Champions League: Red Bull to give us good things on Tuesday

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THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE returns on Tuesday evening. James O'Rourke (@JamesOR1) shares his best bets in games not involving Premier League teams.

Lyon v Zenit St Petersburg | Tuesday 17th September 2019, 17:55 | BT Sport

If you can’t possibly wait until 8pm for your Champions League fix, then you’re in luck, as there are two games starting at the unique time of 5.55pm; one of which takes place in France. Lyon against Zenit is an attractive-looking contest on paper in Group G, with Benfica and Leipzig completing the group in what looks a very open foursome.

Lyon did begin their Ligue 1 campaign in most impressive fashion when comfortably winning 3-0 away in Monaco and then absolutely demolishing Angers 6-0 in their maiden home clash of the campaign. However, they’ve failed to back up this back-to-back triumph, then losing at Montpellier and drawing consecutive encounters at home to Bordeaux and then away in Amiens this weekend. One defeat in five is far from disastrous, but they’re probably a couple of points shorter than they’d ideally have liked.

Zenit are going great guns in the Russian Super League, winning five of their nine league clashes to date, suffering just the one loss. Whilst some will argue they should be competing at the top of a division such as this, but it is quite competitive with the likes of Krasnodar, CSKA Moscow and Lokomotiv Moscow among those offering some balance.

Lyon made it to the Round of 16 in this tournament last season, so they’ll expect to get out of this group, and failure to do so would be a big disappointment. Home form therefore is likely to be key to any potential success they have, so they’ll go all-out for three points to kick-start their group phase. Zenit will offer some resistance however, and they will not go down without a fight.

The French outfit just strike me as the sort of side which can win heavily one day, and then maybe lose 2-1 on another, against the same opposition. I don’t think they’re consistent enough to ever be hugely confident about. I mentioned about their home form, but they failed to win any of their four home matches in the competition last year, drawing them all, although that did include Barcelona and Man City. In fact, they’ve won just five of their last 22 Champions League home fixtures, keeping only six clean sheets.

Zenit have been absent from this tournament for a few seasons now, so they’ll be eager to prove themselves on the big stage. They’ve actually won nine of their last 16 away in the Champions League, including a victory in Lyon in 2015. It isn’t best to focus too much on those kind of figures given the squad has changed plenty since then, but they’ve scored in 18 of their last 23 league matches on the road.

I like Both Teams To Score here. Lyon will give this a go and for all they’ll look a threat going forward, I’m not convinced by them defensively just yet. I like this selection even more knowing we can get a price of 20/21 (Boylesports).

Benfica v RB Leipzig | Tuesday 17th September 2019, 20:00 | BT Sport

We’ve touched upon the other match which commences this group above, but now we’ll take a look at Benfica versus Leipzig, in what is again another game which catches the eye as one which could be a good watch. Two-time European Cup victors Benfica and only 10-year-old Leipzig play their first-ever competitive meeting.

Benfica look to have got back on track following a disappointing home loss to big rivals Porto last month. The following week they went to Braga, who have a very strong home record, and smashed them 4-0, before returning from the international break to secure a routine 2-0 home win over promoted Gil Vicente on Saturday night.

This very young Benfica squad that has been assembled by head coach Bruno Lage, who was on the coaching staff of Sheffield Wednesday and Swansea in recent years, certainly has potential, but they’re ultimately a selling club, with players like Joao Felix leaving for big fees recently.

Leipzig have really caught the eye in the Bundesliga since their season began. A home draw with Bayern Munich this weekend ended their 100% start to the campaign, but to remain undefeated, which includes an away win in Monchengladbach, means there is plenty to be excited about with this also young group of players. Much was expected of them now that Julian Nagelsmann is finally in the hot seat at Red Bull Arena, and they’re likely to entertain during their latest tilt in Europe.

The Portuguese club have been regular in this competition for several seasons now. They’ve appeared in it every year since and including 2010. They made the quarters in 2011/12 and 2015/16, whilst also reaching the last-16 in the Europa League last season. Leipzig also reached that stage in the Europa League in 2017/18, having finished third earlier in that season in what remains their only ever Champions League group stage, in a group containing Monaco, Besiktas and Porto.

This sort of game very much falls into the category of anything can really happen. This is two teams that has a very clear way of playing, and they’re both ultimately used to winning games. Home advantage may count for a lot, especially as only Porto (on two occasions) has won away in Benfica since November 2018.

I do however think that tactically this game might actually suit Leipzig quite well. I think they’re ultimately more developed than Benfica are, and Nagelsmann looks to have really kicked them on from last season.

Losing at home to Porto recently suggests that Benfica are still adapting and I do have slight concerns when they come up against strong opponents, given they’re used to facing opponents in Portugal that they’ll defeat 99 times out of 100 on a regular basis.

Leipzig Double Chance and Both Teams To Score will be the play at 6/5 (Bet365). I think this will be an entertaining game and one which shouldn’t disappoint. Both are used to scoring goals, whilst affording a minor edge to the Germans, especially considering the form Timo Werner finds himself in.

Red Bull Salzburg v Genk | Tuesday 17th September 2019, 20:00 | BT Sport

One of my favourite teams Salzburg are in action of Tuesday night, in what should be a great night for Red Bull! They finally get to showcase their talents on the Champions League stage after several seasons of trying to bypass the play-off stage. They have had joy in the Europa League however, including a semi-final appearance in 2017/18.

Genk have also been Europa League regulars of late, having last appeared in the Champions League group stage in 2011/12, when finishing bottom of a group containing Chelsea, Valencia and Bayer Leverkusen.

The Austrian team have once again started their domestic campaign in rather menacing fashion. Even now it is looking to be a foregone conclusion that they will secure yet another Austrian Bundesliga title. They’ve won seven from seven, and won 7-2 at the weekend over Hartberg, who had only lost one of their first six prior to that.

Salzburg have already scored 34(!) goals in those seven matches, 21 of which came at home. They’ve only lost six league games in 2017, 2018 and 2019 combined.

Genk certainly face more competitive when appearing in the Belgian league. They did however win the league last season to earn them a shot in this competition once more, which was their first league triumph since 2010/11.

The Blauw-Wit haven’t necessarily began the defence of their crown in blistering fashion. Three wins, three losses and a draw is the clear definition of an inconsistent start. Two of their three wins came at home, and two of their three losses came away. Their away record going into this season from the end of last is a bit of a concern. They’ve won just three of their last 12 league contests away.

Salzburg lost last a home league match in November 2016. They’ve also defeated Marseille, Real Sociedad, Lazio, Celtic, Leipzig and Club Brugge on the European scene on home soil in that period as well. They really are quite dominant and clearly incredibly tough to defeat. I really do think they are a team to fear in this competition, certainly in these early stages.

Both Salzburg and Genk will probably view the games with another as must-win considering Liverpool and Napoli complete the group, but Salzburg will run Napoli very, very close for second position. That I am sure.

Rather unsurprisingly, I am backing Salzburg to get the job done on Tuesday night. I expected them to be much shorter on the 1×2 line, but to throw in some extra value I’ll chuck in Over 1.5 Goals into the equation as well. Salzburg To Win and Over 1.5 Goals pays 20/23 (Ladbrokes). They really aren’t a 1-0 sort of team and they have the ability to go to town over a Genk side who have their issues on the road.

Confidence is most certainly no problem whatsoever in the Austrian ranks. Genk possibly achieved their high in winning the league last season, and backing that up was always going to be a tough challenge. To try and do that whilst also competing in Europe is probably something they could do without in a way.

Salzburg have been waiting for this moment for quite a few years now, and they won’t want to waste this opportunity.

Best Bets

Lyon v Zenit St Petersburg – Both Teams To Score (20/21 Boylesports)

Benfica v RB Leipzig – Leipzig Double Chance and Both Teams To Score (6/5 Bet365)

Red Bull Salzburg v Genk – Salzburg to Win and Over 1.5 Goals (20/23 Ladbrokes)

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