Ready for match day two? Of course you are. The Champions League is back tomorrow and fans will be excited for another colossal set of games in Europe’s elite club competition. In the first round of fixtures, we saw a couple of shock results but on the whole, the big boys were in fine form; I cast my eye over the action and consider a few of this week’s best bets on the tournament.
APOEL Nicosia vs TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR
Real Madrid’s clash with Borussia Dortmund will take most of the attention away from this Group H contest but that may play into Tottenham’s hands. APOEL were well beaten by Real Madrid as expected in the opening round but the Cyprus-based side will be difficult to break down on home soil.
For me, Spurs will be looking to take full advantage of this favourable fixture and an early onslaught is expected. Tottenham cannot afford to go too gung-ho in the first half but it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see Mauricio Pochettino’s men leading at the break. At 8/25 to emerge victorious, Spurs are a decent price for sticking in an accumulator.
TIP: Tottenham to win @ 8/25
MANCHESTER CITY vs Shakhtar Donetsk
Pep Guardiola’s men are unstoppable right now. City recorded another dominant victory in the Premier League on Saturday and the Blues will take some stopping in the race for the domestic title. In Europe, they got off to the perfect start against Dutch outfit Feyenoord and another impressive performance could be on the cards at the Etihad Stadium.
On paper, you’d be hard pressed to justify backing Shakhtar but the visitors could snatch an away goal if they are lucky. City’s defensive woes have somewhat vanished in recent weeks but plenty of punters will fancy Shakhtar to breach their defensive line. The 5/4 available for a home win with both teams scoring is reasonable.
TIP: Manchester City to win and both teams to score @ 5/4
Spartak Moscow vs LIVERPOOL
Liverpool will be determined to make a positive impression after failing to defeat Sevilla in their opening fixture of the group stages. Travelling to Russia is never easy but Jurgen Klopp will be quietly confident that his Reds side, priced at 4/7, can come out on top in what may be a high scoring encounter.
Spartak Moscow will be relishing the chance to go up against one of European football’s biggest powerhouses and Liverpool will be wary of the potential upset. Loris Karius will be starting in goal and a reliable defensive effort is needed. Liverpool could run away with it but by the same token, this could go right down to the wire...
TIP: Liverpool to win @ 4/7
CSKA Moscow vs MANCHESTER UNITED
Less than 24 hours later, Manchester United will also face Russian opposition in the middle of Moscow. The Red Devils have fond memories of CSKA Moscow’s stadium having won this competition there back in 2008 and United will attempt to secure their second successive European victory – a result that would see Jose Mourinho’s men take control of Group A.
CSKA also won on the opening matchday and a draw between Benfica and Basel would give United the incentive to push on and secure their spot in the next round in the near future. If the Red Devils can secure another famous win on Moscow turf, Mourinho will be confident of masterminding United to the latter stages of the competition.
TIP: Manchester United to win @ 13/25
Paris Saint-Germain vs BAYERN MUNICH
Arguably the tie of the round. Paris Saint-Germain will be raring to go as they look to prove their worth on the big stage. Remember PSG’s 4-0 victory against Barcelona last season? It wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see the French giants, now with the world’s most expensive footballer Neymar and Kylian Mbappe in their ranks, run riot at Parc des Princes.
However, if anyone can stop them it is Bayern Munich. In the context of finishing at the top of the group, a draw should play into the hands of the German side. Beating PSG in France would be lovely but Carlo Ancelotti will be more than happy with a point, especially as the Bundesliga champions are so strong at the Allianz Arena.
TIP: Bayern Munich to win OR draw @ 10/11