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UEFA Champions League Preview

Matchday 2 of the UEFA Champions League throws up some big encounters with loads of value on offer.
Matchday 2 of the Champions League throws up some big encounters with loads of value on offer.
Matchday 2 of the UEFA Champions League is fast-approaching! Barcelona remain favourites at 3/1 after their 7-0 dismantling of Celtic. Bayern Munich are creeping up second in the betting at 7/2, showing FC Rostov no remorse by giving them a taste of what the Champions League is all about, humbling the Russian outfit to a 5-0 scoreline. As the saying goes – “Anything you can do, we can do better” – Dortmund showed their quality against Legia Warsaw, thrashing them 6-0, proving to the world that they’re just as good as their German rivals. The big match on Matchday 1 saw Arsenal snatch a point from PSG. But enough about the past, week two of the Champions League sees high-flyers, Dortmund, host cup-holders Real Madrid, and Bayern travelling to Spain to take on Atletico Madrid in the two biggest games. Let’s get to it shall we.

Tuesday 27 September

Group E

2/1 CSKA Moscow | Draw 9/4 | Tottenham 13/10 (20:45)

CSKA Moscow, off the back of an excellent 2-1 away win to Krylya Sovetov in the Russian League, welcome Tottenham to the Arena Khimki, where they have played just once this season. The Horses are in great form, and are undefeated to date. That record looked like slipping away in their last Champions League fixture, where they went 2-0 down to Bayer Leverkusen, but a quick turnaround in the first half saw them draw level at 2-2. Spurs, though, are still in search of their first Champions League points this campaign after a shock 2-1 defeat to Monaco at Wembley in Matchday 1. Mauricio Pochettino’s men will look to take their league form into Europe’s elite tournament, however, Harry Kane is a major doubt for the match after being stretchered off injured in their 1-0 win over Sunderland. Without Kane, Spurs still look like a threat going forward, making the Both Teams To Score market well worth a punt at 7/10.

27/20 Monaco | 22/10 | Bayer Leverkusen 2/1 (20:45)

Monaco have been off to the perfect start this season. A famous 2-1 win over Spurs at Wembley in their Champions League opener puts Leonardo Jardim’s side on top of Group E for the time being. The Stade Louis II has been a ground of joy for the Monaco faithful. They just come off the back of an impressive 3-0 win over Rennes, and beat PSG 3-1 on their turf. That doesn’t bode well for Bayer Leverkusen. The German side have managed to win twice in three Bundesliga matches, but slipped to a 2-2 draw in their Champions League opener. Monaco are flying high and are tipped at 27/20.

Group F

2/9 Sporting CP | 5/1 | Legia Warsaw 10/1 (20:45)

Sporting come off the back of a 3-1 defeat in their domestic league at the hands of Rio Ave. The Lions remain on top of the Portuguese log, after winning four of their five games played. Jorge Jesus’ side impressed most on their trip to Real Madrid, though, where they were thwarted late on by the head of Alvaro Morata and former superstar, Cristiano Ronaldo. Legia Warsaw have let their nerves get the better of them this season. The Polish side are one place ahead of the relegation zone in their league and got hammered 6-0 by a ruthless Dortmund side in their Champions League opener. In the quest for value, back Sporting to Win + Over 2.5 Goals at 6/10.

16/10 Dortmund | 5/2 | Real Madrid 15/10 (20:45)

Borussia Dortmund, who are flying high at the moment, host last season’s winner’s Real Madrid in Tuesday’s biggest game. Thomas Tuchel and Zinedine Zidane are two managers on the rise, with similar tactics in the way they set their sides. Los Blancos are the only Spanish team with a 100% record in the league this season, while Dortmund come off the back of two 6-0 victories in a row – at the time of writing. The last time these sides met, BVB won 4-1 at home, while Real Madrid claimed a 2-0 victory in the second leg, exiting the Champions League in 2012/13. This match is likely to produce goals, but at the end of it all, Dortmund are tipped to come out on top. Back the Black and Yellow army at 16/10.

Group G

8/10 Copenhagen | 49/20 | Club Brugge 33/10 (20:45)

Copenhagen got off to a decent start in the tournament, taking a share of the spoils back to Denmark in their away trip against FC Porto. The Team of the City are the only unbeaten side in the Danish league and are taking that form into the Champions League. Club Brugge, though, have been an absolute failure so far. Three defeats from their opening seven games and a 3-0 battering against Leicester City leaves the Belgian side with a slim chance of progressing to the next round of the tournament – or even Europa League. Back the home win at 8/10.

11/10 Leicester City | 9/4 | Porto 49/20 (20:45)

Two 3-0 victories in a week will leave the Leicester City faithful with plenty to cheer about. Islam Slimani has proven to be the perfect signing for the Foxes, netting twice on his Premier League debut. They go up against a Porto side who failed to take control of their opening game after letting a one-goal lead slip out their hands. The Dragons will need to be at their very best against the Foxes after winning just once in their last four games in all competitions. With that being said, my money will be on Leicester to win this one at a decent price of 11/10.

Group H

15/20 Sevilla | 28/10 | Lyon 33/10 (20:45)

Sevilla didn’t get off to the start they had hoped for, but remain undefeated under new boss, Jorge Sampaoli. The Sevillistas are one of three undefeated teams in the Spanish La Liga. Sampaoli’s side have been involved in some high scoring matches this season, but did well to hold Juventus to a goalless draw in their opener. They now face a Lyon side who should be well-respected after their 3-0 hammering of Dinamo Zagreb. The Kids have been disappointing in their domestic league, though, failing to win in three of their five matches played. I quite fancy the home win here. Back Sevilla to claim maximum points at 15/20.

25/2 Dinamo Zagreb | 17/4 | Juventus 1/4 (20:45)

Dinamo Zagreb come off the back of a 3-0 defeat against Lyon in the Champions League, followed by a 5-2 drubbing in the Croatian League. Things are not looking good for Zlatko Kranjcar’s side. Next in their way to misery, is Juventus, who are capable of dismantling the biggest of giants on their day. The Old Lady, however, suffered their first defeat in the Italian Serie A at the hands of Inter Milan. Albeit, one just cannot see Juve dropping points here. The Bianconeri have the players to hurt Zagreb, including Paulo Dybala, Gonzalo Higuain and Miralem Pjanic. That said, Juventus are just as tidy in defence. My money is on Juve to Win To Nil at 6/10.

Wednesday 28 September

Group A

9/20 Arsenal | 7/2 | FC Basel 52/10 (20:45)

Arsenal come into this game high on confidence, winning three games in a row at the time of writing. The Gunners stole a point in their trip to Paris, but it was David Ospina who was the star of the show, keeping his team in the game. The Goalkeeper is likely to remain in goal with Arsene Wenger rotating his squad a bit, giving some players a bit of a break after the Chelsea game which takes place this weekend. Basel have been remarkable so far in their domestic league, winning all seven of their matches played. They did, however, fail to beat Ludogorets in their opener, snatching an equalizer in the 79th minute to end the game at 1-1. At 21/20, Arsenal are tipped to win on the Halftime/Fulltime Double.

7/1 Ludogorets | 36/10 | Paris Saint-Germain 7/20 (20:45)

Ludogorets almost held on to what would have been an excellent result, but conceded late to split the spoils with Basel in their Champions League opener. PSG were also held to a 1-1 draw in their first game, but showed that they are back to their best on the weekend. The Parisians won 6-0 at Caen, with Edinson Cavani netting four of those. The Uruguayan striker has been far from his very best for a while now and getting those goals last weekend will give him a major boost to push on. Playing against a team that come off a 6-0 victory will always be tough. Especially when you’re Ludogorets and that team is PSG. The away win looks a banker at 7/20, but my money will be on PSG to Win + Over 2.5 Goals at even money.

Group B

6/10 Napoli | 3/1 | Benfica 17/4 (20:45)

Napoli, the only unbeaten team in the Italian Serie A, picked up where they left off last season despite the departure of Gonzalo Higuain. Maurizio Sarri’s men came from behind to pull off an impressive 2-1 win away to Dynamo Kyiv – both goals scored by Arkadiusz Milik. Benfica were so close to holding onto their 1-0 victory, but it was not to be against Besiktas who equalised deep into stoppage time. As great as the Naples have been this season, their defence has got me asking plenty questions. They should concede here. Back Napoli to Win + Both Teams To Score at a valuable 22/10.

11/10 Besiktas | 9/4 | Dynamo Kyiv 5/2 (20:45)

Turkish giants, Besiktas, who are doing well in the league, come off the back of an emphatic 2-0 away win against Akhisar Belediyespor. They left it late in their opening game against Benfica, but still claimed the point at the end, with Talisca scoring a superb free-kick in injury time. Dynamo Kyiv on the other hand, fell to pieces after their first goal. The Russian outfit are known for their resolute defence on their turf, but failed to live up to that. They should do better in this fixture, though. Besiktas certainly have the capability of bossing the game, but Dynamo should hold on. Back the draw at 9/4.

Group C

57/10 Monchengladbach | 4/1 | Barcelona 7/20 (20:45)

Monchengladbach face their biggest challenge yet when they host Barcelona at Borussia-Park. The hosts have been fairly decent this season, winning two of their three matches played in the German Bundesliga, but also got beat by Manchester City 4-0 in their opening Champions League game. Barcelona on the other hand, are usually on the joyful side of a 4-0 hammering. They put seven goals past Celtic in their opener and then went on to beat Leganes 5-1 away from home. The trio of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar have been a nightmare for opposing defenders. I just don’t see them slowing down here. Back Barcelona to Win + Over 3.5 Goals at 27/20.

15/2 Celtic | 9/2 | Manchester City 3/10 (20:45)

It’s looking like the dark days are near for Celtic. Pitted in the so-called ‘Group of Death’, and arguably the weakest team out of the lot, the Hoops will need a miracle to get something out of their home fixtures – at least. They go up against a Manchester City side who look unstoppable at the moment. Since Pep Guardiola took charge of the Sky Blues, they have been a joy to watch. Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne look more of themselves now. That said, this could be another routine victory for Pep’s side. Back City to win on the Halftime/Fulltime Double at 15/20.

Group D

39/20 FC Rostov | 22/10 | PSV Eindhoven 14/10 (20:45)

FC Rostov, despite a 5-0 hammering against Bayern Munich, will look to punch above their weight against PSV. Ivan Daniliants’ side have already beaten Dutch opposition this season, overcoming Ajax in the qualifying round, winning 4-1 at home. PSV, though, were unfortunate to get something from their opening game against Atletico Madrid. The Peasants scored a disallowed goal (which was wrongly decided by the ref) and missed a penalty. They will be more confident against weaker opposition now and should come away with something. At 14/10, PSV look to good to pass up.

2/1 Atletico Madrid | 43/20 | Bayern Munich 14/10 (20:45)

This is arguably the best game that the Champions League group stages will see in a very long time. In a repeat of last season’s semi-finals, Bayern Munich face Diego Simeone’s vicious Atletico Madrid side. Since then, the Bavarians have been tidier in defence. It will be a clash of tactics with Simeone and Carlo Ancelotti setting up their teams not to concede. Bayern have conceded just once in their opening six games, while Atleti have kept four consecutive clean sheets at the time of writing. This is certainly the trickiest fixture to take a bet on, but there’s loads of value on offer. If any team can break down Los Colchoneros, it’s Bayern. Having said that, if any team can shut out the Bavarians, its Cholo’s team. My money is on the draw here at 43/20.

Tuesday TREBLE @ 17/2
Sevilla Win 15/20
Dortmund Win 16/10
Leicester Win 11/10

Wednesday TREBLE @ 15/2
PSV Win 14/10
PSG Win + Over 2.5 Goals 1/1
Man City HT/FT Win 15/20

Written by Jesse Nagel