Both Teams to Score market and select
Inter Milan & Yes at 47/20.
Marseille have lost all four group games
but still have a chance to draw level with Greek opponents Olympiacos on three
points if they manage to snatch the victory. Andre Villas-Boas has the unwanted
record of losing 13 straight Champions League matches and will know that
beating Olympiacos to third spot and continuing their journey to the Europa
League will be considered success given the resources he has at the French
club. Villas-Boas will take confidence in Florian Thauvin and Dimitri Payet
both finding the net against Nantes in Ligue 1 action last Friday. Olympiacos
will need to avoid defeat to retain their third position, a draw will be enough
for coach Pedro Martins’ team, however, with Marseille on the ropes the
Portuguese manager will look to put this game to bed that could potentially set
up a showdown against Porto for second position that will be much more
valuable. A low-scoring affair is expected, Under 2.5 Goals is a great bet
at 6/10 or you could opt for Olympiacos on the Win/Draw Double Chance at 11/20.
Manchester City 6/10
Porto made light work of Marseille and Olympiacos
with comfortable victories without conceding any goals. The Dragons sit on nine
points and are in pole position to qualify from Group C along with Manchester
City who have a perfect record of four straight wins. Midfielder Sergio Oliveira
is in red hot form scoring in each of his last three Champions League games.
Porto have won 11 of the 12 matches at the Estadio Do Dragao this campaign and
will have to be at their best to stand any chance of upsetting Pep Guardiola’s
men. Sergio Aguero will remain in Manchester after feeling discomfort in his
knee with the rest of the squad travelling, so changes are expected to be made
to City’s starting XI, but the squad has enough depth to get the job done in
Portugal. However, I’m backing Porto to find the net. Take Manchester City
& Yes at 2/1 odds in the Matchbet and Both Teams to Score market.
Ajax Amsterdam 3/1
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp
frustratingly stated, “if you don’t have a shot on target, that’s not a good
sign” following last week’s 2-0 defeat at Anfield to Atalanta. The result came
as a huge surprise given Liverpool had just destroyed Atalanta 5-0 in Italy the
previous week, without their long list of injured players. The way in which the
Reds lost would have hurt Klopp and his players but looking at the standings in
this group, it also drew both Ajax and Atalanta within touching distance as
both sides trail Liverpool by two points.
Erik Ten Haag’s Ajax could consider
themselves unlucky as they almost got the better of Liverpool but failed to
convert multiple chances when these European giants met in the Netherlands. Georginio
Wijnaldum tried his best to usurp Ajax in his homeland with his persistence
paying off as Sadio Mane’s shot deflected off Nicolas Tagliafico for an own
goal that decided the match 1-0 in favour of the Reds. Mane was rested in last
weekend’s draw at Brighton and I’m expecting Liverpool’s number 10 to have a
man of the match performance. Take-Home to Score in Both Halves at 23/20.
Atalanta return home to Bergamo with the
huge scalp of Liverpool as Gian Piero Gasperini’s charges completely dominated
the game by working their socks off. The Italians afforded Liverpool zero shots
on target as they covered every plaid of grass to stop the much stronger
opposition from playing their brand of “heavy metal” football. This time around
expect La Dea to go full throttle in attack as they aim to replicate the 4-0
victory over Midtjylland in Denmark two months ago. Midtjylland have conceded
11 times while scoring just twice in four defeats on the bounce. Back Home
to Score in Both Halves (Yes) at 6/10.
Wednesday 2 December
Krasnodar and Rennes will battle it out for third position after both Chelsea and Sevilla secured qualification to the next round. Both sides have one point from their opening day clash which saw them share the spoils in a 1-1 stalemate. Steven Nzonzi provides experience next to the exuberant 18-year-old, Eduardo Camavinga in the heart of Rennes’ midfield.
While Serhou Guirassy and Jeremy Doku are constant threats in attack with lightning-quick pace. It’s Rennes first season in the UEFA Champions League which is a huge achievement but Julien Stephan’s team will now have their sights set on their first win in this competition that will beat Krasnodar to Europa League football. Following their most recent display against Chelsea, my money is on Rennes at decent odds of 16/10.
Sevilla and Chelsea have both qualified for the knockout stages with two games left to play. Clubs want to qualify for this competition to play against the best, however, their objective of reaching the next stage of the competition has been reached. This seems like a dead rubber with either team not making top spot in Group E, in order to get a favourable draw in the Round of 16 their top priority. Sevilla come into the clash with five wins on the bounce and Los Palanganas will surely have one eye on their La Liga fixture this weekend when they host the champions Real Madrid, who Sevilla will leapfrog in the La Liga standings with a positive result.
Chelsea’s six-game winning streak was halted as the Blues played out to a goalless draw against Tottenham last Sunday. Frank Lampard’s squad has immense quality, depth, and potential, the ability to use five substitutes definitely plays into their favour. Because of the way Sevilla set up and Chelsea’s recent improvements along their backline, I fancy both teams to go into the half time interval level. Draw in the Half Time market at 23/20 is my play.
Borussia Dortmund 6/10
Since tasting defeat to Lazio (3-1) in the opening round, Borussia Dortmund have gone on to claim maximum points in three straight UEFA Champions League matches without conceding, that has the Yellow and Blacks sitting on top of Group F. Erling Haaland has scored in every Champions League game this season, the Norwegian striker is priced up at 6/10 in the Anytime Goalscorer market that is well worth a punt. The Germans will be looking to get back to winning ways after losing ground on Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga standings following their disappointing defeat to Cologne last Saturday.
Lazio travel to Signal Iduna Park after also suffering a setback in Serie A, losing to Udinese (3-1). Lazio struggled to pick up points on the road, sharing the spoils at Club Brugge (1-1) and Zenit St. Petersburg (1-1) which doesn’t bode well for their chances. Ciro Immobile returns to his old home but Haaland and company are expected to snatch the win. Back Dortmund on the (-1) Handicap at 29/20.
Club Brugge 23/20
Zenit St. Petersburg 22/10
Club Brugge are three points higher than Zenit St. Petersburg who are rock bottom in Group F. The Blue and Blacks earned their three points advantage by defeating Zenit on the opening day thanks to a stoppage time winner by 19-year-old midfielder Charles De Ketelaere. Zenit have lost four of their last five games in this competition as well as failing to win their last seven matches on the road. I’d personally pass on this game, but if we had to choose a winner, I’ll be leaning towards Club Brugge.
Hungarian champions Ferencvaros have lost three of their four matches in Group G and only have a single point from their draw with Dynamo Kiev. The hosts are not expected to reach the knockout stages. Thus far, the positive they take going into this clash is that they’ve scored in every UEFA Champions League match.
Barcelona have qualified with ease; a perfect record was extended in the Catalans 4-0 victory in Kiev last week. Lionel Messi hasn’t travelled with the team and has been given time to rest and recuperate ahead of the crucial December schedule. Barca have enough quality with exciting youngster Pedri hoping to score against Ferencvaros again. Instead of picking Barca to win at 5/10, take Over 2.5 Goals at 11/20.
Dynamo Kiev 10/1
Cristiano Ronaldo should return to the Juventus team after being left out last weekend for the disappointing 1-1 draw at Benevento. Coach Andrea Pirlo explained in his post-match press conference that it was agreed earlier in the season, that Ronaldo will be rested against certain opponents.
Dynamo Kiev come off back-to-back defeats to Barcelona and haven’t showed any signs that they’re capable of upsetting the Old Lady in this encounter. My tip is Cristiano Ronaldo in the Anytime Goalscorer market at 6/10 odds.
Istanbul Basaksehir 11/2
RB Leipzig 4/10
Istanbul Basaksehir have just three points from their victory over Manchester United, while losing their other three Group H ties. The Turkish champions trail RB Leipzig by three points and need to claim maximum points in order to continue their European journey in the UEFA Europa League. RB Leipzig have a season defining week ahead of them. The Red Bulls need to secure all three points in this encounter, to put themselves in contention to make the Round of 16 at the expense of either Man United or PSG, who they face next Tuesday. Julian Nagelsmann’s troops go toe-to-toe with Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga this weekend. Over 2.5 Goals should be considered a banker at 5/10.
Manchester United 18/10
Paris Saint-Germain 27/20
Paris Saint-Germain will be looking to avenge their 2-1 defeat suffered in France when they travel to Old Trafford on Wednesday night in the headline fixture of this round. This time Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Marco Verratti are all fully fit. Manchester United are surely going to start Edinson Cavani against his former club, after the Uruguayan striker pulled United from 2-0 down, to win the contest 3-2 by providing an assist and scoring two goals against Southampton. Bruno Fernandes and Donny Van De Beek have added creativity to the Red Devils midfield that has been lacking for many seasons. If Verratti starts behind Angel Di Maria, Neymar and Mbappe, my money will be on PSG.
TUESDAY’S TREBLE @ 12/1
Atletico Madrid vs Bayern Munich: Under 2,5 Goals 21/20
Manchester City Win & Both Teams to Score 2/1
Liverpool vs Ajax: Home to Score in Both Halves 23/20
WEDNESDAY’S TREBLE @ 12/1
Rennes Win 16/10
Chelsea vs Sevilla: Half Time – Draw 23/20
Borussia Dortmund (-1) Handicap 29/20
Written by Bryan Naicker