THE Champions League returns on Tuesday night and European football fanatic Jonny O'Sullivan (@libero_the) picks out his favourite fancies in matches not involving Premier League interest.
After a long international break, midweek football with purpose is back in the form of the Champions League. Once again Europe's elite will go toe-to-toe with the hope of grinding through the group stages towards the glitz and glamour of the knockout stages in the New Year.
On Tuesday there are some mightily tasty games for the neutral to cast their eyes over. Atletico Madrid have scored fewer goals than they have played games so far in the league and will have the perfect chance to boost confidence levels against a Leverkusen who simply cannot defend. The two teams will come to blows as one of the earlier kick-offs alongside Shakhtar Donetsk hosting Dinamo Zagreb.
Real Madrid travel to Galatasaray off the back of yet another toothless display in the league, losing 1-0 against a newly-promoted side whilst Bayern Munich's domestic troubles continued with a 2-2 draw against 16th-placed Augsburg. The German side has the difficult task of travelling to Olympiakos, who are still sore off a poor performance in Serbia.
Atletico Madrid v Bayer Leverkusen | Tuesday 22nd October 2019, 17:55 | BT Sport
Atletico Madrid are really struggling in front of goal in La Liga. Álvaro Morata struggles for consistency whilst Diego Costa's age has really caught up with him in recent times and shows with his lack of goals. Joao Felix will be out after he suffered a twisted ankle over the weekend which is a huge blow to the dynamism that Atletico hold when going forward.
Just eight goals in nine games this season for Atletico stinks of a side struggling for relegation. In fact, it is the club that many tipped would break Barcelona's mini spell of domestic dominance this season. This return is simply not good enough. However, luckily enough for us, Atletico are slotting left, right and centre in the Champions League.
Atletico Madrid to win to nil (8/5 Bet365) is the bet. And what makes the Spaniards such an unbelievable pick is their incredible defensive efforts.
Valencia’s Dani Parejo can be super proud of his free-kick at the weekend, as it takes some effort to beat Jan Oblak from inside the box, never mind from 30 yards out. The Slovenian number one may not possess the same glitz and glamour as some of his counterparts, but it is hard to hint any keeper in the world is fit to lace his boots in terms of shot-stopping.
Parejo's goal was the first effort that he picked out of his net in six games and Atletico have only conceded in three matches this season.
It will be interesting to see if Leverkusen manage to test Oblak much this match, as they have quite frankly looked out of sorts this season. Life without Julian Brandt has been difficult for German side this term, especially for his partner in crime Kai Havertz. The responsibility has weighed far too heavy on the 20-year-old.
Leverkusen have flattered to deceive in their big away games this season. A 4-0 loss of Dortmund and 3-0 against Juventus and Frankfurt have spoken volumes. Die Werkself look like they lack a spark and it would be a huge surprise to see them rediscover their late 2018/19 season form in the Wanda.
Galatasaray v Real Madrid | Tuesday 22nd October 2019, 20:00 | BT Sport
In recent seasons, there has been a sense of escapism about Real Madrid's European form. Without even putting up much of a contest to Barcelona's title wins in recent years, Madrid's superstars have always saved their best for their European endeavours. However, this appears to have changed this season and arguably last.
Real start their third game of the Champions League sitting at the base of their group after being spanked by Idrissa Gueye in Paris and undeservedly snatching a draw against Club Brugge. Before this weekend, Madrid have been decent in the league but reverting back to their old ways with a shock 1-0 loss to Mallorca who have only just been promoted.
Zinedine Zidane’s team come up against a decent Galatasaray side who were mightily unlucky to get beat against PSG in their last game and held their own away in Belgium against Brugge. It also is worth mentioning that Real will be travelling to one of the most hostile places in world football off the back of their ropey form.
It would be expected the Spaniards will be in for a rude awakening when they arrive. It may be a Galatasaray side not firing in their domestic season, but quite often games like this throw all form out the window for the lesser club.
Galatasaray's whole season will largely be determined by their performances in these massive games. Radamel Falcao is fighting desperately to be fit in time for their big clash but Ronald Koeman's favourite child Ryan Babel will always own a threat going forward and backing the Turks to score first (103/50 Marathon) is worth considering.
Olympiakos v Bayern Munich | Tuesday 22nd October 2019, 20:00 | BT Sport
Serge Gnabry is simply in sensation form. The man who was not good enough for West Brom is certainly showing that he is the man to attempt to fill the void of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery at club level to become a superb wide man.
The former Arsenal youth produced a remarkable performance at Spurs and provided some of the most emphatic finishes you are likely to see this season in the Champions League. Following on from his four goals at Spurs, Gnabry scored another glorious goal in Bayern Munich's disappointing 2-2 draw against Augsburg at the weekend.
The unpredictability of Bayern would suggest that they could certainly slaughter Olympiakos this week or they could stumble to a tedious draw or scrape a 1-0 win through a piece of brilliance from the prolific Robert Lewandowski.
To find a bet with proper value over even-money is a tricky task, therefore to get more than double your cash for a forward player who is in the form of his life to score a goal appears a very attractive bet, indeed. Take Gnabry to score at anytime (7/5 SkyBet).