Champions League: Barcelona to bag top honours in Prague

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THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE continues on Wednesday night. We asked Tom Love (@TomLove_18) to source the best bets from matches not involving Premier League interest.

Lille v Valencia | Wednesday 23rd October 2019, 20:00 | BT Sport

I personally had this Lille side down as dark horses for the Champions League, so far they’re W0-D0-L2 record thus is not a great start. That being said, the Ligue 1 outfit were unlucky on the opening week as they lost 3-0 against Ajax in Amsterdam. Les Dogues actually won the Expected Goals (xG) battle in that clash, generating a figure north of 2.00.

Likeable gaffer Christophe Galtier will be delighted that his side will be at their fortress Stade Pierre-Mauroy this midweek. They probably deserved a point against Chelsea but exclude that and they’re unbeaten at home this season. The Flanders-based club managed to win over 70% of their home Ligue 1 games last season too as they finished second.

Lille need to be targeting a win here if they have genuine aspirations for qualification as they welcome a Valencia side that are a bit all over the place at the minute.

Relationships with owner Peter Lim and the Mestella faithful are fractured to put it lightly. The Singapore-based businessman took the decision to sack reliable manager Marcelino and it didn’t go down well and only added more fuel to the fire.

Fair play to Los Che though, they managed to get a point at the Wanda Metropolitano at the weekend but it continued their very inconsistent form, a key trait of this side, if you could call it that. They didn’t deserve to lose 3-0 at home against Ajax – a stunner from Hakim Ziyech pretty much summed that up – and Ajax scored the other two from their only strong chances in the box.

However, Valencia sit 10th in La Liga and xG has them 11th which is very poor for a team as big as Los Che. Goals have been a feature in their games with 2.90 goals per-game, but xG says there should be 3.60 per-game on average. I’ve been far from convinced with their defensive efforts and that train of thought is backed up in the performance data with the club giving up 1.90 xG per-game.

With this in mind, I love the look of Lille Double Chance and Over 1 Goal at 10/11 (Bet365). Les Dogues need the win but the draw is a runner with both these sides I find, Valencia would take a point here I feel since they beat Chelsea on matchday one. Goals shouldn’t be a problem and I will err towards the hosts with their strong home form and greater need.

Slavia Prague v Barcelona | Wednesday 23rd October 2019, 20:00 | BT Sport

It looks like a tricky trip to the Czech Republic for Barcelona on matchday three. Ernesto Valverde saw his side draw 0-0 in a surprisingly low-scoring encounter with Dortmund on the opening week but they came from behind to win against Inter Milan last time out to extend their phenomenal home form in Europe’s most prestigious competition.

Barca tend to have a problem winning away against the continental elite but against lower ranked teams they usually have enough quality to get by. They’ve failed to beat the likes of Man City, Liverpool, PSG and Juventus on the road but they have got the job done against the likes of Monchengladbach, Celtic, Sporting and Man United, the games they should win.

I’m sure Slavia Prague will make it tough for the Blaugrana, however the visitors come into this one on the back of a five-game winning run, conceding just twice in that streak.

Another boost, in a way, for Barca is the postponement of the El Clasico which was due for this coming weekend, it means Valverde can go with his strongest team here and he’s got his big guns available. The trio of Luis Suarez, Antoine Griezmann and Lionel Messi all managed to get on the scoresheet at Eibar this weekend and Messi will have further continental records he’s looking to break.

There’s clearly a gulf in class between the two but Valverde’s pragmatic approach in Europe sees me wanting to oppose a barrage of goals in an away win and I’ll gladly boost the 4/9 on the Catalans to near even-money quotes of 10/11 by chucking in Under 4.5 Goals.

In fact, the last eight UCL games involving the Slavia have seen fewer than three goals, and with that in mind, a small play on the 2-0 correct scoreline for the visitors could appeal at 31/4 with Sportingbet.

Best Bets

Lille v Valencia – Lille double chance and Over 1 Goal (10/11 Bet365)

Slavia Prague v Barcelona – Barcelona to win and Under 4.5 Goals (10/11 Betway)

Slavia Prague v Barcelona – Barcelona to win 2-0 (31/4 Sportingbet)

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