CL Best Bets - Tuesday
December 4, 2017
By Toby Maxtone-Smith
UEFA Champions League- Matchday 6
With just one round of matches to go in this year’s Champions League group stage, the big guns are all safely through to the next round. Paris Saint-Germain remain the 7/2 favourites to win the tournament after scoring 24 goals in their five games so far, conceding just one.
Next come Manchester City at 9/2, followed by Spanish giants Real Madrid at 11/2 and Barcelona at 6/1. Then it’s Bayern Munich 8/1. Longer than 10/1 are Manchester United and Tottenham at 16/1, Juventus and Chelsea at 20/1, Liverpool at 25/1, Roma at a relativelt attractive-looking 66/1 and Napoli 80/1.
But even though many teams are already through, there is still a fair amount to be settled over the next two nights of football.
Tuesday Dec. 5 - Games Scheduled for 2:45 p.m. ET
The Banker: Barcelona to beat Sporting Lisbon at 4/9
Barcelone have already qualified and are likely to rest a few players. Sporting Lisbon need to win to have a chance of qualifying. On the face of it, backing Barcelona at 4/9 looks like a trap.
But I do not believe this is so. Sporting need to win and hope Juventus fail to win away to Olympiakos, where they are 2/7 favourites. If Juventus go ahead early, then Sporting could well become demoralised at the size of their task. They are 13/2 to win but would probably be more like 14/1 if this were the first game of the campaign.
Barcelona, even when resting a handful of key players, are still a miles better side than Sporting and could enjoy playing a team that has given up any hope of qualifying. At 4/9 - and on the handicap - Barcelona represent value.
The Solid Bet: Chelsea to beat Atletico Madrid at 11/10
Chelsea need to beat Atletico Madrid to win their group, and this could matter hugely. The number of English teams set to win their sections means that the Blues would have an unappealing choice of PSG, Barcelona and Besiktas in the last sixteen should they finish second. They welcome Atletico Madrid to Stamford Bridge - they are the only team to have beaten Atletico in 21 games this year after a fine 2-1 win in Madrid in September.
In that game, Chelsea made Diego Simeone’s men look ordinary, and although it took a winner with the match’s last kick to seal the points, it would be reasonable to suggest that Chelsea are a marginally better team than Atletico. So at 11/10, with so much more to play for than their opponents and with Eden Hazard in the form of his life, Chelsea look a good bet.
The Outsider: PSG to win at Bayern Munich at 7/4
PSG have raced into the lead in the betting for this tournament after a stunning series of displays in their opening five matches. Their five results so far have been: 5-0, 3-0, 4-0, 5-0 and 7-1, with only Celtic’s Mousa Dembélé managing to score past them.
They and Bayern Munich have already qualified from an absurdly lopsided group that well represents the wealth and status gap between Europe’s haves and have-nots.
But despite soundly beating Bayern 3-0 in Paris, PSG go in as 7/4 outsiders with Bayern 6/4. Part of this is down to the absence of Edinson Cavani, but in Neymar and Kylian Mbappé there is still more than enough in the PSG attack to hurt Bayern. As neither side really needs a win, this could become a very free-flowing, entertaining game. This would help PSG, the more naturally talented side, and it is worth getting them onside.
The First Goalscorer: Mousa Dembélé for Celtic against Anderlecht at 7/2
Celtic are almost certain to claim the Europa League spot in Group B after beating Anderlecht 3-0 away on matchday two, but European nights are still big occasions at Celtic Park even when there appears to be little at stake.
The 3-0 in Brussels was a fully deserved victory, and although both sides have struggled about equally against the group’s two behemoths, Celtic are worthy odds-on favourites here at 17/20. And the man who looks best place to score the game’s first goal is Mousa Dembélé, who gave the Scottish side a shock lead in Paris. He has hit a rich vein of form, scoring seven in his last eight games, and is comfortably the best player in the Scottish Premier League.
At 7/2 he is a good bet to score first.
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