Barcelona vs Dynamo Kiev | Wednesday 20th October 2021, 17:45
Barcelona finally showed some flashes of their old form in a come-from-behind 3-1 victory over Valencia at the weekend and they will hope to continue that here in order to end a wretched run of UEFA Champions League form which has seen them fail to win any of their last five engagements, losing four, scoring only twice and conceding a whopping 14.
A win here is a must for Ronald Koeman’s side who after losing their opening two group games for the first time since 1972 are rooted to the bottom of Group E, but will have been boosted by Fati’s goalscoring return to the starting eleven on Sunday, where he was a menace to the visiting defence for much of the 59 minutes he was on the field.
The 18-year-old now has two goals in 116 minutes of action after the best part of a year out and although the Catalans will not want to rush his comeback it is likely he will start here against a side they beat twice at this stage last season scoring six times in the process.
Although Mircea Lucescu’s side are a point better off than their hosts they are yet to score in this season’s competition and shipped five against a rampant Bayern Munich on MD2, a scoreline Barcelona will surely use as a benchmark with the visitors not only having lost the last four head to heads but also four of their last five UCL away games.
There have been three or more goals in seven of Barça’s last eight games in this competition and I expect that trend to continue here and seeing the aforementioned Fati priced at 2.10 to score, it was no surprise to see top scorer Memphis Depay as short as 4/6 with the same firm.
However, my eyes were drawn to the 1/1 available with Sky Bet which looks a cracking price for a player with 11 goals in 15 appearances for club and country this season, the 27-Year-Old Forward is also on penalties, expertly dispatching one against Los Che, and is a player who isn’t afraid to pull the trigger, illustrated by his position as the player with the fourth highest total of shots in La Liga this season.
Keeping with the player markets a player who has stood out when watching Barcelona and Spain is another teenage sensation in his breakthrough season.
17-year-old Gavi has made eight appearances for his club, four of which have been starts and also featured heavily in both Nations League games for his country against Italy and Belgium during the recent international break.
Although he has been likened to Barça greats Iniesta and Xavi – it is his desire to tackle which I am focusing on here – and more so the frequency he doesn’t quite master that art!
From 348 minutes of La Liga action the 5 ft, 8-inch midfielder has committed nine fouls which works out as one every 38 minutes, picking up three cautions, add to that one card in his one 45-minute appearance for Barcelona B, a yellow from his 31-minute cameo off the bench against Bayern in this competition and that’s five yellow cards in a total of 480 minutes of competitive action – you can see where I am going with this.
Averaging receiving a yellow card every 96 minutes Gavi looks a standout bet at odds of 9/2 with William Hill (he is as short as 15/8 elsewhere) to find his way in to referee Clément Turpin’s notebook here, a referee who handed out five yellow cards and a red when taking charge of Villarreal and Atalanta on MD1.
Salzburg vs Wolfsburg | Wednesday 20th October 2021, 17:45 | BT Sport
With two fully fit squads this game looks full of goals – however with doubts surrounding some key attacking talent for both sides I’m reluctant to take that particular plunge.
Salzburg have made a solid start to their UCL campaign, picking up four points from the opening two games which extends the incredible record Matthias Jaissle has since taking over the reins on July 1st, a record that reads 15 wins from 17 competitive games in charge, 46 goals scored and just 11 conceded.
All that leaves Die Roten Bullen eight points clear at the top of the Austrian Bundesliga after just 11 games and already looking cast iron certainties to make it nine consecutive domestic titles, while they have a two-point cushion at the head of Group G, a win over an out of form Wolfsburg would put them in an extremely strong position to progress.
Die Wölfe are without a win in six, losing their last two road trips and each of their last three games by two goals – as a result I was tempted by the 11/10 on offer for a home win here but with those doubts surrounding the offensive players I am going to focus on something which looks a lot more predictable.
Daniele Orsato is the man in the middle for this one and he is one of the most prolific card issuers in the business.
This season alone the Italian official has taken charge of four Serie A fixtures and has shown an incredible 32 yellow cards 7, 8, 9, 8 – cautioning at least two players from each team in all of those fixtures.
The Vicenza based whistle blower was also on duty in MD2 – being the man in the middle for Barcelona’s trip to Benfica where he dished out eight yellow cards, four each, as well as a red for Eric Garcia.
Using William Hill’s Build#YourOdds putting over 1.5 cards for each team and over 4.5 total cards give pretty nice-looking odds of 10/11.
With so many cards anticipated it makes sense to stay with that market for my second bet and I am going to put John Brooks forward at best odds of 13/5 with the same firm.
The American centre back was sent off for two yellow card offences on MD1 and so we should see him back for the visitors here after serving his suspension by missing the draw with Sevilla and coming face to face with the lively confident Salzburg forwards could well draw another caution.
Benfica vs Bayern | Wednesday 20th October 2021, 20:00 | BT Sport
So here we are again – traditionally the trickiest part of my UCL previews – identifying value winning selections in the Bayern Munich fixture!
Once again despite being away from home against a Benfica side that are unbeaten in their last six fixtures in this competition winning four, the German champions are a best priced 4/9 – so unless you have them in mind for a double it’s time to look elsewhere.
In all honesty you can’t blame the traders for the cautious approach with Julian Nagelsmann’s side emerging victorious in 21 of their last 23 UCL games scoring at least two in 20 of those and although the hosts have kept five clean sheets in their last six Champions League outings it would be a massive surprise if they kept Robert Lewandowski and co at bay here.
The Eagles swept aside Barcelona in MD2 with a Darwin Núñez’s brace sandwiching a strike from Rafa Silva but went in to the international break on the back of their first loss of the season at home to Portimonense, before resuming domestic action with an unconvincing extra-time victory over Portuguese second tier outfit Trofense.
The Bavarians actually mirrored that loss with a shock reversal at home to 28/1 outsiders Eintracht Frankfurt but in contrast to their hosts returned to Bundesliga duty in sensational style with a 5-1 demolition of early title challengers Bayer Leverkusen which included a four-goal blitz in seven first-half minutes.
Simply avoiding defeat here would mean a 20th UCL game on the road unbeaten stretching back to Septmeber 2017, of which Die Roten have won 15, a tournament record, scoring 54 goals along the way, while this season their 11 competitive fixtures have seen them win 10 of which in eight, they led at both half time and full time.
This has also been the case in five of Bayern’s last six UCL clashes and I’m happy to get on board with that run being extended here at odds of 11/10 with Sky Bet, as I think they will just have too much firepower for their hosts.
Talking of firepower, Bayern have four players in the top 10 Bundesliga goalscorers table with no surprise to see the aforementioned Lewandowski leading the way with nine goals, he already has an incredible 15 goals in 11 competitive matches this season and just keeps getting better – the Pole is 40/17 to open the scoring here, 3/5 to find the net at any time and 23/10 for a brace – although William Hill are taking no chances pricing him at 13/20.
Serge Gnabry looks bang back in form with eight goals in his last nine starts for club and country and if you want a safer bet than the one I am about to suggest best odds of 19/10 with Mansion Bet look pretty generous.
However, it is a familiar name to readers of this column who I once again cannot resist to put forward as he looks massively overpriced by Bet 365 at 9/1 to score at any time – Joshua Kimmich.
The 26-Year-Old Midfielder seems to have fewer defensive constraints under Nagelsmann and has scored three goals already from a total of 12 shots in 10 games, six of those being on target, it’s rare for him not to have at least one opportunity to score and at the odds it’s definitely worth taking a chance on Kimmich making the most of it.
Lille vs Sevilla | Wednesday 20th October 2021, 20:00 | BT Sport
This looks a tight clash between two sides potentially missing some key players whilst chasing their first win in Group G.
Ligue 1 champions Lille have made a fairly wretched start to the defence of their title, having lost as many league games as they have won (4) with three defeats in their last six competitive fixtures, including to group leaders Salzburg in MD2.
The silver lining to that is all three of those defeats were away from their Stade Pierre-Mauroy home where they have won three of five games, although the weekend loss to newly promoted Clermont Foot was not the ideal preparation for this crucial tie.
Sevilla have only been defeated once this season, slipping to a 1-0 loss at Granada in the final game prior to the international break, but are finding wins hard to come by on the road, tasting victory just twice and sharing the spoils on three occasions.
Julen Lopetegui has guided his side to third in La Liga, building rock solid foundations around a miserly defence which has conceded just three goals in eight league games, the best record in the division and will be a stern test for the home side here.
Los Nervionenses will look to extend their unbeaten away record in European competition to nine here and will fancy their chances of doing so against a side that have lost eight of their last 10 UCL fixtures.
In a tough game to call a draw wouldn’t surprise me but with that in mind, coupled with Lille’s strong home record I’m going to side with them using the +0.25 Asian Handicap – meaning if it is a draw we will still pick up half a win, but with a nice return at a shade of odds on (22/25 with Bet 365) should the home side sneak the win.
This is another tie which should see a few cards produced, as indicated by the unpalatable odds of 1/2 for both teams to see two or more each and the match line set around 5.5.
Personally, I usually like a minimum benchmark of at least a four cards per game average for a referee in any bookings-based bets, but EPL official Michael Oliver falls just short of that this season at around 3.5.
The 36-year-old from Ashington did warm up for this game with a five-card-trick at Villa Park on Saturday but only produced three yellow cards when taking charge of Bayern’s visit to Barcelona in MD1.
The expectation is there will still be a few cards shown here – Oliver certainly has it in him on a going day, but to take the risk out I’m once again returning to the player to be carded market.
Thomas Delaney was a notable signing late into the transfer window from Borussia Dortmund and has made just two starts for his new club but is expected to deputise for calf injury victim Joan Jordan in the Sevilla’s engine room here.
The 30-Year-Old Midfielder has already picked up one red card this season, after receiving two yellow cards in quick succession, first for a foul and then for dissent in the 2-0 defeat of Espanyol, also collecting a caution in his only UCL appearance in MD1 when coming off the bench at half time.
Delaney is 9/4 for another caution here with William Hill, in what should be a keenly fought midfield battle, I certainly make his chances of picking up a card greater than the odds suggest.
Young Boys vs Villarreal | Wednesday 20th October 2021, 20:00 | BT Sport
The Swiss champions suffered only their second defeat of the season in MD2 with a defeat to Atalanta in a game where they were maybe slightly fortunate to only lose 1-0.
David Wagner will have to make do without the services of up to six of his first team squad but still has enough threat at his disposal to make life very uncomfortable for the visitors who haven’t tasted victory in European competition inside 90 minutes for five games.
Villarreal are draw specialists, having only two wins to their name this season in all competitions but only two defeats with both of those coming in the last three games, they are also yet to win on the road somehow throwing away not just two points but all three in MD2 as a result of a 95th minute Cristiano Ronaldo strike.
Young Boys will take confidence from the fact they recorded a late win of their own in MD1 as Theoson Siebatcheu pounced on a Jesse Lingard error to give his side only their second ever win against English opposition.
The Wankdorf Stadium is something of a fortress with a current unbeaten run there stretching to eight games, six of which were victories and including qualifiers have now won four successive UCL home ties scoring 11 times and at least twice in all of them.
With 10 of Young Boys last 13 games seeing both teams score I was tempted to add over 2.5 goals to the bet at odds of 20/21 but instead I am keen to explore a possible coming together of a strength in one team combined with a weakness in the other.
As already mentioned, Unai Emery’s side conceded in the 95th minute at Old Trafford and that was the second time this season, having also allowed Atletico Madrid to score in the same minute to snatch a draw back in August.
Atalanta also scored in the 83rd minute in MD1 while Osasuna grabbed an 87th minute winner against the Yellow Submarine at the weekend, while Young Boys have scored four injury time goals this season and a total of nine goals past the 75th minute in 19 fixtures.
So, with William Hill’s odds of 9/4 I think it is worth a shot at the home side scoring again after the 75th minute.
I have already mentioned Theoson Siebatcheu who I am sure will be a threat but for my second selection I am going to put forward Nicolas Moumi Ngamaleu to score at any time.
The Cameroon international is in good form scoring in four of his last 10 competitive fixtures, finding the net in both of his last two appearances for his club and at 4/1 with Betfair he is close to double the odds of Siebatcheu.
Zenit vs Juventus | Wednesday 20th October 2021, 20:00 | BT Sport
After starting the Russian Premier League season with an undefeated run of nine games – winning seven, Zenit have now lost back-to-back games 2-1, not the ideal preparation for the visit of a Juventus side who really seemed to have clicked in to gear.
Sergei Semak’s side will look to take inspiration from their last victory – the 4-0 hammering of Malmö which ended a sequence of eight UCL group stage games without a win, losing seven of them.
They will need to as the Old Lady roll in to town off the back of five successive wins, the last three by the same 1-0 scoreline, probably no surprise with the poster boy for no nonsense Italian defending, Giorgio Chiellini back in the side and expected to keep his place here.
After a sluggish start it appears Max Allegri has found his old Juventus magic book and will look to repeat his trick of the 2018/19 campaign when his side opened the group stages with three straight wins.
I expected I would have to be creative to get the Italians onside here as they bid to make it eight UCL wins from their last nine games in the tournament, a run which includes victories over Barcelona, Porto and in this campaign Chelsea, but no, a straight win is at 21/17 with SBK and allows me to keep it simple.
One of my favourite current players is set to feature at Gazprom Arena, Saint Petersburg and despite an unusually subdued showing in the weekend win over Roma, I expect Federico Chiesa to come out firing for this one.
The 23-Year-Old Italy international was the match winner against Chelsea, making no mistake in finishing off a route one style goal by firing his effort past Mendy, Chiesa has scored a total of three goals so far this season with his two strikes for his club coming from 11 shots with five on target.
With Alvaro Morata likely to be back in the side, Chiesa will drop to a role less advanced than the one he filled at the weekend, which I think will suit him much better, with his energy, bursts in to the box and his willingness to have a strike from range already becoming his trademark.
I’m taking the odds of 23/10 with Sky he gets his name on the scoresheet in successive UCL fixtures.
Barcelona vs Dynamo Kiev: Memphis Depay to score (1/1 Sky Bet)
Barcelona vs Dynamo: Gavi to be shown a card (9/2 William Hill)
Salzburg vs Wolfsburg: Over 1.5 cards for each team and over 4.5 total cards (10/11 William Hill)
Salzburg vs Wolfsburg: John Brooks to be carded (13/5 William Hill)
Benfica vs Bayern Munich: Bayern Half-Time/Full-Time (11/10 Sky Bet)
Benfica vs Bayern Munich: Joshua Kimmich to score (9/1 Bet 365)
Lille vs Sevilla: Lille 0.0, +0.5 Asian Handicap (22/25 Bet 365)
Lille vs Sevilla: Thomas Delaney to be carded (9/4 William Hill)
Young Boys vs Villarreal: Young Boys Goal – 76th Minute To Full Time. (9/4 William Hill)
Young Boys vs Villarreal: Nicolas Ngamaleu to score (4/1 Betfair)
Zenit vs Juventus: Juventus to win (21/17 SBK)
Zenit vs Juventus: Federico Chiesa to score (23/10 Sky Bet)