MARK O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) shares his best bets ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League ties.
Benfica v Galatasaray | Tuesday 19.45 | BT Sport Extra
Benfica saw their 55-match unbeaten home league run ended in emphatic fashion by arch-rivals Sporting in their last Estadio da Luz outing, increasing the pressure on new boss Rui Vitoria.
With Jorge Jesus jumping ship to Sporting in the summer, Rui Vitoria was hoping to continue the Eagles’ dominance of Portuguese football but that embarrassing loss coupled with defeats in Porto and in the reverse clash with Galatasaray has raised question marks.
Still, despite that Istanbul defeat the Reds have started their Champions League campaign encouragingly. Benfica have W2-D0-L1 with Nicolas Gaitan grabbing goals in each clash with the Lisbon club topping Group C, above Atletico Madrid.
Both teams warmed up for this meeting with 4-0 wins at the weekend but rather than attempt to pick a winner, it might be best to enter the Over 2.5 Goals market with 888 offering odds of 3/4.
Benfica’s last six matches have broken the Over 2.5 Goals barrier and Galatasaray have followed suit in five of their last seven – all seven have featured at least two goals. The visitors have failed to keep a clean sheet in 17 away games in Europe, nine of which saw Over 2.5 Goals bank.
The Turks are unbeaten in eight, have scored in 13 of their last 14 but their rotten road record in this competition makes them unfancied guests. Gala have lost seven of their previous nine Champions League road trips and conceded at twice in nine of their last 10.
With Benfica shot enough and slightly unreliable despite their W13-D3-L1 record at home in Europe, Over 2.5 Goals appeals more at 3/4.
PSV Eindhoven v Wolfsburg | Tuesday 19.45 | BT Sport Extra
Another match that should feature prominently in the goals markets is PSV’s contest with Wolfsburg. With only three points separating all four teams in the pool, three points could go along way to securing a place in the knockout stages.
Peculiarly, five of the six fixtures in Group B have seen the home side win and that’s been the case in all matches involving these two clubs. And PSV do look a little too big on Tuesday night considering their outstanding return at the Phillips Stadium across the past 18 months.
PSV have W11-D1-L0 in their last 12 in Eindhoven and have W27-D2-L3 going back further. They may sit bottom of the pile but the Peasants are in fine fettle domestically, scoring 15 goals en route to winning their most recent three.
The Dutch side to fall to their fifth loss in six European matches in Wolfsburg, putting in a rather meek display but they’re worth supporting at 7/8 (BetVictor) with a +0.25 Asian Handicap start, as Wolfsburg don’t tend to travel well.
Aside from a DFB Pokal win over third tier opposition, the Germans have won just once away from home, and that was at struggling Darmstadt. Dieter Hecking rested a number of first-team players for the weekend win over Leverkusen but losses in three of their last four journeys abroad in this competition is of concern.
Taking the +0.25 Asian Handicap means we’ll pocket a full pay-out should PSV pinch all three points. But if that match ends in a draw, we’ll see half our stake returned with the second half deemed a winner. For more information on how Asian Handicap betting works, check out our handy guide.
I’m also going to have a play on Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score at 10/11 with Bet365. Wolfsburg have only failed to net twice in their 17 games in all competitions this term and six of their seven European away matches since the start of last season have seen at least three goals.
Shakhtar Donetsk v Malmo | Tuesday 19.45 | BT Sport Extra
Malmo concluded their league campaign at the weekend meaning the Champions League is now their sole focus on success. The Swedes are punching above their weight in third heading into Tuesday night’s trip to the Ukraine and head coach Age Hareide will know a point could prove pivotal to their Europa League qualification aspirations.
Malmo upset the odds to beat Shakhtar in the reverse fixture but they’ll need to pull out another above average display to leave Lviv with something. Traditionally poor travellers, the Blues have been beaten by at least two goals in each of their most recent seven away Champions League group-games.
Shakhtar are pointless and scoreless from their first three group-games this season but the Miners have clicked into gear during their domestic season. Mircea Lucescu’s men have delivered 11 wins on the spin and 14 goals in their last three outings, including a stunning 3-0 success at bitter rivals Dynamo Kiev.
The hosts have ran out winners in seven of their 10 ‘home’ fixtures in Lviv this term with each victory recorded alongside a clean sheet and by at least a two-goal margin. But the main man has been attacking midfielder Alex Teixeira with 18 goals in just 12 league appearances.
Teixeira scored 17 goals in the whole of 2014/15 so is clearly in deadly form and with Shakhtar pinning their hopes on the Brazilian, it may pay to back Teixeira to score in a Shakhtar win at 7/5 quotes with Paddy Power.
Real Madrid v PSG | Tuesday 19.45 | BT Sport Extra
Two of Europe’s most cash-rich clubs played out a dour 0-0 draw in Paris a fortnight ago and I wouldn’t be surprised if the return fixture failed to spark in the goal markets again. Ticking ‘No’ in the Both Teams To Score column is offered at 11/10 with Coral and I’ll be having a small play.
Both Real and PSG are unbeaten this season and it’s the hosts who’ll have been happier with the goalless draw in the Parc des Princes having fielded close to a second string side. Rafa Benitez’s continues to solidify Los Blancos with the team now looking more balanced between defence and attack.
James Rodriguez is fit to return but his lack of match fitness makes a start unlikely on Tuesday and with Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale both ruled out, Madrid will be without three of their world class operators in the front four. At the back, Keylar Navas will return between the sticks and the Costa Rican glovesman is yet to concede at the Bernebeau this season.
Real have W21-D3-L2 at home in Champions League ties and won all bar three of their last 25 home group-games in this competition. But 4/5 quotes are fairly unappealing considering the personnel missing from this midweek match.
PSG bossed possession in Paris but failed to find a breakthrough but at least they extended their unbeaten streak to 23. However, Les Rouge-et-Bleu’s road record in the Champions League is rather unappealing having W4-D2-L4 in their last 10 with Barcelona (x2), Chelsea (x2) and Benfica accumulatively scoring 11 goals in those fixtures – four of which ended in defeat for Laurent Blanc’s guests.
The Parisians did rest a batch of players for Friday night’s 1-0 win at Rennes that sent PSG 10 points clear at the top of Ligue 1. Former Real Madrid star Angel Di Maria bagged the winner but that was just one of 10/15 PSG games this season that failed to land for Both Teams To Score backers, making the odds on a repeat look enticing at 11/10 (Coral).
Benfica v Galatasaray – Over 2.5 Goals (3/4 888)
PSV Eindhoven v Wolfsburg – PSV Eindhoven +0.25 Asian Handicap (7/8 BetVictor)
PSV Eindhoven v Wolfsburg – Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score (11/10 Bet365)
Shakhtar Donetsk v Malmo – Alex Teixeira to score and Shakhtar Donetsk to win (7/5 Paddy Power)
Real Madrid v PSG – Both Teams To Score ‘No’ (11/10 Coral)
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