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UEFA Champions League Preview

It's Matchday 5 of the UEFA Champions League and there's loads of enticing odds on offer.
It's Matchday 5 of the UEFA Champions League and there's loads of enticing odds on offer.
Matchday 5 of the UEFA Champions League is fast-approaching with Europe’s elite competition already taking shape. Just five teams have already clinched their spot in the next round which are Group A hotshots, Arsenal and PSG, along with Group D heavyweights, Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid, while Borussia Dortmund also find themselves in the next stage of the tournament. Matchday 4 produced some cracking encounters, with Arsenal, PSG, Bayern and Atletico all needing late goals to ensure qualification. Undoubtedly the tie of the round saw Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City finally get a victory over his former club, Barcelona, with the Citizens humbling the Catalans by a 3-1 scoreline. Matchday 5 is expected to be another humdinger week with Sevilla hosting Juventus, while PSG and Arsenal will be battling it out for top spot in Group A. Let’s see if I can keep up my impressive form and produce yet another winning multiple – just like the last two matchdays.

Tuesday 22 November

Group E

9/4 CSKA Moscow | Draw 47/20 | Bayer Leverkusen 23/20 (19:00)

Group E is looking ever-so-tight at the top of the standings. However, CSKA Moscow are not part of the conversation when it comes to talking about the top of their group. The Horses have been well under-par, failing to win in four attempts with two draws. Bayer Leverkusen remain undefeated in the group and picked up their first victory of the campaign when they beat Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 at Wembley Stadium last time out. Roger Schmidt’s side are now in second place in Group E, just two points behind the leaders. Get on the Away Totals – Over 1.5 Goals at 21/20.

15/10 Monaco | 22/10 | Tottenham 18/10 (21:45)

Group E leaders, Monaco, are on a joy ride in the UEFA Champions League. Undefeated in all four matches, Leonardo Jardim’s men have been a joy to watch. They come up against Tottenham, who they managed a 2-1 victory over at Wembley on Matchday 1. Spurs will look to return the favour at the Stade Louis II, knowing that anything less than a win would put them in a sticky situation heading into the final gameweek. One advantage for Spurs will be to have a fully fit Harry Kane in their ranks, with the Englishman playing just 73 minutes in seven weeks, at the time of writing. Tottenham should come out guns blazing in this tie, however, Monaco will be looking to keep their unbeaten run intact. Play it safe and back Both Teams to Score at 8/10.

Group F

1/10 Dortmund | 8/1 | Legia Warsaw 20/1 (21:45)

High-flying Borussia Dortmund will look to keep up their impressive Champions League form when they host Legia Warsaw at the Westfalenstadion. BVB lead the way in Group F by two points after Legia staged one of the upsets of the season to hold Real Madrid to a 3-3 scoreline in Poland. With qualification already in the bag, Dortmund will look to solidify their top spot. The reverse tie ended 6-0 in favour of the yellow and black army. That said, another goal fest is expected with Over 1.5 Goals in the First Half tipped at 7/10.

17/4 Sporting | 33/10 | Real Madrid 11/20 (21:45)

Sporting will welcome the return of boyhood star, Cristiano Ronaldo, when they host Real Madrid in Lisbon. Just five points separate these sides with only two games left in the group. Los Blancos remain undefeated, despite suffering a hiccup in their last encounter, drawing 3-3 to Legia Warsaw. Sporting were thwarted last time out as an Adrian Ramos header sunk the Portuguese side to a 1-0 defeat. The last time these side met, Ronaldo netted with a trademark free-kick to start a late comeback in which Alvaro Morata finished off with a stoppage time header to win the match 2-1. I would recommend taking Ronaldo as an Anytime Goalscorer, but to play it safe, back Los Blancos for the all-important victory at 11/20.

Group G

4/10 Leicester City | 34/10 | Club Brugge 6/1 (21:45)

English champions, Leicester City, will look to progress to the next round, with just a point separating themselves with the Round of 16. The Foxes have maintained last season’s domestic form and transferred it into their UEFA Champions League campaign. Claudio Ranieri’s men are one of two sides yet to concede a goal so far in the tournament. Club Brugge have been nothing more than whipping boys in Group G. Four losses from as many games with just a goal to their name, shows that Club Brugge will soon be out of Europe’s elite tournament. The reverse tie ended in a 3-0 drubbing for the Belgium-based side. That said, get on another win for Leicester City and include in all multiples.

16/10 FC Copenhagen | 21/10 | Porto 7/4 (21:45)

Group G is looking extremely tight, with FC Copenhagen just two points behind second-place FC Porto. The duo both come off impressive results, with the Lions cancelling out Leicester City, while Porto managed a 1-0 victory over Club Brugge. Copenhagen are yet to concede at home, while Porto have earned three points from two games on their travels this campaign. Just like the reverse fixture which ended in a 1-1 scoreline, this is going to be another tight affair. Despite the fairly short price, back Under 2.5 Goals at 6/10.

Group H

5/1 Dinamo Zagreb | 3/1 | Lyon 11/20 (21:45)

Lyon will be looking to make some ground over Sevilla and Juventus in Group H when they travel to Croatia to take on Dinamo Zagreb. Statistically, Dinamo are the worst side in the UEFA Champions League tournament, suffering four defeats, conceding 12 goals without finding the back of the net. Lyon are winless since Matchday 1, but earned an emphatic 1-1 draw at Juventus last time out. If Lyon fail to win this one, they will have no chance of finishing in the top two. That said, a draw will see the French side advance into the UEFA Europa League. I’m backing Lyon to push all the way with a victory here at 11/20.

17/10 Sevilla | 21/10 | Juventus 33/20 (21:45)

Many expected Group H to be a one-horse race at the start of the tournament, with Juventus being tipped by many to lead the way. Sevilla have defied the odds, setting the pace in the group with 10 points from four games. Jorge Sampaoli’s side haven’t conceded a goal in the Champions League this season. Juventus haven’t been their rampant selves, drawing two of the four matches. However, a win for the Old Lady will see them through to the next round. A draw will be good enough for Sevilla, but a win will see the Spanish side ensure top spot in the group. These sides played out to a goalless scoreline in the previous meeting, with my tip leaning towards the same wavelength. Avoid picking a winner in this one and back Under 2.5 Goals at 13/20.

Wednesday 23 November

Group A

33/20 Ludogorets | 43/20 | FC Basel 33/20 (21:45)

With the knockout stages out of reach for both Ludogorets and FC Basel, UEFA Europa League is now the target. Whoever wins this one will remain in European football, going straight to the Europa. Their Matchday 1 meeting ended all square at 1-1, but performance-wise, Ludogorets have impressed me more. They almost earned a point against Arsenal, until a late Mesut Ozil masterpiece put the Bulgarian side to bed. I’m chasing value in this one, with Ludogorets tipped to make home advantage count with the Win + Both Teams to Score at 31/10.

5/4 Arsenal | 23/10 | Paris Saint-Germain 21/10 (21:45)

Arsenal host Paris Saint-Germain with both teams setting sights on top spot in Group A. With the duo already through to the next round, there’s just first place to fight for now. From the four games played so far, the Gunners and PSG have been equally brilliant with 10 points apiece, winning three times with a single draw to their names, which came when they met on Matchday 1 in Paris. Arsenal have outmatched them in one department, though, scoring three goals more than their counterparts. Arsenal have lost just once in eight months and are undefeated in 16 matches in all competitions, at the time of writing. With that being said, back the Gunners to top Group A with a win.

Group B

33/20 Besiktas | 43/20 | Benfica 33/20 (19:45)

Besiktas will be looking for a top two spot when they host Benfica at the Vodafone Arena. Besiktas are the only undefeated team in the group, despite being third with three draws. Benfica have won two consecutive matches in the group, climbing into second spot behind Napoli. A third consecutive win for the Eagles will see them through to the next round. They face an uphill battle against a Besiktas side who equalised in stoppage time to end the game at 1-1 the last time these sides met. This is likely to be another cagey affair, with Under 2.5 Goals tipped at 15/20.

4/10 Napoli | 7/2 | Dynamo Kyiv 6/1 (21:45)

Group B leaders, Napoli, head into this game with just a victory needed to ensure qualification to the next round. Their opponents, Dynamo Kyiv, will need nothing less than a win to keep their Champions League hopes alive. The top two seems a long way out of reach for Dynamo who have just one point – six behind Napoli. The Naples are on top, but have failed to convince me. They’ve scored the most goals (9) but have conceded the most as well (7) which proves that they have defensive woes which Dynamo will look to capitalize on. However, one cannot see Maurizio Sarri’s side dropping points against the group’s lowest team. The home win is tipped.

Group C

17/2 Celtic | 47/10 | Barcelona 1/4 (21:45)

Barcelona will be looking to seal their spot in the next round with a win over Celtic. The Catalans could also go through if they draw and Manchester City do not lose in the other Group C match. Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic side were humiliated on Matchday 1 against Barca, losing 7-0 at the Nou Camp. This is a must-win game for Celtic who are down in fourth spot, being the only team yet to win in the group. Barca are a banker at 1/4, but for value, back the Away Totals – Over 2.5 Goals at 9/10.

3/1 Monchengladbach | 26/10 | Manchester City 8/10 (21:45)

Monchengladbach will be looking to make some ground on the top two when they host Manchester City at Borussia-Park. The reverse tie ended 4-0 in favour of the Citizens, with Gladbach looking absolutely dreadful for the entire 90 minutes. Andre Schubert will need a turnaround performance from his side if they are to avoid City getting the win that would seal their spot in the next round. However, Pep Guardiola is a master tactician and his side come off the back of an impressive 3-1 win over Barcelona in the Champions League. The away win offers decent value and is well worth a punt at 8/10.

Group D

11/1 FC Rostov | 5/1 | Bayern Munich 2/9 (19:00)

With Group D already settled, FC Rostov will be looking to remain in a European tournament by finishing third place and going into the UEFA Europa League. Rostov were thwarted last time out by the last kick of the game as Antoine Griezmann snatched a late victory for Atletico Madrid to leave the Russian outfit down in the dirt. Bayern Munich will need nothing less than a win to have any shot at top spot in the group. The Bavarians have scored 11 goals in Group D, six more than the team that scored the second most. Over 2.5 Goals is priced up at 11/20 and should be included in all your midweek multiples.

1/4 Atletico Madrid | 17/4 | PSV Eindhoven 10/1 (21:45)

Atletico Madrid will look to keep their 100% record intact when they host PSV. The Dutch side have been a worry for Diego Simeone’s men, with the teams meeting in last season Champions League in the Round of 16 – both games ending in 0-0 scorelines. Atleti did manage a 1-0 victory over PSV on Matchday 1, though, and will be looking to keep their rock-solid defence in top form. However, I worry that their weekend Madrid Derby against Real Madrid could take a lot out of them, along with the fact that they’ve already qualified to the next round, we could see a slightly underperforming Atleti side. I would suggest you follow the recent meetings between the two giants and back Under 2.5 Goals at even money.

Real Madrid Win 11/20
Leicester City Win 4/10
Dortmund vs Legia Over 1.5 Goals 1st Half 7/10
Sevilla vs Juventus Under 2.5 Goals 13/20

Napoli Win 4/10
Manchester City Win 8/10
Rostov vs Bayern Over 2.5 Goals 11/20
Atletico vs PSV Under 2.5 Goals 1/1

Written by Jesse Nagel