AFTER a three week break, the Champions League returns on Tuesday. Chris Graham (@chrisgraham79) takes a look at the best bets.
APOEL Nicosia v PSG | Tuesday 19:45 | Sky Sports Interactive
I’m somewhat amazed to see the price on APOEL here – 13/2 with BetVictor looks way too big. But they’re playing PSG, Chris? Yes, very fair point. The French side achieved one of their best results in the Champions League era with a 3-2 home win over Barcelona three weeks ago.
But don’t let that disguise the fact their season has been incredibly inconsistent. Laurent Blanc’s side have won just four of their 10 Ligue 1 matches and drew with Ajax in Matchday 1 of this competition. And that’s without mentioning the absence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva! Should they really be as short as 4/9?
APOEL went to the Nou Camp on Matchday 1 and came away with just a one-goal defeat and followed that up with a home draw against Ajax. Yes, it’s not outstanding form but what it shows is that the Cypriots can match the big sides on these Champions League nights. They famously reached the quarter-finals of this competition in 2012 so won’t be overawed.
We witnessed so many shocks in the Euro 2016 qualifiers earlier this month and oddly I think it may raise the spirits of sides like APOEL in circumstances like this. I’m backing them at 43/40 with Bet365 with a goal start on the Asian Handicap. If they lose by the odd goal, I get my cash back.
Porto v Athletic Bilbao | Tuesday 19:45 | Sky Sports Interactive
The woes of Athletic Bilbao continue to rumble on. Ernesto Valverde’s side lie 17th in the La Liga table after making their worst ever start to a La Liga season having dropped yet more points at the weekend. And now they travel to Portugal to face FC Porto.
Porto have got off to solid start in this Champions League group with a draw away to Shakhtar Donetsk preceded by a 6-0 thumping of BATE Borisov. Borisov followed that up by beating Bilbao in their next game. The Portuguese side are also unbeaten in the league this season and enjoyed a 2-1 win over Braga at the weekend.
Spanish side Real Sociedad reached the Champions League group stages last year for the first time in a decade and completely fluffed their lines by picking up just one point from their six games. It may be that Athletic follow suit due to their inexperience at this level. The three other sides in the group have been regular visitors to the Champions League group stages.
Porto are 7/10 with Paddy Power to win this game and that’s another bet I’ll be getting involved with. Apologies about the short price but I did bag a 4/1 winner in Matchday 2 🙂
APOEL Nicosia v PSG – APOEL Nicosia +1 Asian Handicap (43/40 Bet365)
Porto v Athletic Bilbao – Porto to win (7/10 Paddy Power)