MARK O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) has scanned Tuesday’s Champions League card to pick out the best value bets not involving English sides.
Bayer Leverkusen v Roma | Tuesday 19.45 | BT Sport Extra
I’m making my debut at the BayArena on Tuesday night and I have to say, I can’t wait for this game. The two teams will have had their eyes set on second place in Group E when the draw was made with Barcelona expected to stroll to top spot. But results from the first two matchdays have thrown the pool wide open.
Firstly, Roma held Barca in the Italian capital but the capital club were then sunk 3-2 in BATE Borisov, undoing all their fine work from the first fixture. Leverkusen saw off the Belarusians 4-1 on home soil before a gutsy effort in the Nou Camp eventually ended in a 2-1 defeat. It means the back-to-back matches between the duo are now pivotal to progression hopes.
I’m expecting an open, attractive and goal-heavy game between two clubs that enjoy playing on the front foot. Leverkusen were well below-par in a goalless draw at Hamburg on Saturday but there’s a valid school of thought suggesting head coach Roger Schmidt was holding a bit back for this encounter.
Bayer have won nine of their last 11 group-stage matches at the BayArena and you’d expect Lars Bender, Kevin Kampl, Tin Jedvaj and Omer Toprak to overcome niggles to take their place in the XI. With Javier Hernandez and Karim Bellarabi in offensive positions, the Germans don’t lack a threat in attack whilst set-piece genius Hakan Calhanoglu will also return to the team.
Roma were defensively inept at BATE but have bounced back by securing successive victories over Palermo and Empoli in Serie A. Rudi Garcia will be without Francesco Totti, Kevin Strootman, Seydou Keita and Elio Capradossi but Edin Dzeko should be fit to start and with Mo Salah also available, the Giallorossi certainly aren’t short of attacking power.
The Wolves have scored in each of their last 21 matches but have kept just one clean sheet in 10 now and that came against weak Serie A newcomers Frosinone. Roma are winless in five Champions League games and are far from trustworthy on the road so I’ll suggest a play on Both Teams To Score at 13/17 (888) – that’s 1.76 in decimals on a bet that’s won in all four previous Group E games involving these two. Decent.
BATE Borisov v Barcelona | Tuesday 19.45 | BT Sport Extra
I’m staying in Group E and chasing two more goals-based bets as Barcelona travel to Belarus looking to extend their excellent Champions League winning run to 12 in 14 on Tuesday night.
Barca were far from their best and a tad fortunate to escape with three points when welcoming Leverkusen to the Nou Camp in matchday two and Luis Enrique’s troops have yet to really convince in 2015/16. Their cause has obviously not been helped by Lionel Messi or Andres Iniesta‘s injuries but even more alarming for the Catalans has been their shoddy defensive displays.
On Saturday, little Rayo opened the scoring and played their part in an entertaining 5-2 Barcelona win. And although the Bluagrana bagged the win to send them back to the top of La Liga, the current European champions will need to step up a gear or two if they’re to successfully defend their crown.
It’s eight games without a clean sheet for the visitors now with only two shutouts in 13 matches this term. Their tally of 11 goals against in just eight La Liga outings is their worst record since 2005/06 and means they’ve already leaked over 50% of last season’s total goals conceded in the league (21).
BATE are the dominant club in Belarus and comfortably sealed a tenth successive domestic title on Friday. But the Yellow-Blues aren’t near the level required to successfully compete on the continental stage.
The hosts have never kept a clean sheet when hosting Champions League group-stage action and have been beaten in 10 of their last 12 at the group-stage with each loss arriving by a margin of two goals or more – seven losses were by three goals or more.
Alyaksandr Yermakovich’s men were outclassed in Leverkusen 4-1 and slightly fortunate to steam into a 3-0 lead against an out-of-sorts Roma last time out. I’d be stunned if they could stop Barcelona on Tuesday, even without Messi, but they can contribute to an enjoyable fixture by netting.
Both Teams To Score has banked in 10/13 Barcelona games this season with Over 2.5 Goals doing the business in 9/13. Include the back end of last season and those figures read 14/18 BTTS winners and 13/18 successful Over 2.5 Goals selections.
I’ll back Barca to win and Both Teams To Score at 2/1 (Bwin) as well as covering a potential 3-0 away victory or better with Barca to win and Over 2.5 Goals at 11/13 (Unibet).