Ajax vs Besiktas | Tuesday 28th September 2021, 17:45 | BT Sport
Ajax have started the new season in blistering form.
Since crushing Sporting 5-1 in Lisbon on Match Day 1, Erik ten Hag’s side have plundered a further 17 unanswered goals in three Eredivisie fixtures to sit three points clear atop their domestic table with a goal difference of +29 after just seven games!
Now the tricky part to get a team onside who are as short as 1/10 to win!
We collected after identifying Sebastien Haller finding the net anytime at a juicy 2/1 for the tie in Portugal when he scored two in the first nine minutes on his way to opening his UCL campaign with a four-goal haul – as a result the bookies have understandably shut that avenue down quoting the Ivorian at 4/6 to add to his tally in this one.
Besiktas were unbeaten this season until their 2-1 loss to Dortmund a fortnight ago and have now been losing at both half time and full time in their last 4 matches in this tournament, with a potentially long injury list to contend with here too I can see nothing but that run extending in the Amsterdam Arena.
Ajax/Ajax in the half-time/full-time market is around 4/7 still far too short to put forward so instead I am taking a chance we see the home side keep their foot on the gas as they have done in each of their last six competitive matches and win both halves – a best priced 11/10 with Betfair.
Steven Berghuis is proving to be a masterstroke of a signing for the Dutch champions following his five seasons at rivals Feyenoord where he contributed 64 goals and 44 assists in his last 121 games.
The 29-Year-Old was the other goalscorer against Sporting but it has been his work in supplying chances that has caught the eye with seven assists in his last seven competitive games for club and country.
Playing just behind Haller, Berghuis should be in the thick of the action once more and in a game his team are expected to dominate and win with ease (they are odds on to score three or more goals) the 7/4 on offer with Unibet is very appealing.
Shakhtar Donetsk vs Inter | Tuesday 28th September 2021, 17:45 | BT Sport
Two teams who knocked hard and loud on their opponent's door to no avail in the opening match day come face to face here in Kiev in a game which is tough to call.
Shakhtar Donetsk fell to a 2-0 loss at FC Sheriff Tiraspol in the Moldovan sides maiden UCL fixture, but it certainly wasn’t for the want of trying after having 68% of the ball, firing in 21 attempts at Georgios Athanasiadis’s goal and forcing 17 corners.
The only blemish on Inter’s season so far was the defeat in to Real Madrid on MD1 when an 89th minute strike from Rodrygo broke the deadlock and took all three points back to Spain – with only the hosts tonight having more than their 18 attempts without getting on the scoresheet.
These two sides met of course in the group stages last season, albeit both under different management, and fought out two 0-0 draws – infact the Nerazzurri have only conceded once in the previous five meetings in European competition.
My temptation was to play Both Teams to Score “no” but I would like to keep 1-1 onside and so have gone for under 2.5,3.0 goal line with Bet 365 at 107/100 – allowing us to get half our stake back if there are exactly three goals.
As already mentioned, Roberto De Zerbi’s side took 17 corners in Moldova and their five UCL games so far this campaign average 12.4 flag kicks per game while Inter have seen 70 corners across their opening seven competitive fixtures giving an average of exactly 10.
Bet 365’s Asian corner line of 9.0 seems a little low to me with both sides capable if needing to really chase the game and the odds of 5/6 is most definitely a backable price.
AC Milan vs Atletico Madrid | Tuesday 28th September 2021, 20:00 | BT Sport
AC Milan will go in to their first UCL home tie in over seven years with plenty of confidence despite tossing away a 2-1 lead to lose 3-2 on MD1 at Anfield after a disastrous start of scoring and own goal and conceding a (missed) penalty.
The Rossoneri bounced back from the Liverpool defeat with a creditable draw at Juventus, followed by victories over Venezia and Spezia to remain undefeated in Serie A, winning their last two games at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza without conceding.
Atletico on the other hand lost their first competitive game of the season at the weekend but in truth that had been coming with the Colchoneros poor of late, winning just two of their last six matches, even then both needed goals in second half injury time.
Even so a 1-0 loss at an Alaves side that had lost their five previous league games this season is by no means ideal preparation for this tie, and Diego Simeone’s side have now drawn a blank in three of their last four competitive matches – started by a failure to break down a Porto defence at the Wanda Metropolitano on MD1.
Siding with any team to try and break down the renowned Atleti defence is never a decision taken lightly so given their current toils, that they also have a big game against Barcelona at the weekend and that Stefano Pioli has his team looking very solid I think the 5/2 on offer from Sky Bet for an AC Milan clean sheet looks a nice price – I would imagine Simeone would take a 0-0 and flight back to Spain if offered to him now!
One table Atletico are topping at this early stage of the season is the La Liga disciplinary one having already collected 28 yellow cards and two reds from their seven league games, also picking up three cautions in the game against Porto.
Only once in eight competitive games this season have the Colchoneros not picked up three or more cards and even then, they still saw two yellows against Elche – counting a yellow card value as one and a red card as two, their totals per game reads: 7, 2, 4, 4, 3, 6, 5, 3.
Referee Cüneyt Çakır has been something of a mixed bag this season with just one yellow shown when he took charge of Sheriff Tiraspol v Dinamo Zagreb in the UCL qualification final but a total of 25 yellows and three reds from his six appointments so far gives the Turkish official an average of 5.17 cards per game.
Unibet offer 23/20 for Atletico to receive three or more cards here and that looks a nice way in to the card market for a game where it would be a surprise if we didn’t see a few.
Borussia Dortmund vs Sporting | Tuesday 28th September 2021, 20:00 | BT Sport
A huge piece of injury news has a massive bearing on the outcome of this game with a lot depending on the availability of Erling Haaland – and Marco Reus.
Both players were missing from Dortmund's clash with Monchengladbach at the weekend, so it was perhaps not a surprise to see their side slip to a first defeat in five and without scoring.
It being also the first competitive game of the season featuring the Schwarzgelben that wasn’t over 2.5 goals and the first since the opening fixture against third tier German side Wehen Wiesbaden in the DFB Pokal, that didn’t see both teams score.
Making their Westfalenstadion home something of a fortress, BVB are unbeaten in nine UCL group games here, keeping a clean sheet in six of them but….have conceded two goals in each of their opening three Bundesliga home games – although still winning all of them by finding the back of the net 12 times, Haaland having a direct involvement in half (4 goals, 2 assists).
Sporting arrive in Germany with an unbeaten record (W5, D2) in their domestic league but will still be smarting from the 5-1 mauling at the hands of Ajax in their own stadium on MD1, they also will need to improve their record against German opposition in the UCL which has seen them lose 11 of 14 contests.
I can’t see past another entertaining home win but even without their own star man Pedro Gonçalves, I can see Rúben Amorim’s side causing the hosts some headaches and getting on the scoresheet – odds for a Dortmund win with both teams scoring is 7/4 with Bet 365 and looks a good way to get the warm favourites with a leaky defence onside.
With a game that looks set to provide goals it seems a good opportunity to delve in the Anytime Goalscorer market – but with a lengthy list of players doubtful I have picked out someone who looks a guaranteed starter.
Jude Bellingham had a fine game in the win over Besiktas, clinically converting Thomas Meunier’s cross to open the scoring on 20 minutes before showing his creative side with a sublime assist for Haaland to add a second – with the Norwegian later going on to label his teenage teammate as “amazing”.
The 18-year-old became the youngest player to score away from home in Champions League history and the youngest player to score in back-to-back Champions League fixtures, a record pinched from that UCL “veteran” Kylian Mbappe!
With the English midfielder playing in a more attacking role for his club the 11/2 on offer from Bet 365 for Bellingham to extend that record to three successive UCL ties looks very appealing.
RB Leipzig vs Club Brugge | Tuesday 28th September 2021, 20:00 | BT Sport
Leipzig fired three goals past Manchester City on MD1 and still managed to end up on the end of a three-goal defeat as they shipped six, however they bagged six themselves at the weekend in a Bundesliga thrashing of Hertha Berlin to warm up for this clash nicely.
One man who is definitely in form is Christopher Nkunku who ended up on the losing side at the Etihad despite the personal glory of claiming a hat-trick, including a brace of headers and also scored twice in the weekend rout of Hertha demonstrating his ability to score goals of all kinds by curling in a superb free-kick from around 30-yards.
The Frenchman has been a shining light after the club’s worst-ever start to a Bundesliga season and seems to be at the centre of all things positive as his partnership with Yussuf Poulsen continues to flourish.
Leipzig’s Red Bull Arena has seen an avalanche of goals to kick off the domestic campaign with a 4-0 win over Stuttgart opening their campaign there followed by a 4-1 reversal at the hands of Bayern Munich meaning their last five competitive home games have all produced over 3.5 goals.
With goals on the menu, we should expect Nkunku to be amongst them and Sky Bet offer the best odds for the 23-year-old to continue his hot form at 21/10.
I was very impressed with Club Brugge as they went toe to toe with PSG in a really entertaining clash on MD1 – and we can expect more of the same here in Germany from Philippe Clement’s side who have lost just the once in all competitions this season.
Lionel Messi making his UCL debut for PSG may have initially caught the attention but the reigning Jupiler Pro League champions were exhilarating to watch and soon focused the attention as their relentless press caused some nervous moments in the Paris backline.
An early Ander Herrera strike could easily have dampened Belgian enthusiasm but the home side, roared on by their vociferous crowd were having none of it and Hans Vanaken brought them back on level terms with a composed finish.
Although Vanaken caught the eye two players went in my notebook for future reference, Noa Lang who was a constant menace and tried his luck no fewer than six times with two strikes forcing Keylor Navas in to action and Charles De Ketelaere.
The 20-year-old, who scored twice in last year's competition, worked tirelessly leading the line against seriously experienced operators and fired in three shots in the first half with two on target.
I can sense him getting more joy here against the Leipzig defence and I was very surprised to see the odds on offer for a confident forward who loves to have a go at goal, the Belgian is a poster campaign for only win the raffle if you buy a ticket!
After nine league appearances, he has scored four league goals from 32 attempts at goal at an average of 3.6 shots per game of which 11 were on target (1.22 per game) which means I am snapping up Betfair’s price of 17/10 De Ketelaere has a shot on target here – braver bettors amongst you may want to take the odds of 10/1 he has two, as he did against Les Parisiens.
Real Madrid vs Sheriff Tiraspol | Tuesday 28th September 2021, 20:00 | BT Sport
It’s not often we use the phrase magic of the cup for the UEFA Champions League with Europe’s elite doing battle – but in this case I think it fits perfectly as the 19-time Moldovan champions bringing their 100% UCL record (albeit from just one game) to the home of the record 13-times champions of Europe.
Carlo Ancelotti’s Spanish giants are unbeaten in competitive action this season, and have already taken a big step towards topping the group, although that honour currently rests with their opponents here, by snatching an 89th minute winner away at Inter on UCL MD1.
Once again as was the case with Ajax in the opening preview our task here is to get Madrid on side despite quotes to win as short as 1/14.
Of course, you would expect Los Blancos to win this comfortably, they have scored 11 goals across their three home games this season and after a 0-0 stalemate with Villarreal on Saturday ended their five-match winning run, we should expect to see them want to make a bit of a statement here.
However, I’m going to swerve any of the Madrid win lines with Sheriff bringing some impressive defensive stats to Estadio Santiago Bernabéu.
Yuriy Vernydub’s side bring a 16-game unbeaten run coming into this match and arrive in Spain off the back of a 7-0 demolition of Dinamo-Auto on Saturday and have kept a clean sheet in seven of their last nine UCL matches, remaining undefeated in all – there is the slightest chance that Madrid may take longer than expected to break their visitors down, after all, Ancelotti’s side failed to register a first half shot on target in that weekend draw.
Sheriff also kept Shakhtar at arm's length on MD1 but in doing so conceded 17 corner kicks.
We can only expect a large amount of possession for the home side, Shakhtar had 75%, with heavy sustained pressure, regardless of an early goal or not – in which case with Madrid’s corner line set at eight – I was expecting double figures – I’ m happy to take that route in to this tie at odds of 11/10 with Sky Bet.
Bet two here is straightforward – Karim Benzema has started the season in great form, having already scored five goals in Real’s last three home games and will fancy his chances here to make some UCL headlines.
The only decision to make is whether to play the French international to score first or to score two or more goals as they are similarly priced – my slight preference is for the latter at 5/2 with Betfair.
Ajax vs Besiktas – Ajax to win both halves (1/1 Betfair)
AJax vs Besiktas – Steven Berghuis to give an assist (7/4 Unibet)
Shakhtar Donetsk vs Inter – Under 2.5,3.0 Asian goal line (107/100 Bet 365)
Shakhtar Donetsk vs Inter – Over 9 Asian corners (5/6 Bet 365)
AC Milan vs Atletico Madrid – AC Milan clean sheet (5/2 Sky Bet)
AC Milan vs Atletico Madrid – Over 2.5 Atletico Madrid cards (23/20 Unibet)
Borussia Dortmund vs Sporting – Borussia Dortmund to win & BTTS (7/4 Bet 365)
Borussia Dortmund vs Sporting – Jude Bellingham to score (11/2 Bet 365)
RB Leipzig vs Club Brugge – Christopher Nkunku to score (21/10 Sky Bet)
RB Leipzig vs Club Brugge – Charles De Ketelaere to have 1+ shot on target (17/10 Betfair)
Real Madrid vs Sheriff Tiraspol – 8+ Real Madrid corners (11/10 Sky Bet)
Real Madrid vs Sheriff Tiraspol – Karim Benzema to score 2 or more goals (5/2 Betfair)