THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE continues on Tuesday night. Here Ben Levene (@BenLevene96) picks out his favourite fancy from the match-up between Spartak Moscow and Liverpool.
Spartak Moscow v Liverpool | Tuesday 26th September 2017, 19:45 | BT Sport
Spartak Moscow achieved a valiant point away at Maribor in their Champions League group opener. The went off as odds-on favourites on that occasion, which is surprising when you consider they won none of five away matches prior to that trip.
Spartak haven’t had it all their way this season, they lie mid-table in Russia, having won just three of 11 league games. In Moscow, the Russian side have fared much better, winning ‘to nil’ in three of their five home league games.
Their only home loss this campaign came at the hands of rivals of Lokomotiv but even on that occasion Spartak were 2-0 up before being reduced to 10 men.
Spartak’s key weapons
Luiz Adriano will lead the line for Massimo Carrera’s side after a short stint in Milan. Adriano may be familiar to many after he scored five goals in a Champions League group game against Bate Borisov in 2014.
Dutch winger Quincy Promes will provide a threat with his pace, while English fans may recognise Mario Pasalic, who’s on-loan from Chelsea.
Although we have to acknowledge the potential gulf in class, as is proverbially the case, trips to Russia are rarely romps to victory. With Liverpool’s defensive frailties, it will be no surprise to see Spartak cause problems given they’ve scored in each of their last 15 home matches and 11 of their last 13 more generally.
Liverpool haven’t been firing of late and as was the case last season, they’ve looked vulnerable at the back. Saturday’s win over Leicester ended a run of five games without a victory.
But much of that can be put down to the absence of Sadio Mane after his dismissal against Man City. Jurgen Klopp’s side have been heavily reliant on the goals of Mane since the start of last season.
He was the club’s top goalscorer last campaign despite going to the African Cup of Nations and even in a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace earlier this season, it was Mane who bagged the winner.
Mane is best priced at 17/11 with Unibet to score anytime this Tuesday. The wingers pace and direct running in behind offers Klopp a different dimension and is a key facet of Liverpool’s play.
Salah can score
One man who’s gone somewhat to reducing the reliance on Mane is Mo Salah. Salah already has six goals for Liverpool this campaign and it’s worth noting that the Egyptian has had the most shots on-target in the Premier League this season.
With Phillipe Coutinho likely to create from a deeper role and Roberto Firmino’s clever movement to vacate space in behind, the in-form Salah is a tempting 7/4 with Unibet to get on the scoresheet and it could be worth dutching with his wide-counterpart, Mane.
Both players are 9/4 to score in a Liverpool victory but at the prices it’s worth reducing the risk by sticking to the anytime market.
A high-scoring first-half
Liverpool have tended to struggle against teams who defend deep and narrow with two-banks of four. They’ve generally fared well when attacking fast on the counter, so it will be interesting to see how Spartak take to stopping the Anfield side.
Two of Liverpool’s three Champions League games this season have seen two or more goals in the first-half and on the occasion it failed to land, Simon Mignolet saved a penalty to deny it.
At 7/4 with Bet Victor, Over 1.5 in the first half goals market has a touch of value about it.