MARK O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) takes a look at Shakhtar Donetsk’s prospects against Bayern Munich on Tuesday night.
Shakhtar Donetsk v Bayern Munich | Tuesday 19.45 | Sky Sports 5
When looking at this fixture, three potential markets and bets sprung to mind. Bayern on the handicap, Bayern to win ‘to nil’ and/or Arjen Robben to score. All three came on the agenda after seeing, unsurprisingly, the Bavarian visitors chalked up at just 2/5 to win.
Pep Guardiola’s men made a slow start to 2015. Hammered 4-1 in Wolfsburg before failing to overcome Schalke on home soil. Even against lowly Stuttgart the German champions struggled and on Saturday they toiled for 20 minutes before making the breakthrough against Hamburg. The Champions League favourites took the lead from the penalty spot before totally dismembering Hamburg with their biggest win since 1984.
With an eight-point advantage at the top of the Bundesliga and tiny Paderborn lying in wait at the weekend, Pep’s team can put their onus on Tuesday night’s tussle. It’s an ominous thought for Shakhtar. Already facing a mountainous task in stopping the five-times European champions, the Ukrainians haven’t played a competitive game since drawing with Porto in early December due to their winter break.
Will they be ring rusty? Probably. Bayern proved it’s certainly a potential problem against Wolfsburg and Shakhtar showed in the previous two seasons of continental action, they tend to suffer. The Donetsk club were knocked out of the Europa League at the equivalent stage last season and lost to Dortmund over two legs at this stage of the Champions League a year earlier.
What’s more, Shakhtar are still playing their home games in Lviv due to the ongoing Ukrainian crisis, which is a full 750 miles from Donetsk. Results in western Ukraine haven’t been great (one win in three in the group stage, two wins in their last four in the Ukrainian Premier League) and so the black marks are beginning to stack up.
The hosts have been beaten in three of their last four Champions League knockout games and their only two group-stage wins in 2014/15 came against minnows BATE Borisov. In fact, 12 of the 15 goals they scored to qualify from their group came against BATE. Oh and midfielder anchor Taras Stepanenko misses out through suspension and winger Bernard is out injured.
Yeah, it’s all stacking up against Shakhtar and so you can probably see why those three bets appeal. So lets narrow them down a little further…
Bayern have dominated the majority of their matches this season and won by a margin of two goals or more in 16/30 of their games in all competitions. However, only at Roma did they manage this feat on their travels in the Champions League group-stage this season. Bayern can be backed with a -1 handicap at 11/10 with Bet365.
Of those aforementioned 30 matches, 17 ended in Bayern wins ‘to nil. FC Hollywood have kept clean sheets in eight of their 13 away games since September whilst Shakhtar failed to net against Bilbao twice in the group-stage as well as two of their previous three home fixtures. The win ‘to nil’ is 5/4 with BetVictor.
And finally, Arjen Robben has scored in six of his last seven appearances, netting eight goals in total. It’s 14 goals in 17 league appearances now and his performance at the weekend was simply sublime, leaving many supporterswondering why the Dutch flyer didn’t finish higher than fourth in the Ballon d’Or ceremony. You can back Robben to score in a Bayern win at 9/5.
All three bets make huge appeal, to me. I have to be selective and I’m going to bet on instinct, which is the handicap pick. The clincher? Since the start of last season, Bayern have W6-D1-L2 away in the Champions League but only kept three clean sheets in those nine matches; whereas, four of those outings ended in -1 handicap victories for the tournament favourites.
Shakhtar Donetsk v Bayern Munich – Bayern Munich -1 handicap (11/10 Bet365)
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Now that looks tasty. As always, any questions can be posted in the comments box below or contact us via Twitter at @WeLoveBettingUK.