CL Best Bets - Wednesday
September 12, 2017
By Toby Maxtone-Smith
UEFA Champions League - Week 1 Matchday 2
The second night of Champions League football this year sees winners of three of the last four tournaments attempt to defend their title, with Real Madrid 1/25 favourites to beat APOEL Nicosia, the champions of Cyprus.
Otherwise the night’s fixtures sees the return of Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool to the competition, while 2013 finalists Borussia Dortmund face a difficult trip to London to face Tottenham Hotspur. The night promises goals, with a draw no shorter than 13/5 in any of the eight games.
Wednesday Sept. 13 - Games Scheduled for 2:45 p.m. ET
The Banker: Manchester City to beat Feyenoord at 2/5
Manchester City showed their attacking credentials with a 5-0 win against Liverpool at the weekend, their first truly convincing performance of the weekend, although they were aided by a controversial red card for Liverpool’s Sadio Mané. They travel to Rotterdam to face Feyenoord, and it is the kind of game a Pep Guardiola side should negotiate easily.
Feyenoord won the Dutch league last year, but the Eredivisie is not a league that prioritises defending. City’s attacking depth is great enough that any combination of David Silva, Bernardo Silva, De Bruyne, Sterling and Sane, along with one or both of their two forwards, will be enough to cause havoc for Feyenoord’s back line.
Even at 2/5 this shoud be an easy win for the Manchester club.
The Solid Bet: Sevilla to avoid defeat at Liverpool at 5/4
Liverpool were unfortunate in their 5-0 defeat to Manchester City, but this season they have still shown signs of a defensive naivety that could cost them dearly in the Champions League. And Sevilla, consistent winners of the Europa League and who, last year, were unluckily knocked out in the last 16, are just the kind of European pros to give Jurgen Klopp’s side a nightmare start to their campaign.
Liverpool swept past Hoffenheim in the play-off round, but Sevilla post a much sterner test. They have looked solid so far this year, conceding just once in their first three La Liga matches. Liverpool’s current team are relatively unused to big European nights together, and it would be unwise to back them at 4/6 against a team that could easily finish in the Premier League’s top six. But given that a draw would be a decent result for Sevilla, backing them to avoid defeat at 5/4 looks the best bet.
The Outsider: Borussia Dortmund to win at Tottenham Hotspur at 21/10
Perhaps the toughest Champions League group this year sees Real Madrid face off against Borussia Dortmund, Spurs and APOEL Nicosia. And for Tottenham, who are consistently given tough groups in this competition, the worst possible first match was a home game against Borussia Dortmund.
It is likely that they will lose both matches against Real Madrid - same with Dortmund - so the matches between the two clubs take on massive importance. But Spurs are still unsettled at Wembley, their temporary home while a new ground is built. And there are few teams better placed to take advantage of Spurs’s nerves than a fired-up, clinical Borussia Dortmund side.
Dortmund never play for a draw: it is not in their nature. So the match is likely to be end-to-end. And given Spurs’s disappointing inability to create big chances in their home games against Chelsea and Burnley, you have to side with Dortmund here at 21/10.
The First Goalscorer: Lorenzo Insigne for Napoli at Shakhtar Donetsk at 7/1
Shakhtar Donetsk are back in the Champions League, but the side of Willian, Fernandinho and Douglas Costa playing in the Donbass Arena are long gone. Shakhtar’s side is not so star-studded now, and due to the conflict in Eastern Ukraine they have to play their home games elsewhere in the country. All this means that Napoli go into their game there as fairly firm 23/20 favourites, and Italian winger Lorenzo Insigne looks well placed to be the first goalscorer at 7/1.
Insigne notched up 18 in Serie A last year - comfortably his best return for Napoli. This run included seven in nine games in the second half of the season. Although he is yet to get off the mark this year, his performances have been impressive and it is worth keeping the faith with him and backing him to break the deadlock.
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