Round two of the UEFA Champions League group stage gets underway on Tuesday with our in-house writer giving his predictions for all 16 matches.
What an opening first round of UEFA Champions League action. The last two winners of the competition in Liverpool and Real Madrid both fell to defeats, while Juventus and Tottenham surrendered two-goal leads to claim a share of the spoils against Atletico Madrid and Olympiacos respectively. Yet again, there are more interesting matchups to look forward to on Matchday Two, so why wait any further? Let’s get straight into it!
Photo Copyright Steve Haag – Hollywoodbets
Tuesday 1 October
Real Madrid 2/9
Club Brugge 9/1
It was a disappointing start for Real Madrid as they kick-started their 2019/20 UEFA Champions League campaign on a sloppy note, getting hammered 3-0 at Paris Saint-Germain. They were without club-captain, Sergio Ramos, current Ballon d’Or holder, Luka Modric, and a few others, but that is no excuse for the way they rolled over, failing to have a single shot on target against PSG – the first time that has happened in a decade in the Champions League.
Percy Tau was an unused substitute in Club Brugge’s opener, which didn’t sit well with many South African supporters as they await Tau’s first UEFA Champions League appearance. Real Madrid look there for the taking at the moment, but should have enough quality to win their home game against the Belgian heavyweights. Take Los Blancos to Win & Both Teams to Score at 23/20.
Paris Saint-Germain 7/20
Very seldom do you see a team priced up at 7/1 in their home game in a UEFA Champions League encounter, but against Paris Saint-Germain, after the way they eased past Real Madrid without their famous front three, the price is certainly understandable.
Galatasaray have formed something of a forgotten squad, boasting players such as Radamel Falcao, Ryan Babel, Steven Nzonzi, Sofiane Feghouli and Jean Michael Seri to name a few. On PSG’s side, Neymar is still suspended for one more game, although we could see Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani make their returns. Put your money on the visitors here.
Red Star Belgrade 37/20
The minnows of Group B battle it out on Tuesday, knowing that the points they get off each other will be crucial in their chances of staying in a European competition. Having said that, Olympiacos did take points off Tottenham, despite being two goals down at one stage. To be fair, that was at home.
In Serbia, very few travelling teams come out as the happier side, particularly in Belgrade. That was evident when Red Star beat European champions, Liverpool, on their turf last season. Against the Greeks, they should find their way to claim all three points. Back the home win.
Bayern Munich 5/4
The blockbuster of the round and certainly the main focus on Tuesday night will be on Tottenham’s pursuit of claiming their first win on the board as they prepare to face Bayern Munich. Spurs were disappointing on Matchday One, going 2-0 up at Olympiacos, before bottling the job and bringing the Greeks back into the game, where they had to settle for a share of the spoils. Christian Eriksen lost possession 22 times in that encounter, which is unlike the Dane.
Perhaps it’s a case of Eriksen’s head being turned as he enters the final year of his contract with Spurs. Bayern were explosive in attack against Red Star Belgrade last time out, winning 3-0. The Bavarians showed their strength in depth as well with Thomas Muller coming on off the bench and getting his name on the scoresheet as well. It’s going to be an interesting to call, but I’d put my money on a draw here.
Shakhtar Donetsk 29/10
Both Atalanta and Shakhtar Donetsk will be rued by their starts to the new campaign, suffering heavy defeats on Matchday One, with both teams failing to find the back of the net. Shakhtar’s loss can be, in a way, forgiven, considering their opponents were Manchester City, while the Italians were smashed 4-0 by Dinamo Zagreb.
Atalanta have decided to take all their home games in the Champions League to the San Siro Stadium, so time will tell whether that was a wise idea or not. Put your money on Under 2.5 Goals here at even money.
Manchester City 1/12
Dinamo Zagreb 22/1
Tournament favourites, Manchester City, lived up to the hype on the opening matchday, cruising past Shakhtar in Ukraine, winning 3-0. Pep Guardiola rang the changes, which paid off as Ilkay Gundogan, Riyad Mahrez and Gabriel Jesus all scored.
Dinamo Zagreb raised many eyebrows and pulled off a massive result in front of their home crowd, humbling Atalanta to a 4-0 defeat. City are a different kettle of fish and this could well be their turn to be on the receiving end of a hefty scoreline. Take Man City to Win By Three Or More Goals at 6/10.
Lokomotiv Moscow 9/2
Atletico Madrid 13/20
Lokomotiv Moscow pulled off one of the shocks of the season last time out, claiming an emphatic and well-deserved 2-1 win away to Bayer Leverkusen. The Russians have some quality players that stand out, boasting a centre-back pairing of Vedran Corluka and Benedikt Howedes, while in midfield, they have Grzegorz Krychowiak and Joao Mario.
Atletico Madrid gave the perfect Diego Simeone-like performance against Juventus, showing plenty of spirit and fight to claw their way back from two goals down to take a point. Joao Felix has shown his quality since his move from Benfica, and next to Diego Costa, the goals will surely come for Atletico Madrid. Get on the 13/20 away win here at all costs.
Juventus will be overwhelming favourites when they welcome Leverkusen to Turin on Tuesday. Maurizio Sarri’s men will be gutted to let their two-goal lead slip against Atletico Madrid, with a turnaround now needed in order to avoid a late scramble in the group to qualify.
Leverkusen’s sloppy home defeat is well-documented by now and they should find the going tough in Italy. At 4/10, Juve are worth adding in all multiples.
Wednesday 2 October
Wednesday night football begins in Belgium as Genk look to turn their fortunes around after a 6-2 battering against RB Salzburg. The hosts were humiliated and showed that they’re fighting a losing battle to qualify for the knockout stages of the competition.
Napoli were impressive and emulated their result last season of beating Liverpool in Naples, keeping a clean sheet in the process. Kalidou Koulibaly was immense at the back, while the attackers did their job up front. Once again, you have to get on Napoli to win here.
RB Salzburg 15/2
Liverpool return to their fortress, Anfield, where they have a tricky encounter against a fearless RB Salzburg side. The Reds gave a decent performance in Napoli, but were let down by the result, losing 2-0. The fact that Jurgen Klopp’s men conceded such a soft penalty to break the deadlock didn’t help matters either.
RB Salzburg have been ruthless in attack this season, with Erling Braut Haland stealing the show on Matchday One, getting UEFA Champions League Player of the Week with his hat-trick against Genk. That took his tally to 17 goals in nine games at the time. Backing Liverpool to Win & Both Teams to Score at 11/10 seems a logical bet to take here.
Slavia Prague 3/1
Slavia Prague and Dortmund meet in one of the early kick-offs on Wednesday. Both clubs head into this one off the back of stalemates from their opening encounters, and to be fair, both sides were considered underdogs in their respective ties. Slavia Prague took the game to Inter Milan and showed no fear, playing with less pressure, having been labelled as the minnow of the so-called group of death.
Dortmund also had chances against Barcelona had it not been for the Catalans’ goalkeeper, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Dortmund would have converted their penalty. The Germans were denied by one of their own. This time, I’m expecting them to break the deadlock and grind out a result. My money is on BVB here at 15/20.
Inter Milan 4/1
Wednesday’s blockbuster will be at the Camp Nou as Barcelona do battle with Inter Milan. Barca held on in Germany to grind out a goalless draw against Dortmund, although they do have Marc-Andre ter Stegen to thank after he denied Marco Reus from the penalty spot.
Inter Milan failed to put the game to bed against Slavia Prague and eventually had to dig deep to ensure that they walked away with a point. Romelu Lukaku failed to deliver the goods in his first Champions League appearance for Inter Milan, but what better way to silence the critics than to score at Barcelona. It’s fairly short, but I would still back Barcelona at 6/10.
Zenit will be looking for more points in the group after completely being ruled out to progress at the start of the competition. The Russians did well to earn a point at Lyon and will fancy their chances against a Benfica side who lost at home to Leipzig.
Zenit have won their last four UEFA Champions League group games at home, while the Portuguese champions have lost twice in three meetings in Saint Petersburg. Back the home win here.
Leipzig continue to defy the odds game after game as Julian Nagelsmann’s charges look to open up the lead at the top of Group G, while the Germans also top the Bundesliga standings. Lyon were disappointing on Matchday One, drawing their home tie 1-1 against Zenit.
This will be the first meeting between these two sides, but Lyon have not won in their last four games in Germany. Leipzig have an excellent record at the Red Bull Arena and should be included in all multiples to get the job done at 7/10.
Group H promises to bring us more thrillers this Wednesday as Lille and Chelsea do battle in one of the two blockbusters. It wasn’t the best of starts for both these sides as Lille were brushed aside 3-0 at Ajax, while Chelsea suffered a 1-0 home defeat to Valencia. Both clubs seek their first goal of the campaign with former Blue, Loic Remy, hoping to get his chance to make his mark against his former employers.
Frank Lampard’s side have undoubtedly been better away from home this term, and although his youthful squad lack European experience, they should find a way to walk away with three points. My money is on the visitors here.
The action concluded in what should be a goal fest at the Mestalla Stadium. The last time Ajax went to Spain, they claimed an emphatic 4-1 win over Real Madrid in the knockout stages of last season’s UEFA Champions League. Valencia, though, are unbeaten in six home ties against Dutch opposition, winning four times.
The hosts are one of those cup teams who struggle domestically, but have the pedigree to go the distance, which was the case when they beat Barcelona to lift the Copa Del Rey Cup in Spain. Ajax, at the moment, do well in any competition. It’s going to be tight, but I’d back a share of the spoils here.
Tuesday TREBLE @ 58/10
Red Star Belgrade Win 37/20
Atletico Madrid Win 13/20
Juventus Win 4/10
Wednesday TREBLE @ 6/1
Liverpool Win & Both Teams to Score 11/10
Leipzig Win 7/10
Chelsea Win 1/1
Written by Jesse Nagel