Zenit (7/10) v Monaco (5)
Zenit can continue their fantastic start to the season with victory over Monaco. Andre Villas Boas’s side were composed, controlled and clinical against Benfica on matchday 1 – albeit against 10 men for much of the game – and while Monaco sparked a revival of fortunes with their win against Leverkusen, they were lucky to win that and their flaws were exposed against Nice at the weekend and the home side can make it 2 from 2.
Advice: 1 pt Zenit (7/10 general)
Anderlecht (5) v Dortmund (4/6)
When Dortmund play with the pace and power they showed against Arsenal two weeks ago then they are a match for any team but they are struggling with injuries once again this season – Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Ilkay Gundogan,, Jakub Balaszcykowski are just some of the names sidelined – and have not won since then, making 4/6 quotes on them beating Anderlecht avoidable. However, the Germans still present a notable forward threat through the likes of Ciro Immobile and Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang and would hope to have enough firepower to break down an Anderlecht defence that held firm until the dying seconds in Turkey in fine style, while they have kept just one clean sheet in their last eight, so there could be goals.
Advice: 1 pt Over 2.5 goals (7/10 Ladbrokes)
Arsenal (4/7) v Galatasaray (57/10)
Arsenal, reeling from injuries, face a must win fixture against Galatasaray tonight that could go a long way to deciding the outcome of who qualifies from the group. Arsenal are 2/7 to do so but have failed to reach the peaks of their form from last year at any point this year apart from isolated patches against Manchester city, and despite being the better team, where underwhelming against Tottenham even accounting for a fine performance from Hugo Lloris. They must now face Galatasaray without Aaron Ramsey and Mikel Arteta, big blows even for a club with so many midfielders. Galatasaray struggled to break down Anderlecht at home and have won just one of their last three games – but the worry is that they will prove to be difficult and obdurate to break down and unders would be the bet if forced but this looks to be one to avoid.
Advice: No bet.
Atletico Madrid (7/5) v Juventus (13/5)
Another huge clash in which Juventus are the bet on a price basis. This would have been a far more confident selection had the game been played on Matchday one, but since the return of Diego Simeone – back from his 8 match ban – coincided with a dominant thrashing of Sevilla from start to finish, one of the most impressive performances seen in La Liga this season. However they face a Juventus side that has started the season in deeply impressive fashion for the fourth straight year in a row, and one that will provide a defensive test equal to the one that they give to others. Atletico’s defensive has been surprisingly open since the ban – they lost 3-2 to Olympiakos and drew 2-2 to Celta since – so it will be interesting to see how they cope facing a side that has made a seamless transition to Massimo Allegri, winning their last 9 games without conceding and going 5 from 5 in Serie A so far.
Their defensive prowess is already well known, and being in many ways a carbon copy of Atletico Madrid’s side, it feels as if these two should be much closer in the betting. It’s unlikely that more than one goal will decide this, and with Atletico very short across the board the old lady are the value choice to edge it.
Advice: 1 pt Juventus to win by 1 (4/1 Paddy Power)
Basle (11/4) v Liverpool (23/20)
Only the second game but a pivotal encounter for Liverpool, who look dreadfully short to take three points from Basel; They have have failed to win 5 of their last 7, losing to Aston Villa and West Ham while also scraping past Ludogretz at Anfield and needing a penalty shootout to beat Sheffield Wednesday in the Capital One Cup.
Basel have had to deal with top players leaving year after year but are leading the Swiss league so far and do have a fine record at home in the Champions League, having taken 10 points from their last 4 games against English sides in this competition – including Chelsea here last season. A 1-1 draw against Thun – just a couple of games after their 5-1 thumping at the hands of Real Madrid (although they won’t be the first side to suffer that fate) – may expose their imitations to a point, and Liverpool played much better against Everton on Saturday in a game they should have won with the balance of chances they made in 90 mins, although it is hard to judge the level that the Merseysiders are playing at given that Steven Gerrard’s free kick was the 14th goal they have conceded so far in the league. Basle don’t make a huge amount of appeal at 11/4 after that, and this looks a watching brief.
Advice: No bet.
Bayer Leverkusen (5/6) v Benfica (10/3)
Bayer Leverkusen’s football has torn some teams to pieces but profligacy infront of goal has seen the wheels come off the Schmidt train to some extent with a painful loss at Monaco and a thrashing at the hands of Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga the week after; Benfica lost 2-0 at home to Zenit but have since scored 6 goals in 2 games and now lead their domestic league by four points.
Despite drawing a blank at the weekend at Freiburg, Leverkusen made plenty of chances and have scored twice or more in 6 of their last 7 home games; Overs could be the way to go.
Advice: 1 pt Over 2.5 goals (31/40 Bet Victor)
Ludogrets (14/1) v Real Madrid (1/5)
Ludogorets could possibly have ben aggrieved not to steal point against Liverpool on Matchday 1, but the Merseysiders were well below form on that occasion and Real Madrid are likely to sweep them aside. Carlo Ancelotti’s men miss Angel Di Maris and Xabi Alonso but their reams of attacking talents have seen them score 20 goals in their last 4 games and they can – if they are so compelled – put a similar amount past the hosts. Back them to win both halves.
Advice: 2 pts Real Madrid to win both halves (11/10 general)
Malmo (11/4) v Olympiakos (11/10)
Olympiakos were aided by some very poor Ateltico Madrid defending in their matchday 1 victory but their overall record in Europe reads very well and they can take a victory from Malmo tonight. There is real quality in the likes of Ibrahim Afellay and Eric Abidal while Kostas Mitroglou has a solid record in all competitions here. Malmo were outclassed by Juventus on matchday 1 and look vulnerable here.
Advice: 1 pt Olympiakos (11/10 general)