Two fixtures tickle our fancy for Matchday 2’s Tuesday action…
19.45 Borussia Dortmund v Real Madrid
For those of us without the necessary TV package in place, this match might only show itself by way of a five-minute highlight reel toward the end of regular programming. Which is an awful shame as this tie has all the ingredients required for a top, top, top game.
Runners-up in the Bundesliga last season, Dortmund have been laying waste to all opponents of late. Their last four matches (all wins) have seen them score 20 and concede just 2, a ratio that any side would kill for. Their main man, the wonderfully named Pierre-Emerick Aubameyange (who may be playing in white soon), has bagged six goals in all competitions but the burden to score is not his alone as 12 different players have already scored for them this season. Ramos and the Madrid defense should be in for a rough night.
Form on the slide
Madrid’s win against Espanyol the weekend before last saw them equal Barcelona’s record of 16 consecutive La Liga wins and los Blancos were being hailed in some quarters as an unstoppable machine. Those notions have been put back in their box by way of their two games since which has seen them drop four points through two draws, both with Villarreal and the plucky lads from the Canaries, Las Palmas.
Injuries, too, have compromised the availability of Caemiro, Pepe and Marcelo – key players in the first team. Weirdly for Real, goals have been relatively hard to come by for their star men as evidenced by the fact that Ramos is their lead scorer with three. Whatever way you cut it up, it’s fair to say that their form isn’t great coming into this tie and injuries coupled with some indifferent form makes the trip to Germany all the more daunting.
Borussia have an excellent home record against Madrid and will be confident of adding to it. With their attack functioning like tornado of blades, they will look to cut the injury-hit defense of their visitors to shreds and it would be something of a shock if Madrid managed to hold them to nil. Of course, to write off the attacking and goal-scoring potential of Real is to be wilfully ignorant but the Germans have the form book on their side. A scored draw is not unlikely but we’re going to back the home side on this one. The market concurs with the best price around coming from Bet365 at 8/5.
For the Best Prices, Bet on all Champions League games at Bet365
19.45 Leicester City v Porto
An impressive away victory over Club Brugge in their first CL tie was followed by a handsome 3-0 win in the BPL some days after. However, having seemingly pulled themselves back together after a shaky opening to their season, Leicester proceeded to lose their last two games with their previously tight defense shipping eight goals in the process. Italian boss, Claudio Ranieri, realizing that their last game was beyond them, took both Vardy and Mahrez off at half-time and he will hope this move might add a little jet fuel to their heels in this tie.
Porto, to the surprise of most, only managed a draw against FC Copenhagen in their opening CL tie and that with the Danes down to 10 men, too. But a look at their domestic form thus far paints a less than impressive picture. An early season loss to perennial rivals, Sporting Lisbon, did little to raise the spirits whilst a goal-free draw away to bottom-of-the-league Tondela has similarly soured the mood.
Weight of history
In tandem with the woes outlined above, Porto will also be painfully aware that, illustrious though their history is, they have never won in England. Recent results would suggest that this is not likely to change any time soon. A win for Leicester here would go a long way toward assuring them of qualifying from their group in first place, theoretically giving them an easier team in the first round of knock-out football. It’s a place worth fighting for as any Arsenal fan will tell you.
Neither team comes into this contest with much form but one suspects that the away side will be content to keep things tight and not overly expose themselves. This approach will mean that both Mahrez and Drinkwater will have to make full use of their not inconsiderable skills to pick open a packed defense for their strikers to prosper. This column reckons that they should be able to do so. The best price for a Leicester win is 13/10.