MARK O’HAIRE’S (@MarkOHaire) made us a mint on the Champions League this season. Can he continue his hot streak on Tuesday?
PSV Eindhoven v CSKA Moscow | Tuesday 19.45 | BT Sport Extra
The final round of fixtures in a round robin four-team group is never easy for punters with so many permutations and/or non-events taking place. But PSV’s clash with CSKA on Tuesday looks the best of a tough bunch of games to get stuck into.
No Dutch side has reached the Last 16 of the Champions League since 2006/07 but Eindhoven have a fabulous chance to end that barrens streak this midweek. Phillip Cocu’s charges are guaranteed progression should they pick up maximum points at home to the Russians and look handy 17/20 (Bet365) shots to do so.
You have to go back to 2005/06 for the last time PSV managed three consecutive home victories in Europe’s premier club competition but the hosts have already seen off Wolfsburg and Manchester United at the Phillips Stadion. With nine victories from 10 in front of their home supporters this season, they can complete the Champions League hat-trick despite the absence of Jetro Willems, Luciano Narsingh and Santiago Arias.
The Dutch club have gone 35 Champions League ties without scoring more than two goals in a game but CSKA Moscow arrive in “crisis” according to their head coach Leonid Slutsky following a dramatic drop-off in form. The Horses have W0-D1-L5 in their past six (only scoring twice) and make the journey without attacking midfielder Roman Eremenko and doubts hanging over centre-back Vassili Berezutski and left-back Georgy Schennikov’s inclusion.
CSKA have W1-D0-L8 in their previous nine Champions League away days, failing to even score in their most recent three. And arguably more alarming is the fact goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev hasn’t kept a clean sheet in this competition since November 2006, a run of 36 matches!
Galatasaray v Astana | Tuesday 19.45 | BT Sport Extra
Galatasaray and Astana meet in Istanbul for a Europa League shootout with the winner progressing and the loser exiting European competition for 2015/16. Neither has any chance of progressing to the Last 16.
That should make Tuesday’s showdown an enjoyable contest with Betfred’s 7/5 on Galatasaray to win and Over 2.5 Goals at 7/5 look a more than fair offer, considering the circumstances.
Gala have W1-D3-L9 of their previous 13 games in the Champions League and boast just a solitary shutout in their most recent 11 home matches in this competition. The Turks have leaked at least twice in nine of their last 10 European outings and are far from trustworthy in the defensive stakes.
The hosts are six points off the pace in their domestic Super Lig table and that unacceptable form saw Hamza Hamzaoglu axed and Mustafa Denizli brought in as a replacement. However, the new boss won’t be in charge this midweek so don’t expect the backline to be improved just yet.
But Galatasaray have thrived in Istanbul and Friday’s 3-0 win over Bursaspor their fifth victory in their last six games at the Turk Telekom Arena. They’ve scored three or more goals in four of their last five at home in all competitions whilst 10 of their most recent 13 have featured at least three goals with 6/13 also breaking the Over 3.5 Goals barrier.
The return of Selcuk Inan and Buruk Yilmaz from suspension aids the Turks as they look to better the 2-2 draw they achieved in Kazakhstan earlier this season. Three of those four goals were own goals in a very entertaining match-up so I’m happy to bypass Astana’s lack of goals in 4-0 (Atletico) and 2-0 (Benfica) road defeats in their two previous away games and focus on Gala’s horrid defensive record.
The visitors arrived in Istanbul 10 days ago to prepare and although they’re only one of three teams in the competition without a victory to their name, Stanimir Stoilov’s side mean business. The Blue and Yellows have a fully fit squad to pick from and can contribute to a high-scoring contest with Galatasaray the most likely winners.
Benfica v Atletico Madrid | Tuesday 19.45 | BT Sport Extra
I’ve been banging the Atletico Madrid drum since July so it’s only right I continue to invest my faith and cash in Diego Simeone’s immovable troops.
The Spaniards have won six on the spin now, leaking just once, and make the short journey to Lisbon knowing they must win if they wish to top the group.
Despite losing 2-1 to Benfica at their fortress Vicente Calderon home in the reverse, the Mattress Makers dominated that contest with the Portuguese club’s victory far from deserved. I expect Atleti to hand out a bit of revenge treatment on Tuesday night and at 13/10 with BetBright, look a decent price to do so.
Atletico have recorded clean sheets in nine of their last 10 Champions League group-games, as well as 11 of their last 14 continental ties, and although they’ve only W1-D2-L2 in their last five away in this competition, make the journey with a very strong squad.
Only Bayern Munich have managed more shots-on-target in this season’s competition and Simeone’s side are also top of the corners won table. With Antoine Griezmann in red-hot form leading the line and the best defence in Europe, I still believe the Mattress Makers are serious contenders for both the La Liga and Champions League titles.
Benfica have endured a poor start to their Liga Sagres campaign under new boss Rui Vitoria and trail their old head coach and bitter Lisbon rivals Sporting by eight points. Nicolas Gaitain, scorer and assist-maker in the Madrid match-up, returns from suspension but centre-half Luisao is still out injured.
The Eagles just need to avoid defeat to top the group and they do hold a sound record when hosting European opposition – Benfica have W7-D2-L1 in their last 10 Champions League duels at the Stadium of Light and lost just three games in 26 continental outings in Lisbon since 2011/12.
Having seen the hosts play on numerous occasions this term, I remain unconvinced and so I’m happy to oppose them here. But I’m going to boost the Atletico win price by adding Under 2.5 Goals to the equation and get a juicy 16/5 from Unibet.
Of those aforementioned 26 European home game for Benfica, 16 delivered fewer than three goals and that’s also been the case in eight of Atleti’s last 10 in the Champions League as well as nine of their last 11 on their continental travels.
Sevilla v Juventus | Tuesday 19.45 | BT Sport Extra
Sevilla have claimed Europa League honours in each of the last two seasons but the Spaniards must beat Juventus on Tuesday night and hope Gladbach are beaten by Manchester City to compete for a hat-trick of titles in 2016.
Unai Emery’s charges have endured a mixed campaign but do come into this midweek unbeaten in three having lost six of eight matches previously.
Los Rojiblancos do their best work at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan and Barcelona, Real Madrid and Valencia have already been downed in Andalusia this term. Indeed, Sevilla have W10-D0-L1 in their last 11 European fixtures, although nine of those came in the Europa.
The home side have lost four Champions League games on the spin, leaking at least twice in each, and are likely to struggle to keep a clean sheet with injuries ruling out the likes of Beto, Gael Kakuta, Daniel Carrico, Marco Andreolli, Nico Pareja and Benoit Tremoulinas.
But with only one blank fired in their last nine Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan outings, I’m happy to count on Emery’s men notching in a Both Teams To Score game at 8/9 with 888 Sport.
Juventus only need a point to secure top spot and Max Allegri’s men have won five consecutive matches (the most recent four ‘to nil’), losing just once in 13 now. The Old Lady have W9-D5-L1 in their last 15 Champions League tussles but have conceded goals in 12 of their last 17 on the road in Europe.
PSV Eindhoven v CSKA Moscow – PSV Eindhoven to win (17/20 Bet365)
Galatasaray v Astana – Galatasaray to win and Over 2.5 Goals (7/5 Betfred)
Benfica v Atletico Madrid – Atletico Madrid to win and Under 2.5 Goals (16/5 Unibet)
Sevilla v Juventus – Both Teams To Score (8/9 888 Sport)
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