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UEFA Champions League Preview

It's the final matchday of the group stages and as always, there's loads of value on offer.
It's the final matchday of the group stages and as always, there's loads of value on offer.
As the UEFA Champions League group stages conclude, four spots remain open in the Round of 16, with 12 teams already through to the next phase of the competition. Spanish giants, Atletico Madrid and Barcelona, both qualify from their group as winners, while English champions Leicester City and French heavyweights, Monaco, also prevail as leaders. Arsenal, Bayer Leverkusen, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Juventus, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid are the other teams that are through to the business end of the tournament. That said, the likes of Celtic, Club Brugge, Dinamo Zagreb and Dynamo Kyiv don’t even have a chance of UEFA Europa League action for the remainder of the season. The final group matches are upon us with the big games being the tie between Bayern Munich and Atletico, while Real Madrid battle it out with Dortmund for top spot in Group F.

Tuesday 6 December

Group A

1/8 Paris Saint-Germain | Draw 7/1 | Ludogorets 19/1 (21:45)

Paris Saint-Germain come into this fixture with 11 points, knowing that a win would seal top spot. They lead Arsenal on a head-to-head advantage with away goals, so Unai Emery will need his charges not to make any slip-up in their final game of the group stage. Ludogorets have the head-to-head advantage over Basel on away goals so they will seal third spot with a victory. As unlikely as that sounds, the Bulgarian side showed that they are capable of springing an upset, going two goals ahead in their second match against Arsenal. The game ended as a 3-2 loss for Ludogorets, but performance-wise, Georgi Dermendzhiev’s men were difficult to beat. I’m going for a very bold Both Teams to Score tip here at a valuable 29/20.

39/20 FC Basel | 24/10 | Arsenal 13/10 (21:45)

Things are not looking so good for Basel in the Champions League, with their third-spot rivals, Ludogorets, bettering them in the head-to-head department. As mentioned earlier, Basel need to outmatch Ludogorets’ result against PSG to ensure qualification to the UEFA Europa League. For Arsenal, though, they’ll be gunning for top spot and will also need to better PSG’s result. Granit Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny partnered each other in the middle of the park last weekend and are both likely to be given the chance once more against their former club. I’m expecting a low-scoring affair here, with Under 2.5 Goals tipped at 19/20.

Group B

14/10 Benfica | 47/20 | Napoli 37/20 (21:45)

Group B leaders, Napoli and Benfica, battle it out for top spot. Napoli beat Benfica on Matchday 2 so they will qualify with a draw. The winner of this game will go through in first place, and both will advance to the next round if Besiktas lose their match against Dynamo Kyiv. The Naples managed a 4-2 win over the Eagles in their previous encounter, but could find it difficult to replicate that without Arkadiusz Milik, who is still out with an injury. This should be one of the more entertaining fixtures of the round, with Over 2.5 Goals tipped at 9/10.

43/20 Dynamo Kyiv | 9/4 | Besiktas 5/4 (21:45)

Dynamo Kyiv’s European tournament hopes were crushed last time out as they drew 0-0 with Napoli on Matchday 5. Now on just two points, Kyiv have no chance of getting out their group and will finish rock-bottom, regardless if they win. Besiktas are still undefeated in the group, and came back from three goals down against Benfica to end the game at 3-3. Besiktas are not only undefeated in the Champions League, but in their domestic league as well. At 5/4, they’re full value to get the win and keep up their impressive record.

Group C

3/10 Manchester City | 9/2 | Celtic 15/2 (21:45)

Manchester City snatched a point in Germany against Monchengladbach to ensure qualification in Pep Guardiola’s first season in charge. They finish second behind Barcelona, though, being four points behind with just a single game left to play. Celtic on the other hand, don’t even stand a chance of Europa League football after their 2-0 home loss to Barca. City are likely to rest players for their final game, with players like Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva all destined to be given a break. I’m going with Celtic on the First Half Double Chance at even money.

3/10 Barcelona | 47/10 | Monchengladbach 15/2 (21:45)

As I mentioned before, Group C is already settled. Barcelona claim top spot, while their opponents, Monchengladbach, will advance through to the Europa League. Barca are likely to rest a number of key players with Luis Enrique’s men playing in the El Clasico against Real Madrid just three days before this. Monchengladbach will look to end their Champions League campaign off in style as they prepare to move over to Thursday night football. They took the lead against Barca in the first encounter these two played out and I’m expecting yet another goal feast. Both Teams to Score is tipped at 7/10.

Group D

6/10 Bayern Munich | 29/10 | Atletico Madrid 17/4 (21:45)

Bayern Munich host Atletico Madrid knowing that top spot is out of reach for Carlo Ancelotti and his side. Bayern suffered their second loss of the campaign against FC Rostov, losing 3-2, while Atleti kept up their 100% record with a fifth successive victory, beating PSV by a 2-0 scoreline. Bayern haven’t been at their very best this season and will need to pick things up in the knockout phase. That said, Atletico can put out any team and are still difficult to beat. If you’re looking for goals, I suggest you look elsewhere. My money is on Under 2.5 Goals here at 19/20.

6/10 PSV Eindhoven | 29/10 | FC Rostov 17/4 (21:45)

The race for first and second in Group D is over, but PSV and FC Rostov will be battling it out to see who finishes off in third spot. It’s a must-win game for Phillip Cocu’s men, who are in fourth position – three points behind their counterparts. Rostov claimed one of the shocks of the season with their 3-2 win over Bayern Munich. A fluke like that can only happen once every blue moon. Away from home, Rostov should go down. Back PSV at 6/10; this is one of my more confident tips.

Wednesday 7 December

Group E

5/10 Tottenham | 31/10 | CSKA Moscow 11/2 (21:45)

What a disappointing season it has been for Tottenham. Mauricio Pochettino’s side came into the UEFA Champions League with high hopes after their Premier League title challenge last season. It has been anything but as Spurs could find themselves out of a European competition with a loss. Top two is out of reach, but anything but a loss would see Spurs through to the Europa League. CSKA Moscow are winless in the group, but will have the slightest bit of confidence knowing that Spurs haven’t won a game at Wembley so far. It’s tough to call, but Spurs should do enough to claim a vital victory.

8/10 Bayer Leverkusen | 26/10 | Monaco 32/10 (21:45)

Both Bayer Leverkusen and Monaco are through to the next round of the Champions League. It’s the French giants who sealed top spot, though, with a 2-1 win over Spurs last time out. Leverkusen may have drawn against CSKA last game, but they have been a joy to watch this season. Both sides are undefeated and Monaco have been Europe’s highest scoring team with 43 goals in the French Ligue 1. Over 2.5 Goals is priced up at 15/20 and looks well worth a strike!

Group F

33/10 Legia Warsaw | 11/4 | Sporting 15/20 (21:45)

Legia Warsaw come off a resounding 8-4 defeat against Borussia Dortmund, while Sporting were also left disappointed in their 2-1 loss to Real Madrid. For these sides, there’s just third spot to fight for now. Sporting are two points ahead of Legia, which means a win for the home side could see the Portuguese giants kicked out of any European competition. Sporting claimed a 2-0 win over Legia on Matchday 2 and will be looking to replicate that feat. It’s proven that there is likely to be goals in a game that Legia are involved in, with Over 3.5 Goals tipped at a valuable 16/10.

8/10 Real Madrid | 29/10 | Dortmund 29/10 (21:45)

Real Madrid have been excellent so far this season and face a stern test against Borussia Dortmund who come off a record-breaking 12-goal thriller against Legia Warsaw. Los Blancos are two points behind Dortmund, meaning that they have to win to ensure top spot in Group F. At the time of writing, Real Madrid are 31 games unbeaten and have scored in 24 consecutive matches. Dortmund are the highest scoring team in the Champions League with 19 goals in five games. I like the look of a 2-2 draw at 9/1, but play it safe and back a straight draw at 29/10.

Group G

7/20 Porto | 15/4 | Leicester City 15/2 (21:45)

Porto come into the final Matchday just two points ahead of third-placed FC Copenhagen. Leicester City are already through to the knockout stages, claiming top spot. Porto know that they need nothing less than a win as Copenhagen have a better head-to-head record over them and are likely to beat Club Brugge. However, Leicester are no pushovers in the Champions League and are still expected to lineup with a lot of their first team players. Both Teams to Score: No is my prediction at 6/10.

26/10 Club Brugge | 49/20 | FC Copenhagen 1/1 (21:45)

Club Brugge have had a dismal Champions League campaign. Michel Preud'homme’s side are yet to pick up a point, conceding 12 goals in five matches. At the time of writing, FC Copenhagen have kept four clean sheets in their last five games in all competitions. Not to mention, they’ve kept two consecutive clean sheets in the group stages, drawing blank with both FC Porto and Leicester City. Copenhagen have a head-to-head advantage over Porto on away goals so will come second if they win and Porto do not. I’m chasing value here, with the Away Win to Nil market tipped at 43/20.

Group H

29/20 Lyon | 9/4 | Sevilla 18/10 (21:45)

After some superb display in the Champions League this season, Sevilla are still not entirely safe. Lyon must overcome the Sevillistas by a margin of two goals or more to grab second spot ahead of their visitors. Lyon will be chasing second place, while Sevilla still have an eye for the top of the pile, being just a point behind Juventus. Jorge Sampaoli’s Sevilla outfit won 1-0 the last time these sides met and will be looking to replicate that performance. However, in the city of Lyon, it could be tough. That said, these sides are tipped to split the spoils at a valuable 9/4.

1/10 Juventus | 7/1 | Dinamo Zagreb 24/1 (21:45)

Juventus have the more favoured fixture in the final Matchday. Dinamo Zagreb are statistically the worst team in the tournament, conceding 13 goals, while failing to score a single goal. Juventus are undefeated in the group and can afford to let a few of the second-string players get the opportunity to play. That said, I get the feeling that Zagreb could break their goalscoring draught. Dinamo have no chance of getting anything out this group and will finish rock-bottom. Once again, I’ll be chasing value here, backing Juventus to Win + Both Teams to Score at 5/4.

Tuesday QUAD @ 12/1
Bayern Munich vs Atletico Madrid Under 2.5 Goals 19/20
Besiktas Win 5/4
Benfica vs Napoli Over 2.5 Goals 9/10
PSV Win 6/10

Wednesday TREBLE @ 5/1
Tottenham Win 5/10
Juventus Win & BTTS 5/4
Bayer Leverkusen vs Monaco Over 2.5 Goals 15/20

Written by Jesse Nagel