Champions League – Exciting encounter expected in Naples

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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.

Napoli v PSG | Tuesday 6th November 2018, 20:00 | BT Sport

The 2-2 draw between these two sides on matchday three was the definition of a humdinger. An injury time equaliser from Angel Di Maria scrambled a draw for PSG, who as things stand are set to take their spot in the Europa League, which would serve as something of an embarrassment given their embarrassment of riches. Realistically, the French outfit are going to need a win either in Napoli or the home encounter with Liverpool.

The Thomas Tuchel way of playing though is simply to attack, attack, attack. That mantra remains firmly in place for when they travel to the Stadio San Paolo on Tuesday night.

It is fair to say that Napoli, under the guidance of Carlo Ancelotti, have a relatively similar ethos is relation to how they play the game. Whilst they’re six points behind expected league leaders Juventus in Serie A, the pair are the joint-highest scorers in the top-flight of Italian football. They head into this encounter on the back of a 5-1 home win versus Empoli. Beating PSG here would take them four points clear of their opponents, and they still have to entertain group whipping boys Red Star.

It is tough to take the form of PSG too seriously right now, certainly when it applies to their exploits in Ligue 1. Before they kicked a ball this season, they knew there was a 99% chance that they would be claiming the trophy come the end of the campaign. They are firmly on track to achieve that right now, winning 12 out of 12 and enjoying an 11-point lead over second-placed Montpellier, who are level on points with Lille in third, who PSG defeated 2-1 at home on Friday night.

It is 41 goals scored within that period for PSG, with World Cup wonder Kylian Mbappe being the top scorer in the division with 11 of those. Lille did give PSG a good game, with all three goals emerging in the final 20 minutes. PSG were also made to work hard to despatch Marseille 2-0 the game previous to that, so they’ve certainly had some tests of late. The positive for is that they have emerged the right side of them, so they enter this trip to Italy in a positive frame of mind.

Napoli owe a lot of their early season success to that of dynamic offensive duo Dries Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne. The pair of responsible for 14 of their 24 Serie A goals this season, so expect this duo to be looking to polish off attacks once Napoli progress into the final third.

Napoli may well be unbeaten in the Champions League this season, but a 0-0 opening day draw with Red Star will have disappointed them, regardless of the fact it was played in a hostile atmosphere. They reacted to that excellently with a home triumph over group leaders Liverpool, and then of course the draw in Paris last month.

Goal difference will be a slight issue for the Partenopei at this stage, given the fact they have failed to put any goals past the Serbs on matchday one. PSG and Liverpool netted six and four respectively, giving them goal differences of +4 and +3. Napoli have scored three and conceded two, with the match in Paris being largely responsible for that.

Being at home, they will still sense the chance to have a real go at PSG, who are certainly offensively minded. It was witnessed when they travelled to Anfield that they will concede some chances. I’d go as far as to say it was fact that this will occur. Napoli being at home will look to be positive anyway, plus PSG can only play one way.

This has the makings of goals, just like the first match was. PSG have conceded twice to Liverpool and Napoli already, plus even bottom side from Serbia found the back of the net against Les Parisiens as well. With Paris perhaps feeling under a little more pressure going into this, with them sitting third to Napoli’s second, they may look to try and take the game to Napoli. This could lead to them enjoying quite a bit of possession, but that won’t necessarily concern Ancelotti too much.

The Italians have already scored at least twice over the likes of Lazio, Milan, Torino, Udinese, and, of course Paris this season. They are also especially tough to beat in front of their own supporters. We can count on one hand the amount of times that has happened in this calendar year, the last of which came all the way back in March.

As mentioned, we can’t take PSG’s form too literally in Ligue 1, simply because they really should be winning every game given the wealth at their disposal compared to the rest.

So if we focus on their Champions League exploits over time, it makes for some interesting reading. Something which does stand out is how they tend to struggle on the road. Their only victories on the road over the last two campaigns in Europe’s elite tournament came when beating Ludogorets, Basel, Celtic and Anderlecht. The last ‘big team’ they did defeat on the road in this tournament was Chelsea in March 2016.

Since then, PSG have been to Manchester City, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and, earlier this season, Liverpool, and been beaten. It is perhaps fair to acknowledge that Tuchel only oversaw the Liverpool leg, and it took an injury time Roberto Firmino goal to separate the two.

Looking at Napoli in this tournament, it would be fair to say that they’re still looking to make their mark in this competition in recent times. However, once again, Ancelotti has only been at the helm since the summer, and he is now starting to get a tune out of his players. They’ve lost just once in their last 11 in all competitions, and that was away in Juventus. They’ve only lost twice all season, the other being away in Sampdoria in the third match of the season.

First thoughts of Napoli versus PSG is goals. The 2-2 draw is very much a fair reflection of how most matches between these two would play out. They shared 30 shots on goal in that one single match alone.

With both needing the win on Tuesday, don’t be surprised to see those types of numbers reached again. How PSG play will dictate this match. They’ll have a go. The 3-2 loss in Liverpool is another example of this.

Therefore, Both Teams To Score is one avenue we cannot ignore, but the odds mean we will. To boost it further, we’ll add over 2.5 goals. Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score is available at 4/5 (Sky Bet).

We all know how PSG play, and for all what they’ll offer going forward, they’ll be open at times at the back, and a side that can counter and press such as Napoli will exploit them at some stage. 73% of Napoli’s league games have passed 2.5, and the same is said of 92% for PSG (in the league).

Schalke v Galatasaray | Tuesday 6th November 2018, 20:00 | BT Sport

Let us set the scene in Group D. Porto top the group with seven points, closely followed by Schalke with five. Turkish outfit Galatasaray are positioned in the Europa League spot on four points, with Lokomotiv Moscow bottom and pointless. Therefore, only a point separates these two sides prior to their meeting in Gelsenkirchen.

It means there is a lot on the line, with Schalke knowing a win would give them a great chance of progression, especially as they still have Lokomotiv to entertain at home. They won’t be taking anything for granted here however, especially as the two played out a goalless draw at the Turk Telekom Stadı last month.

Whilst that clash did indeed end 0-0, it is a mystery as to how. Schalke were by far the better team, squandering at least four excellent opportunities to claim what would have been a precious three points. Schalke had 17 shots compared to Galatasaray’s nine, and certainly improved as the game progressed.

Both teams may enter this in contrasting circumstances in relation to their domestic league standings, but it doesn’t tell the entire story. Galatasaray, as expected, as involved in the title race for the Turkish Super Lig. They sit second, four-points behind league leaders Basaksehir, but Fatih Terim’s men are winless in their last three in the league, four when we include the first meeting with Schalke.

A big issue for that is an injury list which is damaging Gala in the final third. Eren Derdiyok, their number nine, has not played since Schalke were the visitors down to an injury. Terim is not blessed with too many options in this area, with winger Sinan Gümüş occupying this role recently. This has led to a downturn in form.

Galatasaray just aren’t scoring too many goals at present. Whilst they did net twice in the action-packed draw with rivals Fenerbahce, they’ve still only netted five goals in their previous eight matches in all competitions. They’ve only had two clean sheets in that period, one ironically against Schalke, although poor finishing and fine goalkeeping by long-serving Fernando Muslera meant that was the case.

Despite all this, Gala still hold a chance of progression. However, a bad away record this season tempers too much enthusiasm of a positive outcome on Tuesday night. They’ve had six away games in all competitions so far, four of which have ended in defeat. They’ve failed to score in all those defeats, and most of these came prior to Derdiyok’s injury.

Schalke have been anything but spectacular this season, after all, they are only four points and two places above the bottom three in the Bundesliga. They began the campaign in unbelievably bad fashion. It took them until September 29th to win their first league game of the season, and that has certainly lifted spirits around the club since then. Over their last eight in all competitions, they’ve lost just the once.

There are certainly signs of recovery at the Veltins-Arena, and progression into the next stage of the Champions League remains firmly within their control. A worry for them is that they’ve only won twice at home in the current campaign, although those two came within their last three in front of their own supporters. Again, shoots of recovery.

Only group leaders Porto have managed to score past the Royal Blues in the competition so far, during their 1-1 draw in Germany on matchday one. Porto did miss an early penalty in that match, so it was a point gained. Matches involving Schalke this season have tended to be quite tight affairs. This suggests that even whilst results were going against them, they weren’t being heavily beaten.

Beating Hannover 3-1 at home at the weekend was the first time in which Schalke scored more than twice in a game this season, so in terms of confidence they are in their best place for some time. They’ll therefore relish the chance to get back into European action and continue their upward momentum.

That 3-1 was also the only occasion this season in which the 3.5 line has been beaten in one of their matches. With Schalke being involved in close games for the duration of the campaign, and with Galatasaray struggling for form at the moment, having a shortage of available forwards contributing to some tight encounters, we don’t envisage too many goals on Tuesday night when the two meet up.

Schalke should have won the first game and they are now in an even better mind-set. Galatasaray have been poor travellers over the campaign and it’ll need a big effort for them to gain a positive outcome here.

There has only been six goals in the first half of Schalke’s league games this season, so that proves that they can keep things tight, before then looking to offer more later on in proceedings. Coach Domenico Tedesco is only 33, but he has his methods and won’t shift from them.

The stats prove that they do tend to kick on in the second half. 88% of their league goals came within the second half. However, it is worth noting that had enough openings to score in either half when travelling to Gala first time around.

The fact of the matter is that Schalke need to be winning this game and making the most of home advantage. They are on the up, whilst Galatasaray have too many issues right now to be wildly confident of expecting a little bit of a shock. Schalke would be unlucky to create the chances they did in the first match and not win, let alone fail to score.

Schalke just seemingly have an issue with taking too many of their openings. They’ve scored only twice in Europe so far. Also, only bottom two Dusseldorf and Stuttgart, and also Mainz, have scored fewer than Schalke have in the Bundesliga this season.

Despite only being just above the relegation zone, Schalke have conceded only 12. That is only two more than league leaders Borussia Dortmund, one more than Bayern Munich and the same as second-placed Borussia Monchengladbach.

Goals aren’t flowing for Schalke this season and Gala aren’t in the best of shape right now. Therefore, Schalke to win and Under 3.5 Goals is the way we’ll go for this one. It pays out 23/20 (Boylesports), which is a handy little price all things considered.

Best Bets

Napoli v PSG – Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score (4/5 Sky Bet)

Schalke v Galatasaray – Schalke to win and Under 3.5 Goals (23/20 Boylesports)

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