Champions League: Catalans can conquer Inter


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.

Genk v Napoli | Wednesday 2nd October 2019, 17:55 | BT Sport

Genk were torn apart by a vibrant Salzburg side on matchday one, eventually losing 6-2 after been obliterated in the first half where they conceded five times. It doesn’t reflect well on their defence and it’s becoming a real problem area for the Smurfs.

The Belgian side have conceded in eight of 10 outings this season, letting in two or more in five of those eight games. Seven of their 10 have seen Over 2.5 Goals cop too so the chances of a goal-heavy game as Napoli come to town look eminently possible.

Despite losing key man Luca Trossard to Brighton in the summer, Genk still play attacking football and look to score goals. Ianis Hagi was brought in from Vitorul in Romania and he possesses a lot of the qualities Trossard had; the son of the famous Gheorge has bagged three times this season from midfield in his three appearances.

African striking duo Paul Onauchu and Mbwana Samatta can cause any defence problems and the latter is in good form with five goals in his last games. They can play their part in an entertaining encounter and I wouldn’t be surprised if they managed to notch here.

They will be up against it to keep out this dangerous Napoli side, mind. The Partenopei were deserving victors a fortnight ago against the European champions Liverpool.

There’s plenty of options for boss Carlo Ancelotti in the forward areas. Dynamism in the form of Dries Mertens, Jose Callejon, Hirving Lozano and Lorenzo Insigne can cause havoc for opposition defences, but they’ve got strong alternative options in Arkadiusz Milik and Fernando Llorente should they want to go direct or try get crosses in.

Ancelotti must be delighted that film producer and owner Aurelio De Laurentiis allowed him to keep hold of the front four of last season but also add Lozano and Llorente to further boost the attacking potency. They’ve got a really strong squad now; Fabian Ruiz and Allan have a pleasant mix of ball playing skill and tenacity, Kalidou Koulibaly is one of the best centre backs in the world and Kostas Manolas has been brought in to partner him. If they’re weak anywhere it would probably be at full back.

Nevertheless, they should have too much quality for this Genk side and odds as short as 2/5 look warranted. However, I’m happy to cuck in Over 2.5 Goals alongside an away win to garner a more palatable 10/11 quote (Coral).

Genk may well get on the scoresheet being at home but I just think Napoli will outscore them. Napoli and BTTS could appeal at 6/4 but this bet covers the possibility of 3-0, 4-0, 5-0 etc.

Barcelona v Inter Milan | Wednesday 2nd October 2019, 20:00 | BT Sport

Barcelona played out a surprise 0-0 draw at Dortmund on matchday one. Many would’ve expected goals galore in that clash but defences we’re on top. Thankfully for the Blaugrana they return to their Camp Nou base and they relish these home European nights. It’s a quite impeccable record, unbelievably they’ve lost just once here in 10 years in this competition!

You’d be a brave man to back against them here and even if they’re without injury doubt Leo Messi they still should have enough in the tank to dispose of a new look Inter Milan side. Antonio Conte has had a good start at the San Siro, in fact it’s been a perfect start in Serie A at least with six wins from six. In true Conte style they’ve been solid at the back, keeping four clean sheets and conceding just twice.

Conte comes across as a domestic title winning manager, his focus lies in the bread and butter of Serie A and they have a genuine chance of disrupting the Juventus monopoly. His record in the Champions League is in stark contrast really, his sides rarely trouble the latter stages.

The Nerazzurri were disappointing two weeks ago, drawing 1-1 at home against Slavia Prague, a game they were expected to win. They didn’t really deserve to, they won the Expected Goals (xG) battle but only 1.53-1.09 so it was far from convincing. I think they will come to the Catalan capital and play in quite a defensive manner in the classic Conte 5-3-2 formation.

That being said, Barca are accustomed to teams taking that approach and they should find a way to win. I can’t take my eyes off that home record and they’ve managed to win without the star man Messi on plenty of other occasions; he’s not 100% ruled out of this game either and he could play a part if needed.

All things considered I think the odds-against offering on a home win and Under 4.5 Goals looks like stunning value with Betway. Barca have kept a clean sheet in five of their last seven Champions League games and might well do so again here. Should they take the lead they have the quality in possession to see the game out and under Ernesto Valverde they’re slightly more withdrawn and pragmatic in their approach, with the cavalier years of Pep Guardiola are long gone.

What’s more, Barca have seen fewer than three goals in five or their last six meetings with Inter, they’ve also won their last five at home against the Milan club. Inter have also failed to win in each of their last five Champions League games and all five also saw Under 2.5 Goals.

All in all, everything is pointing at a relatively low-scoring home win.

Best Bets

Genk v Napoli – Napoli to win and Over 2.5 Goals (10/11 Coral

Barcelona v Inter Milan – Barcelona to win and Under 4.5 Goals (21/20 Betway)

About Author

I was first interested in the betting industry by doing the odd coupon at 18 - when I’d see a team at odds I didn’t expect it sparked my curiosity as to why that was. I’d go and research everything around that club: form, team news, manager quotes, and try give my own price in an aim to out-do the bookies. I personally enjoy punting on the Football League and European competitions. I like to diversify what markets I bet on so sometimes it’s outrights, goals, player cards etc. The Football League angle comes from being an avid Bradford City fan which has its ups (reaching a League Cup final and beating Chelsea in the FA Cup) and its downs (The entirety of 2018). Hobbies of mine include playing football, cross country running, travelling and playing Football Manager.

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