THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE returns on Tuesday evening. Bang in-form James O'Rourke (@JamesOR1) shares his best bets in games not involving Premier League teams.
Young Boys v Valencia | Tuesday 23rd October 2018, 17:55 | BT Sport
This game will take us to the halfway stage in Group H, but already it is looking like a must-win encounter for both Young Boys and Valencia.
The reigning Swiss champions have suffered back-to-back defeats in their opening two group games, which comes as no surprise versus Manchester United and Juventus. Welcoming the Spaniards to their hostile stadium, along with an artificial surface, may reduce the possible gulf in class between the two outfits.
Valencia on the other hand, just like Young Boys, have yet to score a goal in the Champions League so far.
Whilst neither team have scored, both need that to change if they are to stand a chance of being victorious here. Young Boys have no such issue finding the back of the net in the Swiss Super League, where they are averaging 3.36 goals per-game.
It has been an extremely frustrating start to the La Liga campaign for Valencia. Whilst they have only suffered one defeat in nine, they’ve won only once too; drawing an incredibly seven times. Clearly they are hard to beat, and Marcelino is still waiting for the likes of Kevin Gameiro, Rodrigo, Michy Batshuayi and Goncalo Guedes to really hit top gear.
Taking on Young Boys, who aren’t known for their strong defensive record, will give them opportunities to find the back of the net.
Quite astonishing is that only four of Young Boys’ matches this season has failed to beat the 2.5 goal line. This applies to both league and Champions League games (including qualification). Two of those came in their first two matches of the season as well, which came back in July.
Scoring goals at their Stade de Suisse venue in Bern is no such issue for them as well. Jose Mourinho ensured Man Utd came away with a clean sheet back in September, but we would have to go all the way back to September 2017 for the last time they failed to net in front of their supporters.
Given this is a game Young Boys have to win, they’ll have to take some risks, throw some bodies forward and look to give Valencia something to think about.
For all the goals Young Boys have been witnessing in their domestic league, it is the exact opposite for Valencia. Only 11% of their games have beaten the 2.5 goal line, but it is worth noting that 56% of them have contained two goals, so the margins are quite fine to their being more goals, for or against.
Given the offensive quality at their disposal, Los Che will look to impose that upon a Young Boys defence that has conceded in half of their home matches domestically, who are obviously classed as weaker opposition to a side such as Valencia.
Therefore, the likely tactical element of this game suggests that it should be open. Neither side will be sitting back, given the importance of victory.
Young Boys are yet to make their mark in this competition, and playing at home is their most realistic chance to do so. Valencia gave Manchester United some problems at Old Trafford on matchday two, and they’ll fancy themselves to bag here.
Both Teams To Score is not an appealing price, so we’ll look to Over 2.5 Goals at 19/20 (Betfair).
AEK Athens v Bayern Munich | Tuesday 23rd October 2018, 17:55 | BT Sport
Eight games into the Bundesliga season, Bayern Munich sit fourth in the table, four points behind league leaders Borussia Dortmund. This has already led to some question marks being placed around the summer appointment of Niko Kovac at the Allianz Arena.
Members of the club hierarchy spoke out recently to express their anger at the media for suggesting this may be the case. A run of four matches without victory, including a draw to Ajax on matchday one in the Champions League, was ended at the weekend when defeating Wolfsburg 3-1 away.
Still, the Bavarians will fancy their chances of topping this group, and only three points will be tolerated from their midweek trip to Greece.
AEK sit second in the Greek Super League after eight games. However, they are finding the Champions League a bit too hot to handle after two matches. They were soundly beaten away in Ajax, before losing at home to Benfica 3-2, a match they would have certainly targeted maximum points from.
Realistically, the hosts need to be beating the five-time winners of this competition on Tuesday to stand a chance of progression into the knockout rounds. That is no easy task given the clear quality difference between the two.
Robert Lewandowski scored two of their three goals on Saturday in Wolfsburg, which were his first goals since netting in the away victory in Schalke just less than a month ago. With him firing on all cylinders again, AEK could be in for a testing night, and manager Marinos Ouzounidis will be wondering how to keep him quiet.
The Greek Super League is simply not comparable to the top stage of European football, and they won’t face the likes of Bayern in their fairly low quality division. They’ll take heart from a weekend away victory in Symrnis, but they’ve only won two of the six before that, so aren’t in blistering form.
Even including qualification games, AEK are yet to keep a clean sheet in the Champions League. Celtic scored three times versus them over two legs.
Bayern will still feel as though they have a point to prove, despite winning on Saturday. The jury is still out on them to a degree, and with the world watching in the Champions League, they may feel as though this is a time to really lay down a marker and prove that the squad are firmly behind Kovac. They’ve already won 2-0 away in Benfica, who deservedly beat AEK away.
Therefore, getting odds-against of 11/10 (BoyleSports) for Bayern winning ‘to nil' is something we cannot ignore. Bayern will enjoy at the very least 60% of the ball here, so AEK won’t get too many openings to cause a threat. Bayern scoring would drain the atmosphere in the stadium, which may begin hostile, but reality would set in if goals are shipped.
AEK have to win, so they’ll need to take some risks, which only opens the door for the likes of Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery, James Rodriguez et al. to cause some problems.
Young Boys v Valencia – Over 2.5 Goals (19/20 Betfair)
AEK Athens v Bayern Munich – Bayern Munich to win ‘to nil' (11/10 BoyleSports)