THE Champions League strolled back onto our screens in midweek, provoking plenty of talking points. Here we analyse some of the key findings from matchday one…
Arsenal already playing catch-up
The Gunners were taken apart by Dortmund in the Westfalenstadion and must now face up to the prospect that no eventual Champions League winner has kicked-off their campaign with a defeat.
The loss also saw Arsene Wenger’s team leak at least two goals for the 11th time in their past 19 away days in the Champions League, a statistic the Frenchman will be keen to stamp out ahead of a tough trip to Galatasaray later in the group. With defensive deficiencies and injuries taking their toll on the Gunners, the 4/1 from Coral on Aston Villa beating Arsenal on Saturday has legs.
Olympiakos remain a threat in Piraeus
Atletico Madrid came crashing down to earth following their derby day victory at Real Madrid on Saturday night. The La Liga champions were seen off 3-2 by Greek giants Olympiakos and the Athens port of Piraeus was jumping.
It means the hosts have now won eight of their last 10 home Champions League fixtures and made a mockery of their 19/5 pre-match quotes from Boylesports. Diego Simeone watched on helplessly from the stands as his team were outbattled but they won’t be the last team to fall at the Karaiskakis Stadium – you’ve been warned, Juventus.
Roma aren’t here to make up the Group E numbers
Roma hammered CSKA Moscow in the Italian capital to send out a clear signal of intent to Group E rivals Bayern Munich and Manchester City. Rudi Garcia’s team suffered just five defeats on their way to a second-place finish in Serie A last season, accumulating a points tally that would have seen them crowned champions in five of the last seasons.
The Wolves have started the new campaign as they left off in 2013-14 with three wins from three in all competitions and deserve maximum respect from their rivals and layers. A trip to the Etihad is next on the agenda with Roma an attractive 17/4 proposition with Bet365 to claim maximum points whilst 11/8 is still on offer for Garcia’s men to qualify.
Ludogorets are handicap material
Those ‘in the know’ were far from surprised by Ludogorets’ performance at Anfied. The Bulgarians made Liverpool toil on their return to the Champions League and they almost snatched a point at the death despite being written off as 16/1 no-hopers.
However, it’s worth noting that Ludogorets won all three away games in last season’s Europa League group phase and have only lost by two or more goals in one of their last 13 away days in Europe. They’re stubborn opponents and know how to frustrate their more illustrious opponents. Next up, they host Real Madrid with Ludogorets +2 available at 19/20 on the Asian Handicap with BetVictor.