THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE returns on Tuesday night. James O’Rourke (@JamesOR1) shares his betting thoughts on the best bets available from matchday two.
Juventus v Young Boys | Tuesday 2nd October 2018, 17:55 | BT Sport
Following his dismissal in the opening group game in Valencia, Juventus are minus Cristiano Ronaldo for Tuesday’s early evening counter in Turin.
It would be fair to say he is still finding his feet plying his trade for the the Old Lady these days, but he shouldn’t be missed when current Swiss champions Young Boys head to town.
Confidence will be high within the camp after a commanding 3-1 home triumph over Napoli at the weekend. That means Juventus have netted at least twice in all of their eight matches in all competitions to date. Considering they have also faced the likes of Lazio too, that is some achievement for Massimiliano Allegri’s charges.
For all the troubles Manchester United seem to be experiencing right now, they still managed to comfortably brush aside Young Boys on their artificial surface on matchday one.
They have overtaken Basel as the number one side in the Swiss Super League these days, dismantling their rivals 7-1 recently. Clearly the Champions League represents a huge step up in class for Young Boys.
The Champions League is very much the priority for Juventus this season; highlighted by the acquisition of Ronaldo. Therefore, they won’t be taking any game easily in the group stage.
They may rotate to a degree, but the likes of Federico Bernardeschi, Juan Cuadrado, Rodrigo Bentancur and Daniele Rugani highlight their strength in depth. Unsurprisingly, the Italians are huge favourites to win, and their odds reflect that.
A good way to get more value out of backing Juventus in a game like this is to focus on the halves market. In 57% of their matches, they have netted in both halves. Given they are scoring at least two per-game so far, and now facing weaker opposition, they may see this as a chance to boost their goal difference.
4/5 with William Hill for Juventus to To Score In Both Halves is a nice little play.
AEK Athens v Benfica | Tuesday 2nd October 2018, 20:00 | BT Sport
Both sides lost on matchday one, which highlights the importance of getting that first victory under their belts when AEK Athens and Benfica collide in Greece.
Home form will be key to any chance AEK have of possibly emerging out of this group; with three teams realistically battling it out for second place to Bayern Munich. AEK were soundly beaten by Ajax, whilst Benfica found Bayern too hot to handle at the Stadium of Light, but both know Tuesday is a winnable opportunity.
It is fair to say that AEK have made Spyros Louis at fortress over time, that coming over the majority of their rather weak opposition in the Greek Super League. In qualifications for the Champions League over the summer, they edged past Celtic and could only draw to Hungarian outfit MOL Vidi.
Benfica endured a disruptive night in Chaves on Thursday, which saw kick-off delayed by an hour after torrential rain. They conceded late to draw 2-2, which was two dropped points, but they’re only a point behind rivals Porto six games in.
The 29th August 2018 is perhaps a date not at the forefront of many minds, but this was the day Benfica took on another Greek side in the form of PAOK; a team very much in the same category as AEK. Benfica cantered to a 4-1 triumph in qualification, before drawing at home to progress.
It is hard to ignore this and it reflects the clear gulf in class between the two leagues. Benfica are actually the favourites for this game, which is understandable, but clearly there are some risks to backing them outright. Therefore, the goals market is one which may be of greater interest.
AEK are used to playing fairly straightforward matches, so facing off in the Champions League can be an eye-opener, as they found on matchday one in Ajax.
Benfica have netted at least twice in seven of their 12 matches in all competitions so far. Only four of those have contained clean sheets, which is why we’re not entirely convinced by them for win purposes.
Going forward they’re always a threat, which is why Benfica To Score 2+ Goals, which pays out a healthy 7/5 with Coral, is an attractive route into this match.
Roma v Viktoria Plzen | Tuesday 2nd October 2018, 20:00 | BT Sport
By all accounts, Roma have had a poor start to the season. However, back-to-back home victories, including against rivals Lazio at the weekend, suggests that I Giallorossi are starting to find some momentum under Eusebio Di Francesco.
Losing 3-0 at Real Madrid on matchday one has further highlighted the importance of getting their first victory when Plzen come to town on Tuesday. Also, they’ll be keen to get back among the goals and remove that -3 goal difference at the very least.
Plzen romped to the Czech First League last season, but it is no longer a one team league this time around. Slavia Prague, Sparta Prague, Ostrava and Zlin join Plzen in the top five, which is separated by only four points 10 games into the campaign.
Roma are 10 points off league leaders Juventus already, but defeating Lazio could transform their season. With respect to Plzen, Roma will be targeted six points from their respective meetings in the group stage. Both teams were paired together in the 2016/17 group stage too, with Roma smashing Plzen 4-1 in the home match.
Roma clearly prefer playing their football at the Stadio Olimpico. They’ve netted four versus Frosinone, three against both Lazio and Atalanta, whilst netting two more against Chievo. Goals will be on their minds for this specific encounter.
Let’s not forget that Roma made it all the way to the semi-finals last season, where old boy Mo Salah came back to haunt them. Roma made their own turf a fortress in this competition last season, and besides a 0-0 draw with Atletico Madrid, they won all their home matches, defeating Chelsea and Barcelona 3-0, and netting four past Liverpool in the semi-final second leg.
With that in mind, plus their need for points after losing to Real Madrid, Roma -1 at 10/11 with Coral offers some value.
Juventus v Young Boys – Juventus to score in both halves (4/5 William Hill)
AEK Athens v Benfica – Benfica to score 2+ goals (7/5 Coral)
Roma v Viktoria Plzen – Roma -1 handicap (10/11 Coral)