Borussia Dortmund v Atletico Madrid | Wednesday 24th October 2018, 20:00 | BT Sport
Both these sides have registered maximum points so far in this competition and their meeting on Wednesday night in North Rhein-Westphalia promises to be an intriguing clash of styles.
Lucien Favre has injected some fresh energy since his arrival at Dortmund. Transfer business in the summer was canny and they’re now reaping the rewards by sitting top of the tree in the Bundesliga standings.
BVB remain undefeated in all competitions and the Yellow Wall faithful have right to be optimistic for a domestic and continental challenge.
Atleti have gone about their business in steady fashion, unbeaten in their last eight in all competitions. They’re a tough nut to crack on the European circuit and their pragmatic approach would see a point here as a good result with the reverse fixture coming up in a fortnight.
Diego Simeone has a fully fit squad to choose from and you best believe the capital club will set-up in their classic organised fashion.
The outright market has Dortmund as slight favourites here and I guess that’s fair, however I’m getting involved in a fairly obscure goals-based angle. Bet365 go 4/5 on Under 1 first-half goal on the Asian line and I think that has credence.
Both Dortmund’s Champions League fixtures have been goalless at the break and it takes until after the interval to see them do most of their damage, when they bring the likes of Jadon Sancho and Paco Alcacer on.
Los Rojiblancos will look to keep it tight in the early periods too; it’s their way of doing things. There has been just a single first-half goal in all of their last four games and their two banks of four is notoriously hard to break down, in the opening exchanges at least.
The 0-0 half time correct score could appeal at 2/1 but I’m happy to take the insurance available on this line. If one first-half goal is scored then our stakes are returned, a goalless first-half will see us profit.
I’m also dipping into the player Cards market in this fixture as I don’t think this price will be about come kick-off.
Bet365 have Atletico right-back Juanfran at 9/2 to be booked and that’s simply too big to ignore. The experienced Spaniard is one of Simeone’s stalwarts and has racked up five yellows already this season. With Atleti likely to soak up the pressure and overcrowd the middle of the park, Dortmund may have to utilise the full width of the pitch and get running at the 33-year-old.
Considering Juanfran is as short as 17/10 with rival firms, the 9/2 is standout value in my book.
Barcelona v Inter Milan | Wednesday 24th October 2018, 20:00 | BT Sport
Two relatively recent winners of this competition have been pitted against each other in Group B. One side is on a seven-match winning run, the other have won just two out of their last 6. Spoiler alert: It’s not the way round you’d imagine.
Barcelona have had an indifferent start to the campaign, failing to beat Girona, Leganes and Athletic Bilbao so far. It’s defensively where the Catalan club have struggled, a far cry from their strong backline last season.
Underlying performance data stresses that they’ve not been unlucky to concede the goals they have done. They’ve leaked on average 1.2 goals per-game this season in La Liga and that mirrors the Expected Goals conceded figure. One clean sheet in nine is an indictment on how porous they’ve been at the back.
Inter boss Luciano Spaletti should be targeting this as a potential upset, especially when you throw in the fact Lionel Messi will be missing due to an arm injury.
Messi’s absence cannot be underestimated; Ernesto Valverde has tried to rest him prior to big Champions League games but has had to bring him on in order to salvage something. His performance at Wembley against Spurs was majestic and it’s a huge blow for the Blaugrana.
Inter dramatically snatched the victory in the Derby Della Maddonnia against fierce rivals AC due to a Mauro Icardi strike late on. The Nerazzurri haven’t been playing unbelievably well despite their strong run but their clinical edge has seen them pick up maximum points in the majority of games.
Optimists will hope that Inter can go to another level in terms of performance and I still think there’s more to come from the guests. I was looking to get with Inter on the Asian Handicap but prices are more prohibitive than I imagined.
Instead I’m going to take a goals-based angle and plump for the 20/21 (Boylesports) on Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score. Even without Messi, Barca should have enough about them to get a couple of goals here with Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele likely to flank Luis Suarez in a 4-3-3.
Defensively though it’s tough to find faith in the hosts keeping their sheets clean. Inter have one of Europe’s elite strikers in Icardi and if he gets service, nine times out of 10 he hits the back of the net.
Both Inter’s Champions League matches this season saw this bet land, as did Barca’s away trip to Spurs.
Borussia Dortmund v Atletico Madrid – Under 1 first-half Asian goal (4/5 Bet365)
Borussia Dortmund v Atletico Madrid – Juanfran to be carded (9/2 Bet365)
Barcelona v Inter Milan – Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score (20/21 Boylesports)