MATCHDAY 5 of the Champions League begins on Tuesday. We got Chris Graham (@chrisgraham79) to give us his two best bets.
CSKA Moscow v Roma | Tuesday 17:00 | Sky Sports 5
2-0 down at home to Man City on Matchday 3, CSKA Moscow were getting read the Champions League last rites. Two late goals in that game, followed by an astonishing win at the Etihad two weeks ago has dramatically resuscitated the Russians. They’re right back in the Champions League mix!
I’ve a feeling this new lease of life might just push them towards three more Group E points on Tuesday night. After narrowly losing to Bayern and then drawing with Man City, their home performances have been steadily improving in this competition. Couple that with the undoubted boost they will have received in winning in Manchester and Roma have a very tough team to beat.
The aura of Serie A has taken a few vicious knocks in recent weeks. Juventus have dropped six points already in their Champions League group and are in a battle to qualify, while Roma were utterly destroyed 7-1 at home by Bayern five weeks ago. I’m not willing to bracket these teams in the top tier of European sides.
Listen, don’t all laugh at once here, but there is just a suspicion that this Group Of Death might not be that amazing. Bayern out on their own, with the other three sides fighting for the second qualifying spot. Yeah that sounds about right.
So with 2/1 (Bet365) available on CSKA at home in sub-zero temperatures I’ll back them to win. Yes, Roma ripped them apart back in September, but within this group, the sides have gone in opposite directions since.
APOEL Nicosia v Barcelona | Tuesday 19:45 | Sky Sports Interactive
I’m constantly trying to find ways of getting on side with APOEL Nicosia as they’re always massively underrated by the bookmakers. They’ll exit the Champions League in two weeks time but I’ve no doubt they’ll leave with their heads held high.
The Cypriots are as big as 14/1 with BetVictor to win at home to Barcelona on Tuesday night, and while I won’t be backing that, it is too big. 2012 quarter-finalists APOEL kicked off their campaign with a stoic, sturdy, narrow 1-0 loss in the Nou Camp in September. Then followed a home draw with Ajax before two close 1-0 losses to PSG.
Nicosia have conceded just four goals. That’s the same number as Barcelona, and three less than Arsenal. There’s no reason why they can’t keep it tight again here.
Barcelona have been somewhat flat in this group so far. As mentioned earlier, they only beat APOEL 1-0 in the Nou Camp and have lost to PSG in Paris. Luis Enrique’s side have conceded four goals meaning that nine sides in the group stages have a better defensive record than them after four games.
I’m not expecting them to concede many on Tuesday, in fact they’ll probably keep a clean sheet. I also expect APOEL’s defence to revert to type and produce another resolute display. Six of APOEL’s eight Champions League matches this season have gone Under 2.5 Goals and I expect that trend to continue. The 13/8 with Skybet on such an outcome really tempts me.