UEFA Champions League Preview

Matchday 3 of the UEFA Champions League throws up some big encounters with loads of value on offer.
Matchday 3 of the Champions League throws up some big encounters with loads of value on offer.
Matchday 3 of the UEFA Champions League is around the corner! The sides in the tournament have had an extra week off from Europe’s elite competition, with the international break gracing its presence. The big match in Matchday 2 saw Atletico Madrid leapfrog Bayern Munich in Group D, beating the Bavarians 1-0 at the Vicente Calderon. The other big game in that round witnessed a four-goal stalemate between Borussia Dortmund and title-holders, Real Madrid. Matchday 3 promises to be just as thrilling with a clash between Barcelona and Manchester City; but let’s see where else we can make an extra bit of change!


Tuesday 18 October

GROUP E

11/10 Leverkusen | Draw 24/10 | Tottenham 47/20 (20:45)

Bayer Leverkusen were thwarted last time out as they conceded deep into injury time against Monaco to draw their second consecutive group game. They then gave the best possible response with a 2-0 home victory over Borussia Dortmund in the German Bundesliga. Tottenham, like Leverkusen, also trounced a title-challenger 2-0 in the form of Manchester City at White Hart Lane in their last encounter. In the absence of Harry Kane, Heung-min Son has been sublime for Spurs and is the clubs leading scorer this season. This is a game that has Both Teams To Score written all over it; which comes in at 13/20.

16/10 CSKA Moscow | 43/20 | Monaco 17/10 (20:45)

CSKA Moscow go in search of their first win of the tournament when they host Monaco in Russia. Leonid Slutsky’s side fell to defeat in their opening home match – a 1-0 loss at the hands of Spurs. The Horses still have a chance in Group E and will look to hurdle over their poor start in the Champions League. Monaco on the other hand, are a team hard to break down at the moment. The French giants snatched a late draw in their last group game against Leverkusen, courtesy of a thunderous Kamil Glik strike. Leonardo Jardim’s side bounced back strongly after the stalemate, defeating Metz 7-0 away from home in Ligue 1. Make of that what you will, but I know where my money will be. Monaco at 17/10 looks a damn good bet!

GROUP F

3/1 Sporting | 26/10 | Dortmund 8/10 (20:45)

The international break couldn’t have come at a better time for Sporting, who won just one of their last three domestic games. In the Champions League, though, the Lisbon-based club have been fairly decent. They beat Legia Warsaw in a match that was expected to be one-way traffic from the start. Before that, the Lions were undone by a late Real Madrid header to go down 2-1. Borussia Dortmund have been one of my personal favourites this season. They’ve scored eight goals in the two matches played so far and refused to give Madrid the game, despite going a goal down twice. Dortmund are a joy to watch and should maintain their free-scoring form. The away win comes in at 8/10; get on!

1/50 Real Madrid | 13/1 | Legia Warsaw 45/1 (20:45)

Champions League holders, Real Madrid, will have no better opportunity to turn their recent form around when they host Legia Warsaw. Los Blancos have drawn four consecutive matches in all competitions, at the time of writing. Legia have a last chance to prove that they’re not there to be Group F’s whipping boys. A defeat to both Dortmund and Sporting leaves Madrid the only team in their path to misery. The visitors have shipped in eight goals and are yet to break their duck in the tournament. With that being said, Madrid will win, it’s just a matter of how much. The betting is too low for my fancy, though. The most reasonable bet would be to back Over 2.5 Goals at 1/8 – even that doesn’t offer much on the betting front.

GROUP G

28/10 Club Brugge | 49/20 | Porto 19/20 (20:45)

Rooted firmly to the bottom of Group G, Club Brugge will have a point to prove against Porto, who are a place and a point above them. However, the Belgian side are far from the level of Porto. Club Brugge are putting every team on form and seem destined for the exit. A 3-0 loss followed by a 4-0 trouncing will leave Porto licking their lips at the trip to the Jan Breydel Stadium. After the Dragons suffered a 1-0 defeat to Leicester City, they picked up the pieces and showed no remorse to Nacional in the domestic league, winning 4-0 before the international break. Back the away win at a decent price of 19/20.

9/10 Leicester City | 24/10 | FC Copenhagen 31/10 (20:45)

Onto Leicester City, who have been flying high in the Champions League. The Foxes recorded two straight wins in the competition, which sees them on top of Group G. Their Premier League form has played no part in their Champions League run. After a 4-1 hammering against Manchester United, Leicester bounced back strongly to beat FC Porto. Copenhagen come off the back of a resounding 4-0 victory against basement-dwellers, Club Brugge, in the Champions League. The Team of the City were then held 0-0 by Viborg in the Danish Superliga. Leicester have kept back-to-back clean sheets in the group and should do the same here – no matter what happens on the weekend against Chelsea. The home Win To Nil is priced up at 19/10 and is certainly worth a punt. For the punters who are not risk-takers, play it safe and back them on the straight win.

GROUP H

17/4 Lyon | 26/10 | Juventus 13/20 (20:45)

French giants, Lyon, face their toughest challenge yet when they host five-time defending Italian Serie A champions, Juventus. Lyon were put to bed in the 53rd minute in their clash against Sevilla, conceding through some sloppy defending. When you mention “sloppy defending”, the last team you think of is Juventus. The Old Lady have gone four games in all competitions – at the time of writing – without shipping in a goal. In those four games, the Bianconeri have found the back of the net 12 times. Alexandre Lacazette has returned to training for Lyon, and it will take somebody of his class to break down the Juve backline. Personally, I don’t see it happening. Juventus to Win To Nil is my prediction at a valuable 29/20.

52/10 Dinamo Zagreb | 32/10 | Sevilla 5/10 (20:45)

Dinamo Zagreb, like Legia Warsaw and Club Brugge, have been the Champions League’s whipping boys. Zagreb have been dismal so far, losing 3-0 and 4-0 consecutively. This side is far from the Dinamo Zagreb that we saw last season, beating Arsenal 2-1. Sevilla have got their Champions League campaign off to a great start. They managed to earn a point at Juventus, before humbling Lyon to a 1-0 defeat. Back-to-back clean sheets will certainly put a smile on Jorge Sampaoli’s face. Three in a row would be even better! However, the safest option is a straight Sevilla win at 5/10.

Wednesday 19 October

GROUP A

1/5 Paris Saint-Germain | 52/10 | FC Basel 11/1 (20:45)

FC Basel travel to Paris to take on an out of sorts PSG side. Since the arrival of Unai Emery as manager, the Parisians have looked far from their absolute best. Zlatan Ibrahimovic and David Luiz will always remain the culprits of PSG’s demise after their respected moves to England. The home team, though, should do better against Basel, who were not shown much of the ball in their clash against Arsenal. The Swiss champions were held to a draw for the first time this season, sharing the spoils with Thun in their last match before the international break. PSG are yet to keep a clean sheet in the Champions League this season, making the Win + Both Teams To Score market a decent bet at 16/10.

1/7 Arsenal | 13/2 | Ludogorets 16/1 (20:45)

Arsenal come into this game off the back of some fine form before the international break. Luckily for Arsenal Wenger, none of his players returned to the Gunners camp with an injury. Arsenal have won five matches in a row in all competitions – at the time of writing – and this will be their second of four consecutive home games. Ludogorets were on their way to a shock victory over PSG in their last Champions League fixture, before an Edinson Cavani brace sealed off Blaise Matuidi’s opener, ensuring that Bulgarian side left with nothing. The Gunners have kept four successive clean sheets at the time of writing – including one for David Ospina. Another Win To Nil is tipped for Arsenal at 13/20.

GROUP B

29/20 Dynamo Kyiv | 22/10 | Benfica 19/10 (20:45)

Dynamo Kyiv are yet to pick up their first points of the Champions League this season. A home defeat, followed up with a point at Besiktas, means the Ukrainian champions sit third in Group B. Benfica are also in search of their first win of the campaign and share a similar story to Dynamo, drawing just once. It’s still early stages in the group and both teams will feel they have a chance of progressing, should they win here. This encounter should produce goals; the sides have scored five goals and conceded eight times between them in the Champions League this season. Both Teams To Score is tipped at 17/20.

7/20 Napoli | 38/10 | Besiktas 13/2 (20:45)

High-flying Napoli host Besiktas, looking for a third consecutive Champions League victory. The Naples will have to do it without their star-striker, Arkadiusz Milik, who is ruled out with a long-term knee injury. Milik netted three times in the tournament so far, making him joint-top scorer in the competition along with the likes of Sergio Aguero, Lionel Messi and Edinson Cavani. Besiktas will be more confident, facing a side who have lost their most in-form player. The Black Eagles are undefeated in the tournament as well and should put up a good fight against Napoli. At 8/10, Both Teams To Score looks the safest bet.

GROUP C

11/20 Barcelona | 33/10 | Man City 17/4 (20:45)

Onto the tie of the round where Pep Guardiola’s new and improved Manchester City travel to the Nou Camp to take on his former employers, Barcelona. The Catalans suffered a bit of a dip in form when Lionel Messi was ruled out injured; but this weekend could see the magician return to the fold. The Citizens could also welcome back a star player in their ranks in the form of Kevin De Bruyne – but that remains just a 75% chance. This game pits the best players against the best coach in the world. We could see end to end action here, and as much as everybody thinks that Barca should wipe the floor with them, this game could go otherwise. My tip for this one is Over 1.5 Goals in the first half; that comes in at a valuable 11/10.

21/10 Celtic | 51/20 | Monchengladbach 23/20 (20:45)

Celtic came close to pulling off one of the shocks of the season in the Champions League as they took the lead three times against Manchester City, only for the match to end at 3-3. It was still a classy performance from Brendan Rodgers’ side and they will be coming guns blazing when Monchengladbach visit Celtic Park. Monchengladbach lost both encounters so far and will be hopeful of getting something off Celtic in what promises to be a fight for third place in the group. Gladbach were unlucky not to capitalize against a Messi-less Barcelona team as they fell to a 2-1 home defeat. No side have conceded more than Celtic (10) so far in the tournament and we could see more goals in this game. Over 2.5 Goals is the tip at 11/20.

GROUP D

8/1 FC Rostov | 33/10 | Atletico Madrid 7/20 (20:45)

FC Rostov did well in their last outing, as they held PSV Eindhoven to a 2-2 draw at the Olimp-2 Stadium. Dmitry Poloz’s brace was quickly cancelled out by the Dutch giants. Atletico Madrid have once again, shut the mouths of all those who doubt them. Los Colchoneros come off the back of an emphatic 1-0 victory over Bayern Munich, keeping yet another clean sheet. That’s seven in nine games at the time of writing. Yannick Carrasco popped up with the goal in the 35th minute that put the Bavarians to bed. Despite Atleti’s brilliant defensive record, they still boast one of the best attacking players in the world – Antoine Griezmann. A trip to Russia is just another opportunity to keep another clean sheet for Diego Simeone’s men. The away Win To Nil is priced up at 8/10 and should be included in all multiple bets.

1/6 Bayern Munich | 6/1 | PSV Eindhoven 25/2 (20:45)

After suffering his first defeat as Bayern Munich boss, Carlo Ancelotti will be looking for a positive response when they host PSV at the Allianz Arena. Bayern have also been clean sheet specialists at times, keeping six in their nine matches played in all competitions, at the time of writing. PSV survived their trip to Rostov, coming back with a point in their pursuit for qualification to the next round. However, Phillip Cocu’s men face a daunting trip to Germany and could see themselves battered from left to right. The home Win + Over 3.5 Goals seems well worth a punt at 8/10.

Tuesday TREBLE @ 11/2
Dortmund Win 8/10
Leicester City Win 9/10
FC Porto Win 19/20

Wednesday DOUBLE @ 28/10
Barcelona vs Manchester City Over 1.5 Goals First Half 11/10
Atletico Madrid Win To Nil 8/10

Written by Jesse Nagel