Nov 27, 2018
CL Best Bets - Wednesday
UEFA Champions League - Matchday 5
The Banker: FC Porto vs. Schalke 04
Porto and Schalke look set to qualify from Group D - by far the softest section in this year’s draw. Porto sit top on ten points with Schalke on eight, and the home side can secure top spot with a win at the Estadio Dragão.
Porto have beaten more talented German teams in Bayern Munich and Red Bull Leipzig in the last two campaigns, and at a shade of odds-on they look a value bet. Their only defeat since August was a 1-0 loss at Benfica and the only points they have dropped in this competition were in a 1-1 draw in Gelsenkirchen in their opening fixture.
Schalke are struggling at the wrong end of the Bundesliga table, and their away form is of particular concern. They have not scored in any of their last three league matches away from home.
Porto have won their last four home league matches to nil and can be trusted to beat Schalke here.
Tip: FC Porto at 4/5
Prediction: FC Porto 2-0 Schalke 04
The Solid Bet: PSG vs. Liverpool
Group C is by far the most interesting group in this year’s competition. Three heavyweights - PSG, Napoli and Liverpool, are separated by just one point, and the section has been complicated by Red Star Belgrade, whom many expected to lose every match, getting four points from their opening four games.
Liverpool need four points from their last two games to guarantee qualification, and they can get at least that away to PSG, for whom an early exit would be an immense embarrassment.
Liverpool will undoutedbly attack here, but Jürgen Klopp’s side would probably take a draw, meaning that a win at home to Napoli guarantees a spot in the last 16.
PSG have received two huge boosts: Neymar and Kylian Mbappé have returned to training at the perfect time. But PSG have failed to beat a top quality side all season, and there remains a sense that Thomas Tüchel cannot get the best out of his star-studded squad. They have looked very open in their matches against Napoli and Liverpool so far, and given that this match is a must-win, expect chances at both ends.
Liverpool are in imperious form in the Premier League, and more practice against high calibre teams could prove the difference here.
Tip: Liverpool or draw double chance 3/4
Prediction: PSG 2-2 Liverpool
The Outsider: PSV Eindhoven vs. Barcelona
Barcelona have already qualifed; PSV Eindhoven cannot. This match looks something of a dead rubber, and an injury crisis at Barcelona means that the Dutch champions could be a touch of value at the Phillips Stadion.
Luis Suarez, Rafinha, Arthur and Sergi Roberto have joined Thomas Vermaelen on the sidelines for Barça, who went through a gruelling 90 minutes against Atletico Madrid at the weekend, when they needed a last minute Ousmane Dembélé goal to salvage a draw.
PSV may be on just one point from four games, but they have shown promise. They deservedly drew 2-2 at home to Spurs and lost to a late Harry Kane winner in the reverse fixture. They also took the lead at home to Inter Milan before another weak second half display.
This is a very low priority match for Barcelona, so expect Ernesto Valverde to ring the changes. At 7/2, a bet on PSV in the draw no bet market looks good value.
Tip: PSV Eindhoven draw no bet at 7/2
Prediction: PSV Eindhoven 1-1 Barcelona
The First Goalscorer: Napoli vs. Red Star Belgrade
Red Star Belgrade frustrated Napoli to a 0-0 draw on matchday one, but Carlo Ancelotti’s side have responded superbly to that opening day disappointment and now sit top of Group C. They are 1/7 to see off the Serbian champions at The Stadio San Paoli - a result that would leave them in poll position to qualify from the group.
Key to their success in the Champions League this season has been home-grown winger Lorenzo Insigne. He scored the 90th minute winer against Liverpool and also netted two of Napoli’s three goals in the matches against PSG - two draws. He has already scored seven in Serie A this year and looks better value to score first than Dries Mertens, who is on a five-match barren run.
TIp: Lorenzo Insigne to score first at 11/4
Prediction: Napoli 3-0 Red Star Belgrade