Ajax (19/4) v PSG (8/11)
This is a hard game to evaluate on current form. PSG have ambitions on winning the trophy while Ajax’s budget has crippled their ambitions, especially upon the European stage, but the vast budget has not prevented three teams from holding them to a draw on their travels and that makes the 8/11 offered on them passable here.
Advice: No bet.
Athletic Bilbao (10/11) v Shakhtar (18/5)
Athletic Bilbao’s progress to the latter stages of this competition could rest upon their home form and they will be looking to start with a flyer against Shaktar tonight. Bilbao took advantage of some incredibly inept defending to cruise through against Napoli but the way they competed against Barcelona until being broken down late on was very encouraging and they are more than capable of seeing off the Ukrainians, although this is not likely to be an easy encounter; the visitors have won their first six league matches.
Barcelona (1/14) v APOEL (45)
Barcelona should sweep APOEL aside with a minimum of fuss and the betting question to be answered is just how to support them doing so. There are a range of options, but for a real value run, the 4 and 5-0 options look to be the best way to go. There is a danger of Barcelona being surprised on the break but they scored 4 and 6 against Ajax and Celtic last season and should be facing a minimal threat, with their huge amounts of possession likely to suffocate the Cypriots of chances.
Advice: 1 pt Barcelona 4-0 (13/2 general), 1 pt Barcelona 5-0 (10/1 Bet Victor)
Bayern Munich (4/6) v Manchester City (9/2)
Arguably the biggest game of the night with Bayern Munich and Manchester City going into this crunch clash with plenty of question marks over both sides to add to some of the best players in Europe. Munich’s large German contingent have understandably taken some time to get back to full speed, and Guardiola’s tactical tinkering has seen them playing below the level to which we were accustomed at their peak last season. Meanwhile Manchester City have had much of the same problem and stuttered in the Premier League, with their 2-2 draw at Arsenal looking shaky after the Gunners obliteration at the hands of Dortmund last night. Neither team’s defence has been impervious, with Wolfsburg unlucky not to draw at the Allianz and City lucky to conceded just 2 at the weekend, and goals could be the way in here for those not squeamish at taking short prices – both teams to score is 4-6 at Betfair and over 3.5 – which would have landed in 3 of their 4 meetings – is also worth a look too with both sides having been unsettled by pace so far this season. At the end of the day though, the best shout could be the score draw.
Advice: 1 pt score draw (17/4 Bet Victor)
Chelsea (3/10) v Schalke (11)
Chelsea have started the season in style and should see of the challenge of struggling Schalke easily to start off their campaign. The Blues have scored 15 goals in their 4 Premier League games, recovering from slow starts against Leciester and Swansea to keep a 100% record and brushing Leicester aside. Schalke have picked up just one point out of a possible nine so far in the Bundesliga and were all t sea against Mochengladbach when being smashed 4-1 at the weekend, a big regression from a 1-1 draw against Bayern Munich the week before. Benedikt Howedes’s absence is a big blow with Joel Matip and Felipe Santana also sidelined in a big injury list and this isn’t likely to be very different than the 3-0 defeat of last season.
Advice: 4 pts Chelsea -1 (4/5 Bet365)
Maribor (18/5) v Sporting Lisbon (19/20)
This looks a game to avoid. Sporting Lisbon have won one of their first four games and have limited experience at this level, while they have failed to win any of their last 10 games on the continent. Maribor were lucky to get past Celtic in a playoff to each the group stages, and they make limited appeal even at the prices, and this should be best left.
Advice: No bet.
Porto (3/10) v BATE (12)
BATE are unlikely to be pushovers for anyone in a tight group H but they don’t excel on the road and Porto should look for three points here. Their fortunes have changed with a much needed freshening up of the squad over the summer along with a new manager in Julien Lopetugi whose Spanish contingent have made a very big impression in their opening league games. They were held toa draw by Guimares on Sunday but were robbed by a poor penalty – the first goal they have conceded in 4 games. BATE were also held at the weekend, but that was by Torpedo Zh and this is a steep step up in class.
Advice: 1 pt Porto to win to nil (10/11 Betfred)
Roma (4/6) v CSKA Moscow (11/2)
Roma are a short price to return to the Champions League with a win but that is deservedly so and they should be able to beat CSKA Moscow. Rudi Garcia’s side have made a fast start to the season with wins against Fiorentina and Empoli – they are yet to concede a goal – and can beat a CSKA side that lost their last away game.
Advice: 3 pts Roma (4/6 general)