Champions League 2017-18: Matchday 2, Tuesday 26th September

Real Madrid already look like retaining their title will be the focal point of their season, and they have a very difficult trip to Borussia Dortmund in what is a loaded second matchweek of the Champions League. New boss Peter Bosz has made a brilliant start to life in his new job, with Dortmund now sitting atop the Bundesliga after six games.

 

Their 6-0 thrashing of Monchengladbach at the weekend could have been doubled and no side has had a better goal difference after just six games – it’s +18 – in Bundesliga history.

Madrid’s poor start in La Liga has the feel of an aberration – they should have won all their La Liga games – but this game does not come at an ideal time for them with pressure upon Zidane for the first time since he took the helm. However, they will be encouraged by the gaps that Tottenham managed to find against Dortmund at Wembley and the high line of the hosts will be music to the ears of Cristiano Ronaldo, Asensio and Isco. Both games were 2-2 between the sides last season and this should be another high scoring game.

So too, should Liverpool’s visit to Spartak Moscow. Jurgen Klopp will be frustrated that Sevilla left Anfield with a point especially considering that Robert Firmino missed a first half penalty when they were well on top.

 

Defensive issues are their Achilles heel and nothing has changed from last season, with their latest match against Leicester yet another roller coaster ride when they quickly asserted control before the home side were let back into the game.

 

They will hope to take three points from a Spartak side that is without at least six and possibly eight first team players. They will have been disappointed not to take three points from their Matchday 1 opener with Maribor but they can have no complaints about the draw there and they are in seventh place, 13 points adrift of leaders Zenit St Petersburg.

 

With Philippe Coutinho, Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Daniel Sturridge and Roberto Firmino all vying for places goals look assured but every opponent has had a chance to get in behind Liverpool this season and the hosts should have hope of making a mark. Betfair are 7/10 on over 2/5 goals which looks a standout price.

 

Manchester City should be able to make it two wins from two, but they are sure to find Shakhtar Donetsk a tougher task then Feyenoord were two weeks ago. The Ukrainians were deeply impressive in beating Napoli on matchday one, sitting deep and frustrating the Italians before hitting them on the break, and they sit top of the Ukrainian Premier League having won eight of their 10 league games.

 

It’s also worth noting that they haven’t lost an away game in more than a year, which includes a run through both the Europa and Champions League, and they have an ideal gameplan to sit and frustrate City. Guardiola’s men have started this season brilliantly and do have the quality to break down any defence, but this will be a much tougher test than Watford and Crystal Palace for them and it’s worth remembering that Everton managed to steal a point from them earlier in the season using the same tactics, although a red card for Kyle Walker did help.

City are 4/5 to win with under 4.5 goals – basically a win with five goals or less for City – which is an interesting bet as it covers a City win upto 4-1 and a 3-1 win.

 

APOEL and Tottenham are both injury hit which may make for tough watching in Cyprus. Spurs are missing Mousa Dembele, Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen which robs them of their three most creative options to supply Harry Kane. The hosts couldn’t lay a glove on Real Madrid and they come into this test in poor form with a 1-0 home loss to Anorthosis followed by a 0-0 draw at Aris on Friday.

Under 2.5 goals is an interesting option – 17 of 24 Spurs away games in Europe have had under 2.5 and this could be a real grind.

Napoli have scored at least three goals in all six of their Serie A clashes this season and they will expect to get back on track with a win against Feyenoord, who were taken apart by Manchester City on the opening matchday, in Naples.

 

Besiktas and Red Bull Leipzig ought to serve up an entertaining clash, with the Turks coming into the game having won impressively 3-1 at Porto. Sprits ought to be high amongst the visitors too, with the return of Naby Keita’s injury and suspension coming at the perfect time after their 2-1 win over Eintracht Frankfurt at the weekend. Over 2.5 goals might be the choice with the two sides very difficult to split on paper.

 

Sevilla ought to find Maribor at home easier than their trip to Atletico Madrid, when they were frozen out defensively – although there’s not much juice in their price. Monaco have managed to refind the winning formula after their 1-1 draw in Germany against Leipzig, and they will fancy their chances of beating Porto at home. Besiktas were deserving of their 3-1 victory at the Dragao on matchday 1 and Monaco have won 17 of their last 18 in Ligue 1, with their form at the Stade Louis particularly impressive.

 

Advice

 

1 pt Over 3.5 goals in Borussia Dortmund v Real Madrid (11/10 general)

 

1 pt Over 3.5 goals in Spartak v Liverpool (6/4 general)

 

2 pts Manchester City to win & Under 4.5 goals (4/5 Betfair)