So, the end is near for half of the teams in this year’s Champions League. After a clean sweep in the last gameweek, we’re back with some fresh tips for you. The business end awaits us after the Christmas break but there is plenty to be decided this week before we know which names are in the hat for the knockout stages draw on Monday December 14th.
Tuesday December 8th
Group A is essentially done and dusted. Réal Madrid (group winners) and Paris Saint Germain are headed to the round-of-16 and Malmo and Shakhtar Donetsk are heading home. Both matches this week are meaningless and I would steer away from having a bet on either of them
Group B on the other hand is fascinatingly poised. Wolfsburg, Man. United, and PSV Eindhoven can all go through, sitting on nine, eight, and seven points respectively, with Wolfsburg welcoming Man. United and Eindhoven at home to CSKA Moscow. Man. United are missing Wayne Rooney and their toothless attack will struggle, especially given Wolfsburg have conceded less than a goal per game at home this season. A draw will put them through, and I can see them hanging on and, sadly for United fans, I think they’ll bow out tonight and the pressure on Louis van Gaal will increase. My recommendation is Wolfsburg to win to nil at 3/1 with BetVictor.
In group C, Benfica and Atletico Madrid are heading through. They’re level on 10 points each, and play each other in Portugal tonight. A 2-1 win for Benfica in Madrid puts them in the driving seat in terms of tiebreakers and means that a draw will see them go through as group winners. Simeone’s men have nothing to lose and will go hell for leather to try and win the group. With the likes of Diego Godin getting forward often, Atleti are sure to leave gaps at the back, so I’m looking at both teams to score at 23/20 with BetVictor.
In group D, Manchester City have a chance to go through as group winners if they can beat Borussia Monchengladbach at home, and hope that Sevilla beat Juventus in Spain. Borussia trounced Bayern Munich at the weekend, and Sevilla are low on confidence this year and have been pretty poor all around the pitch. I don’t like the look of any bets here. Juve should go through as winners with City as runners-up.
Wednesday December 9th
Looking firstly at group E. Barcelona are through as clear winners leaving Bayer Leverkusen and Roma fighting it out for the runner up spot. Roma play BATE Borisov at home, while Bayer welcome Barcelona. The tie breaker scenario has Roma ahead by one goal. All they have to do is match Bayer’s result and they’re through. That means Bayer really have to go for it, and will be playing a high line from the start. This will really suit Luis Suarez running off the last defender and so we’re going to go for Suarez first to score at 9/2.
In group F, Bayern Munich are home and dry. Olympiakos are in the driving seat for the runner up spot. They host Arsenal and as well as leading them by three points, they also have a goal advantage in the tiebreakers and scored two at the Emirates. All of that means that for Arsenal to go through, they need to win by 2 clear goals. However, a 3-2 victory would see them go through on the basis that they have the better overall goal difference in the group than Olympiakos. They have an injury list as long as your arm, and I don’t think it’s going to happen. Can’t find a bet that I like here.
Can it get any worse for Chelsea? They’re almost relegation strugglers in the English Premier League and have a tricky final group game at home to Porto, where really only a win guarantee’s them going through. They’re level on 10 points with Porto but Dynamo Kiev are breathing down their necks on 8 points and are hosting Maccabi Tel Aviv. Interestingly, Kiev hold the tie breaker advantage over Chelsea, but Chelsea hold it over Porto, so if all three teams finish on 11 points, Porto would go to the Europa League with Kiev winning the group. The bookies still haven’t adjusted their prices enough to reflect how low Chelsea are at the moment. I’m going with a double chance with Porto-Draw at 4/5.
In group H, Zenit are through having won every game so far. New Valencia manager has a great chance to qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League in his very first game! A win at home against struggling Lyon would put them through, provided Gent don’t beat Zenit in Belgium. Valencia will be high on confidence after their 1-1 draw with Barcelona on Saturday, but they didn’t look like they had much to offer going forward. I think they’ll be buoyed by the new manager and get the job done and I think Zenit will do enough to help them through to the knockout stages. Valencia to qualify at 5/4 here.