Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:01 AM
CL Best Bets - Tuesday
UEFA Champions League - Matchday 3
The Banker: Manchester City to win at 1/2
Shakhtar Donetsk have never lost at home to English opposition in the Champions League - a run that includes a win over Tuesday’s opponents Manchester City. But that fine record may come to an end in Kharkiv, where Shakhtar are now playing their home matches.
Shakhtar’s win over City ten months ago came in a very different situation. Then, City had already wrapped up top spot in their group and arrived in Ukraine with a weakened squad ahead of the following weekend’s Manchester derby.
This time, following City’s shock 2-1 defeat to Lyon on matchday one, Pep Guardiola will take his strongest possible side out for the match in an attempt to wrestle control of a group that seemed relatively straightforward.
Shakhtar conceded twice to both Hoffenheim and Lyon and appear to be lacking the defensive control that Fred exerted - he is now at City’s cross-town rivals. This could be a high-scoring game. Shakhtar tend to score in the Champions League, especially at home, and their glut of Brazilians means they play in an attractive, ambitious style. But City should have enough.
Prediction: Shakhtar Donetsk 1-3 Manchester City
The Solid Bet: Ajax at evens (1/1)
The concentration of top talent at the big clubs in England, Germany, Italy, Spain and France has meant that superpowers in smaller countries like Ajax now struggle to compete at the top level of European football. But the Dutch side have equipped themselves very impressively in their two matches so far.
They saw off group outsiders AEK Athens 3-0 before fully deserving a 1-1 draw away to Bayern Munich. They won the shots-on-target count seven to four. Now they face Benfica, and they can make it seven points from nine.
Benfica dug out a crucial win in Athens with ten men. They were 2-0 up, then pegged back to 2-2 before netting a late winner. This followed a regulation 2-0 defeat to Bayern.
Ajax have a vibrant, youthful attack now led by Moroccan sensation Hakin Ziyech, while Frenkie de Jong displays maturity beyond his years in the centre of midfield.
In what looks like being an entertaining game, back the home side to put one step in the last 16 by scoring a victory.
Prediction: Ajax 2-1 Benfica
The Outsider: Manchester United at 21/10
It used to be completely unheard of to see Manchester United priced up as outsiders at Old Trafford. And although Liverpool and Manchester City have both gone off slight favourites there in recent years, the price of 21/10 about United to beat Juventus still looks very big.
United were very close to getting their season going at Chelsea on Saturday before conceding a late equaliser in a 2-2 draw, but Jose Mourinho will have been able to have taken plenty of positives from their best performance of the season so far.
United nullified the threat of Eden Hazard, which should bode well for Cristiano’s long-awaited return to Old Trafford.
There are still big doubts over United’s defence, but the Red Devils looked dangerous going forward on Saturday with Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford both impressing.
Juventus, meanwhile, may be rather blunt in attack given the injury to Mario Mandzukic, whom Paulo Dybala prefers to play off rather than being a centre-forward himself.
This will be a close game, but United look better value at 21/10 than the 6/4 available on Juventus.
Prediction: Manchester United 1-0 Juventus
The First Goalscorer: Memphis Depay to score first at 5/1
Hoffenheim go into their match against Lyon in poor form, having lost to Manchester City, Red Bull Leipzig and Eintracht Frankfurt in their last three home games. That run may continue as a lively Lyon side make the short trip over the border.
Lyon scored the shock of the competition so far by winning away to Manchester City, and their 2-2 draw against Shakhtar Donetsk was a decent result given that they were denied the advantage of a home crowd in a match played behind closed doors.
Lyon’s key man, Nabil Fekir, is missing for this match, which means there is an opening in the market for another of Lyon’s talented front line to get on the scoresheet first.
That man could well be Memphis Depay. The 24 year-old netted in Lyon’s 2-0 win over Nîmes at the weekend and also scored in the Netherlands’ 3-0 dismantling of Germany.
Lyon look value outsiders at 9/5 here, and Depay’s pace can trouble a shaky Hoffenheim backline.
Prediction: Hoffenheim 1-2 Lyon