Champions League: Back Old Lady to answer critics


THE Champions League returns on Tuesday night and European football fanatic Jonny O'Sullivan (@libero_the) picks out his favourite fancies in matches not involving Premier League interest.

Lokomotiv Moscow v Atletico Madrid | Tuesday 1st October 2019, 20:00 | BT Sport

It is no secret that Atletico Madrid keeps clean sheets. They sent everyone to sleep with neighbours Real Madrid on Saturday night with a game which will not live long in the memory; just like their season so far.

However, Atleti still sit third in their domestic division. Having scored a massive seven goals so far in seven league games, the Spaniards will be forced to rely on their defence more than ever due to the departure of star forward Antoine Griezmann.

Joao Felix no doubt is a future superstar and has started the season brightly, but it was always a tall order to replace a player at the top of his game seamlessly.

More often than not, though, Atletico finds a way to win. It is what they have done for the best part of a decade now and it would be crazy to think this will change any time soon.

Lokomotiv Moscow showed against Bayer Leverkusen they are a decent outfit but they should not prove too much of a problem for arguably the best goalkeeper in the world, Jan Oblak.

Last season the likes of Porto and Schalke dismantled the Russian side away from home, so a team with infinitely more quality should find the tricky away trip no problem. It also helps that Porto's best player when they battered Loko 1-3 was Hector Herrera, who Atletico managed to snap up on a free transfer.

I would not advise lumping on Atletico to slaughter Lokomotiv, as I do not see them scoring more than two goals, but it would be highly recommended that they manage to do a professional job and show the world that there is life after Griezmann and Diego Godin.

Atletico Madrid can win ‘to nil’ at 31/20 (BetVictor).

Juventus v Bayer Leverkusen | Tuesday 1st October 2019, 20:00 | BT Sport

Juventus are not the side they once were at the back. Matthijs de Ligt is undoubtedly a young centre back with no ceiling, but it was never going to be the easiest transition going from the total footballing Ajax philosophy to a rigid Juventus side trying to discover a new way of playing – Sarriball.

The loss of Georgio Chiellini for the season does not help their defensive record either and this has shown so far this season with their lack of shut outs. Juventus have only kept three clean sheets all season. They conceded three goals against Napoli and two against Atletico whilst shipping the opening goal of the game against Brescia and Hellas Verona.

This is not very Juventus-like and they are facing a side with a lot of quality in their first home match of the competition. They will come against a wounded beast in Bayer Leverkusen in their second fixture of the Champions League.

Leverkusen are fresh off the back of a commanding 3-0 away win this weekend and will be determined to show that they are a side worthy of this competition after their dismal first display. Leon Bailey, Kevin Volland and wonderkid Kai Havertz, to name a few, will want to showcase their talents and will view a stumbling Juventus as a way of doing this.

However, Juventus are still Juventus. When you have Douglas Costa, Paulo Dybala, Gonzalo Higuain and Cristiano Ronaldo, you are expected to go far in any competition you enter.

Juventus have had their critics recently for selling their future to acquire for immediate success in this competition, and the best way to answer these criticisms is to actually go out and finally win the famous trophy. A win will be needed against Bayer Leverkusen to show that they have enough about them to lift the famous trophy.

Take Juventus to win and Both Teams To Score at 9/4 (Betfair).

Best Bets

Lokomotiv Moscow v Atletico Madrid – Atletico Madrid to win ‘to nil’ (31/20 BetVictor)

Juventus v Bayer Leverkusen – Juventus to win and Both Teams To Score (9/4 Betfair)

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