Sevilla vs Salzburg | Tuesday 13th September 2021, 17:45 | BT Sport
Sevilla’s clash with Barcelona was postponed on Saturday meaning they have the advantage of coming in to this MD1 clash with Salzburg refreshed after the international break and having had ample preparation time with no other distractions.
In contrast however Jaissle Matthias’s side were pushed all the way by Austrian Admiral Bundesliga bottom side Tirol until two goals in the last seven minutes secured a 3-1 win and kept their 100% record under the new manager intact.
This will be a tough test for the visitors given the Spanish sides apparent love for the opening fixture in European competition, having only lost their curtain raiser three times in the last 21 campaigns, winning 12.
Los Nervionenses have only lost one of their last nine UCL group games – a 4-0 thumping at the hands of Chelsea in December – with over 2.5 goals scored in their last six games in the tournament.
It would be a massive surprise not to see goals here with over 2.5 goals landing in 9 of Salzburg's last 10 UCL fixtures and they have contributed at least two goals themselves in eight of them, with the 18-group stage matches they have competed in so far producing an incredible average of 3.7 total goals per game.
Despite the loss of star striker Patson Daka to Leicester, Die Roten Bullen have displayed incredible goalscoring form in the early weeks of the season, smashing 19 goals in their seven straight victories – which stretches their winning streak to 15 competitive games scoring 45 times.
As displayed in the 3-1 and 6-2 defeats to Bayern Munich in this competition last season I don’t think the Austrian champions know how to play any other way than on the front foot – they could certainly cause Julen Lopetegui’s side some headaches and as a result I am happy to take on the relatively high goal line of 2.5, 3.0 at 1/1 with Bet 365.
Staying with the goals theme and I am resisting temptation to put forward Salzburg teen sensation Karim Adeyemi who scored his first goal for Germany against Armenia last week having already found the net six times in his first seven league appearances for his club.
Instead, I’m siding with a more established striker in Sevilla’s Youssef En-Nesyri who has an incredible average of a goal every 64 minutes in his eight UCL appearances to date, at odds of 10/11 he is plenty short enough but in what I envisage to be an open game I would be surprised not to see his name on the scoresheet.
Barcelona v Bayern Munich | Tuesday 13th September 2021, 20:00 | BT Sport
On paper the tie of the evening – two of Europe’s heavyweights colliding on MD1 – but this could be seen as a mismatch as Bayern continue to evolve under Julian Nagelsmann while Barcelona continue to lurch from one crisis to another and to put it bluntly are a shambles.
While Barcelona put their feet up following the postponement of their clash with Sevilla, Bayern posted a sensational performance at the weekend in swatting aside RB Leipzig and as a result come visit the Nou Camp as favourites in this new Messi-less era.
A host of injuries will not help Ronald Koeman as he plots an unlikely victory in what could be part one of a shoot-out for that all important top spot in the group with that infamous 8-2 humiliation from little more than 12 months ago still fresh in Catalan minds.
Although a repeat must surely be unlikely, I can still see a comfortable win on the cards for the German champions.
Available at a shade of odds against at time of writing – that price is rapidly shrinking with every check – so instead I will put forward a Bayern win on a –1 Asian Handicap at an attractive 13/8 – however I would play anything from 10/11 or bigger for a straight win.
For my second bet I’m combining Nagelsmann’s past with his present.
This column last year regularly took advantage of some generous pricing on Angelino based on his position being left-back – however looking at his heat map it was clear he was far more advanced.
Coming right up to date and we switch Angelino with Alphonso Davies, who already has two assists to his name in his last two outings- but I am going to focus on the shots market here.
Two shots from the opening four games of the Bundesliga season have both been off target, but I am expecting the Canadian international to get even more involved as he comes to grips with his new manager’s set up and expectations.
Look back just a couple of seasons and, although in a different league, the 20-year-old fired in 36 shots from just 31 appearances but both interestingly and impressively nearly half of those ended up on target – 15.
I’m prepared to take the juicy odds of 4/1 that Davies can find his range again and have at least one shot on target.
Dynamo Kiev vs Benfica | Tuesday 13th September 2021, 20:00 | BT Sport
There is a big clash in Kiev as the “other two” do battle to get a foothold in Group E before taking on Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
Benfica suffered their worst finishing position in the Primeira Liga since 2009 resulting in having to qualify for this competition through the preliminary rounds – however that could be a blessing in disguise in the short term as they come in to this clash in top form.
A 5-0 win at Santa Clara on Saturday was an eighth win in nine competitive fixture this season with the 0-0 draw in Eindhoven which guaranteed qualification to the group stage being the only other game in that sequence.
That was also the only game so far where the Eagles haven’t scored at least two goals but while the front end of the team fired, with 19 goals from those nine games the defence has kept the back door firmly closed conceding just three goals and keeping six clean sheets.
Although Dynamo Kyiv have made a flying start to the season themselves, dropping just two points in their opening seven matches and scoring 22 goals they potentially have an injury crisis in attack, with Eric Ramirez, Artem Besedin, Vladyslav Kulach and Ibrahim Kargbo all reportedly missing.
As a result, the 15/8 on offer for Benfica to keep another clean sheet as they did in both away legs of their qualifiers holds great appeal.
A familiar man will be in the middle in Ukraine, Anthony Taylor, the very same referee who took charge of Benfica’s Champions League Qualification Semi-final 2nd leg when they defeated Spartak Moscow 2-0.
Both sides picked up two cards that day and it is a play that appeals again.
Five of the home sides seven fixtures this season has seen both teams pick up two or more cards, including each of the last four, with a total of 33 yellow cards issued.
Jorge Jesus's side have seen six of their nine fixtures have both sides collect at least two cards, including four of the last five – there has also already been three red cards brandished, twice for their own players in Lucas Verissimo and Diogo Goncalves.
Taylor has officiated four European club competition games in 2021 – three in the UCL and one in UEL – on each occasion he has shown at least two cards to both teams, on two of those occasions he went on to show at least three.
A total of 25 yellow cards at an average of 6.25 per game is a far higher average than his domestic work so makes the play with Bet 365 – who are offering much higher odds than the other firms – a strong one.
Lille vs Wolfsburg | Tuesday 13th September 2021, 20:00 | BT Sport
Two sides in contrasting form do battle in northern France.
Lille have returned to Earth with a bit of a bump after shocking PSG by storming their way to the Ligue 1 title, however their defence of that title is off to a shoddy start with just one win in five games leaving them eighth and some seven points off the leaders.
Wolfsburg on the other hand are in fine fettle, taking advantage of a kind start to the season which consisted of games against two of the three promoted sides (although they did also beat Leipzig) to be the only side in the Bundesliga still in possession of a 100% record.
After guiding his team to their best ever league start Mark Van Bommel will now be looking to extend Le LOSC’s dismal run of home form in this competition, having not won at home in any of their previous three UCL campaigns – an away win here is 17/10.
The visitors will be looking to their prolific Netherlands striker Wout Weghorst to get them off to a winning start at Stade Pierre-Mauroy and he certainly won’t be feeling jaded after his international exertions, having never left the bench to play so much as a minute for his national team.
Back in domestic action the 29-year-old slotted an injury time penalty to secure the three points against lowly Greuther Furth and should go in to this clash in good spirits as all five of his UCL goals have come when on the road – odds of 8/5 will do for me.
Malmo vs Juventus | Tuesday 13th September 2021, 20:00 | BT Sport
Malmo have navigated four rounds of qualifiers just to get to this stage but seem to have hit a sticky run of form just at the wrong time having not won any of their last three competitive fixtures.
Not the sort of run manager Jon Dahl Tomasson would want to be on as they look to improve on a record of having lost 10 of the 12 games they have played in this competition.
However, the former Newcastle striker will possibly take comfort from the start the opposition have made to their Serie A campaign.
If the Old Lady thought bringing their old manager back would immediately restore old glories – they were mistaken, after failing to pick up a win in any of their three opening fixtures including an embarrassing first league defeat to newly promoted Empoli since 1999.
However, Max Allegri will at least have his South American contingent available after Paulo Dybala, Rodrigo Bentancur, Juan Cuadrado, Alex Sandro and Danilo all missed the weekend's 2-1 loss to Napoli after returning late from international duty.
Arguably the most crucial inclusion in the starting eleven will be Alvaro Morata who opened his account for the season in the aforementioned defeat at the weekend – and in the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo, will be carrying the weight of scoring expectation on his shoulders.
Out for revenge after Sweden’s defeat of his national team the 28-year-old will be looking to get his UCL campaign off to a similar start as he did last term – when he scored the first four goals of Juventus’ away ties.
My second selection is a price play as two sides in need of a win clash with the game officiated by a referee who is definitely not afraid to get his cards out.
Artur Manuel Ribeiro Soares Dias has taken charge of five UCL or UEL ties this year and after a tepid cardless encounter between Borussia Monchengladbach and Manchester City has produced 23 yellow and three red cards in the next four fixtures – all of which seeing at least two cards for each team.
The Portuguese official has stellar form in domestic action too showing 71 yellow cards and two red from his 16 games in charge – taking 11 names in a recent game between Benfica and Porto, with at least two cards for each team occurring nine times.
Odds of 2/1 are too tempting to let pass by.
Villarreal vs Atalanta | Tuesday 13th September 2021, 20:00 | BT Sport
The final preview is the tightest to call with the bookies having slight preference for Villarreal – and I happen to agree.
Unai Emery guided his side to the top table of European club football after a customary win in the Europa League back in May and they will look to take advantage of an Atalanta side that look a little out of sorts currently.
The Yellow Submarine themselves have started with three La Liga draws – although the last one was pretty much all their own doing as a 95th minute Aissa Mandi own goal snatched away what would have been a fantastic win over Atletico Madrid.
Villarreal won all seven home games on their way to claiming the Europa League crown and are another side who had their game postponed last weekend so will come in to this one fresh.
I like the odds of 4/5 to claim the safety net of draw no bet as we know the visitors can be a tough opponent if on song and their one win this season did come on the road at Torino, while a draw with Bologna and loss to Fiorentina on Saturday came in front of their own fans.
One player I am really looking forward to seeing at this level is Arnaut Danjuma – who really impressed last season at Bournemouth – scoring 17 goals and supplying seven assists from his 35 league games and although this is arguably a couple of steps up in class, I am still expecting him to shine.
Fighting his way back from injury the 24-year-old has already opened his account for his new club in just 33 minutes of action – with doubts over the fitness of Gerard Moreno and Samuel Chukwueze he could have a starring role here at Estadio de la Ceramica and odds of 7/2 for Danjuma to score at anytime could look big come 9:45ish on Tuesday night!
Sevilla vs Salzburg – Over 2.5, 3.0 Goal Line (1/1 Bet 365)
Sevilla vs Salzburg – Youssef En-Nesyri to score anytime (10/11 Unibet)
Barcelona vs Bayern Munich – Bayern –1 Asian Handicap (13/8 Bet 365)
Barcelona vs Bayern Munich – Alphonso Davies 1+ shot on target (4/1 Ladbrokes)
Dynamo Kiev vs Benfica – Benfica to keep a clean sheet (15/8 Sky Bet)
Dynamo Kiev vs Benfica – Both teams to receive 2+ cards (11/10 Bet 365)
Lille vs Wolfsburg – Wolfsburg to win (17/10 Unibet)
Lille vs Wolfsburg – Wout Weghorst to score at anytime (8/5 Unibet)
Malmo vs Juventus – Alvaro Morata to score at anytime (11/8 Sky Bet)
Malmo vs Juventus – Both teams to receive 2+ cards (2/1 Bet 365)
Villarreal vs Atalanta – Villarreal Draw No Bet (4/5 William Hill)
Villarreal vs Atalanta – Arnaut Danjuma to score anytime (7/2 Sky Bet)