MARK O’HAIRE (@MarkOHaire) has taken a look at the Champions League games that don’t involve British teams and shares his best bets.
Besiktas v Napoli | Tuesday 17:45 | BT Sport Extra
Napoli began the season in superb form – unbeaten in their opening eight games and looking like a rock-solid bet to breeze into the Last 16 of the Champions League having been handed a manageable group.
However, Maurizio Sarri’s men hit the buffers in October with four defeats in six and summer signing Arkadiusz Milik’s injury hitting the Partenopei hard. With Manolo Gabbiadini struggling in the centre-forward position, Dries Mertens has adopted a false-nine role and impressed.
Nevertheless, the Italians head to Istanbul looking to serve up a cold dish of revenge on Besiktas. Comical defending, a dreadful backpass and a missed penalty all played their part in a potentially damaging 3-2 defeat when the two sides locked horns a fortnight ago.
Napoli dominated the shot count 16-7, the corner count 17-1 and possession (63%) but Besiktas struck with their three shots on-target to wrestle back into qualification contention.
The visitors head to Turkey with Nikola Maksimovic and Vlad Chiriches battling it out to play alongside Kalidou Koulibaly with Raul Albiol crocked and Sarri will be desperately hoping for a more assured performance from his backline.
The Partenopei have leaked in each of their last seven with all three of their Champions League ties featuring Both Teams To Score winners. With Besiktas also banking in the BTTS column across their first three matchdays, it makes sense to get back involved at 10/13 (10BET) quotes on Tuesday.
Besiktas have seen Veli Kavlak, Andreson Talisca and Caner Erkin all ruled out, while Necip Uysal is a doubt. Talisca’s absence– scorer of five goals across league and Champions League outings is a blow but Senol Gunes should have both Atiba Hutchinson and Gokhan Inler back in the centre of midfield.
Aside from an opening day Super Cup loss to Galatasaray on penalties, the Turks team have yet to taste defeat this season (W7-D6-L0), not draw a blank in front of goal. Vincent Aboubakar showed his pedigree in Napoli to lead the line and he’ll hope for more change out of the visitors’ ropey defence.
The Black Eagles have won four of their last five outings, shutting out three opponents whilst also claiming top honours in 13 of their last 14 in Istanbul. But key injuries put me off finding an angle on the hosts; instead, BTTS should give us a good run for our money.
Benfica v Dynamo Kiev | Tuesday 19:45 | BT Sport Extra
Benfica secured a reasonably cushy 2-0 success when these two teams met in Ukraine a fortnight ago and I see no reason why Rui Vitoria’s troops can’t repeat the feat in Lisbon on Tuesday night.
Paddy Power are offering even-money on the hosts to overcome a -1 Asian Handicap hurdle – should Benfica only win by a solitary goal, we’ll see our stake returned. But should the Eagles win by two or more goals, we’ll be paid out.
The Portuguese outfit made a false start to their group campaign, being held by Besiktas at home before finding themselves four goals behind within an hour of visiting Napoli (2-4). Yet that loss remains Benfica’s only defeat of the season.
The Eagles are currently flying high domestically, five points clear at the top of the Primeira Liga and arrive at this contest having churned out three successive triumphs ‘to nil’. And it’s worth reminding ourselves that last season only Atletico Madrid and Bayern Munich stopped Benfica winning at home in the Champions League.
They’ve delivered chalked up a Portuguese record 16th consecutive away Liga win last week, suffered one loss in 23 and under Rui Vitoria they’ve won 51 of 65 outings. Although Jonas is unavailable and Rafa Silva and Luisao are doubts, I still really like the Eagles with Dynamo Kiev ravaged by injuries.
Andriy Yarmolenko, Danilo Silva, Denys Garmash, Valeriy Fedorchuk and Olexandr Gladiky have all stayed at home and Sergiy Rebrov’s side will be eliminated should they lose in Lisbon.
The guests are third in the Ukranian Premier League and trail leaders Shakhtar Donetsk by eight points. Dynamo have bagged just four wins in 13, lost both of their home Champions League ties and are without a clean sheet in six.
Kiev have really struggled defensively since losing centre-back Aleksandar Dragovic in the summer and although they cut loose with a 4-1 win against Karpaty Lviv on Saturday – 20-year-olds Artem Besedin and Pavlo Orikhovskiy both scored their first Dynamo goals – the back-to-back title winners are a long way off the pace they set last season.
This should be a routine home win.
Basel v PSG | Tuesday 19:45 | BT Sport Extra
Results can quite often be deceiving and on first glance, PSG’s 3-0 triumph over Basel in Paris two weeks ago appears dominant. However, the Swiss visitors hit the woodwork on three occasions, making the final score a little harsh.
Back in Basel, I fancy Urs Fischer’s men to give the French outfit a really stern examination. The RotBlau have only one point to their name thus far but at St Jakob-Park they’ve lost just three of 20 home games in UEFA competition since the start of 2013/14 and remain unbeaten domestically.
Matias Delgado grabbed a sixth and seventh goal of the season in Saturday’s 2-0 success at Grasshoppers and the hosts – who’ve won seven consecutive Swiss Super League titles – will be buoyed by the fact only Real Madrid have come away from this stadium with all three points in the last seven Champions League matches.
That encounter ended 1-0 to the Spanish giants and with Basel leaking only six goals in their previous 10 outings on home soil in this competition, I’m more than happy to invest faith in the hosts keeping this contest competitive.
888 are offering 7/8 quotes on Basel with a +1 start on the Asian Handicap line meaning, should the Swiss side lose by one-goal, we’ll see our stake returned. A two-goal defeat or more sees us lose our bet but if the home team win or draw, we’ll be in the money.
PSG trail Ligue 1 table-toppers by six points and Unai Emery remains under intense pressure in the French capital. Ludogorets caused Les Parisians problems in Bulgaria so there’s no reason why Basel can’t.
It might also be worth having a nibble on the 4/5 from Stan James for Both Teams To Score, or alternatively the 1-1 correct score seeing as Under 2.5 Goals has copped in seven of Basel’s past eight Champions League dates.
Visiting striker Edinson Cavani is often criticised for his profligate finishing but the Uruguayan has 18 goals to his name already for club and country this season, including four in the Champions League.
PSG are averaging well over eight attempts from inside the box in this competition thus far and should create enough to get on the scoresheet at the very least.
Besiktas v Napoli – Both Teams To Score (10/13 10BET)
Benfica v Dynamo Kiev – Benfica -1 Asian Handicap (1/1 Paddy Power)
Basel v PSG – Basel +1 Asian Handicap (7/8 888)
Basel v PSG – Both Teams To Score (4/5 Stan James)
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