Besiktas v Ajax | Wednesday 24th November 2021, 17:45
Two sides with wildly contrasting fortunes come together in Turkey with their respective fortunes all but already decided.
Besiktas’ UCL campaign has been a disaster, losing all four games so far and are now on a run of seven successive Half-Time/Full-Time defeats conceding at least two goals in all of those – only RB Leipzig with 13 have shipped more goals than the 12 goals they have conceded in the group stage so far.
Not only are Sergen Yalçın’s team struggling in Europe, they currently sit in ninth place in Super Lig, closer to the relegation zone than the 13 points they trail league leaders Trabzonspor, mustering just three wins in their last 13 competitive games losing nine of those and they come in to this clash having lost six of their last eight European home games across both Champions League and Europa League.
Ajax clinched qualification to the knockout stages with an excellent win in Dortmund on MD4 and in doing so joined only Bayern Munich, Liverpool and the now defeated Juventus as the only sides with 100% records – with the Bavarians making it five wins from five last night can the de Godenzonen join them with a win here in Istanbul?
In demand Erik ten Hag has named the same starting line up in all four group games so far but will have to make an enforced one here with Edson Alvarez suspended – he may well choose to rotate some more which is the main reason this game is harder to call than it would be if his side needed the points.
However, even with a player or two rested I think Ajax will have too much for the hosts and also it makes sense to keep the fantastic momentum they have so far gathered – another Half-Time/Full-Time win appeals to me with best odds to be found at Sporting Index of 29/25.
A 5-0 thrashing of Waalwijk kept the current Dutch champions at the top of Eredivisie on goal difference with two goals apiece for long term friends of this column Steven Berghuis and Sebastien Haller, the latter now having nine league goals to go with his seven strikes in this competition – two behind current top marksman Robert Lewandowski after his superb scissor kick in the snow last night.
Haller’s goals have come from just 15 attempts showing his fantastic conversion rate this campaign and taking a chance on team news I am going to have to back the 27-Year-Old to get on the score sheet again just as he did against this opposition on MD2 – he can be backed at 19/20 with Sky Bet.
Inter Milan v Shakhtar Donetsk | Wednesday 24th November 2021, 17:45
Inter have exited the competition at this stage in 2018, 2019 and 2020 but after a sluggish to their 2021/22 campaign they most certainly have their destiny within their own hands as they welcome familiar foes Shakhtar Donetsk to Stadio Giuseppe Meazza.
This will be the fifth time these two sides have faced each other since August last year and Shakhtar are yet to score – although the last three meetings have all ended 0-0.
The tricky thing to work out here is that although Inter are in good form, unbeaten in seven with five wins in that sequence, they have done so with a we will score more than you attitude, having conceded in six of their last seven at home including in both ties against the group surprise package Sheriff Tiraspol.
Can Roberto De Zerbi’s side take advantage of that though?
Well, the Ukrainians have not won in any of their last five UCL fixtures and have failed to score in seven of their last nine games in this competition which makes the Inter win to nil a very tempting play – however that leaky home defence and the fact a draw is of no use to the visitors puts me off it and to another option which keeps a 2-1 scoreline onside.
Using Bet 365’s Bet Builder we can add under four goals to an Inter win to give odds of 13/10 – which looks a solid play given Shakhtar’s poor scoring form – having drawn blanks in three of their four group games to date and the likelihood of a win for the current Italian champions who will come in to this in good heart following a win over current Serie A leaders Napoli at the weekend.
A win for Inter with Real Madrid avoiding defeat to Sheriff Tiraspol will see Simone Inzaghi’s men qualify for the knockout stages and looking to pinpoint who can fire them there I have settled on the experienced head of Edin Dzeko who is having a fine season.
The 35-Year-Old veteran has fired seven league goals from 13 appearances – just 9 of which were starts and also found the net against Sheriff, opening the scoring with a powerful first-time volley into the top left corner to kick start his side’s UCL campaign.
Dzeko saw limited action at the weekend as his fitness was managed following a thigh injury but he should return to the starting line up here and I am taking him to get amongst the goals again at odds of 21/20 with Mansion Bet.
Atletico Madrid v AC Milan | Wednesday 24th November 2021, 20:00
A big clash awaits at the Wanda Metropolitano with both these sides still able to qualify although Milan, sitting on just one point at the foot of the table would need results to go their way elsewhere, but for now all they can do is aim to take care of their own business.
Following back to back defeats to Group B leaders Liverpool, Atletico Madrid will be looking to get back on track here, just a point behind second placed Porto who they will face in what could be a decider on MD6.
Diego Simeone’s side have never lost three successive UCL games but with both sides proving tough to call right now I am leaving the outright market with the home side too short for me at sub 4/5 while it’s tough to back with confidence a side who, going back further, has failed to win any of their last seven attempts in this competition.
Instead, it was one of the goals markets that caught my eye.
The Colchoneros have been grinding out results in La Liga, illustrated perfectly by the late winner over Osasuna at the weekend which kept them in fourth, having only tasted defeat domestically once this season, but with five draws from their 13 games so far, they are four points off their city rivals at the top of the table.
Uncharacteristically Atleti are averaging concession of exactly one goal per game, before the weekend clean sheet conceding at least once in four of their previous six competitive games, as they have done so in each of their last three group games including in the reverse at the San Siro, while the return from suspension of Antoine Griezmann will provide some much welcomed cutting edge in attack, with a mis-firing Luis Suarez having just one goal to his name in his last seven for club and country.
As for AC Milan, their last four games have seen both teams score, including being edged out by Fiorentina in a 4-3 hum dinger at the weekend and indeed nine of their last 11 in all competitions, with three of their four group games seeing the net bulge at both ends.
Given the nature of the tie, the general lack of clean sheets plus internationally renowned goal-scorers on both sides the odds of 87/100 for Both teams to score with Paddy Power seems very appealing.
Having fallen 3-0 behind the evergreen Zlatan Ibrahimovic threatened to instigate an incredible comeback by firing in two goals within the space of five second half minutes, but those goals proved ultimately to be in vain.
As you would expect of a 40-Year-Old, Zlatan’s game time is being managed quite tightly nowadays and he hasn’t started games with such a quick turnaround previously – however with the must win nature of this tie, and his incredible fitness levels we may see the super Swede get another start.
However, it is not the scoring odds I was looking at here but instead the price of 3/1 for an Ibrahimovic card that caught my eye, with the iconic front man already picking up four cautions for club and country this season in 13 appearances, one of which coming in this competition from his two outings.
Club Brugge v RB Leipzig | Wednesday 24th November 2021, 20:00
I’ve really enjoyed watching Club Brugge this campaign, having seen them go toe to toe with PSG, upset the odds in Germany before finding Pep and his boys just a little too hot to handle – but this should be more on their level and another good watch…. well maybe unless you’re a Leipzig fan.
Jesse Marsch has endured a wretched start to life as head coach of Die Roten Bullen and has watched his goal keeper Peter Gulacsi beaten more times (13) than any other in the tournament – both will be absent here however after testing positive for COVID.
Deputy Josep Martinez is likely to be a busy man with this vibrant Club Brugge forward line, led superbly by 20-Year-Old Charles De Ketelaere, ably supported by shoot-on-sight fan Noa Lang.
Leipzig have no win in six UCL clashes and it’s not hard to see why when they have conceded at least two goals in their last eight – a 2-0 weekend loss to Hoffenheim would have done nothing for their confidence coming in to this clash, immediately bringing them back down to Earth with a thud after going in to the international break with a win over Dortmund.
Expect a pumped up and boisterous partisan crowd at the Jan Breydel Stadion, they really know how to get behind their team and with the visitors expected to have a whole host of absentees for one reason or another I am surprised at the outright odds for this one.
Philippe Clement’s side have already defeated Leipzig remember, springing a come from behind 2-1 win on MD2 and were exceptional value for their 2-2 draw here with the all-star cast from Paris who they gave a real fright.
We can actually get Blauw-Zwart onside here with not only the safety net of a refund if the match ends all square but with a half stake win – the +0.0, +0.5 Asian Handicap with Bet 365 is available at even money.
Having mentioned two of the trio of players that have impressed during the first four match days, it is the third that I have to get on side again.
Hans Vanaken really caught my eye with his performance in the aforementioned draw with PSG, although I was originally watching to check out the rave reviews of De Ketelaere.
The 29-year-old had four attempts at goal thast night, with three on target and one hitting the back of the net – it was certainly no flash in the pan, another four shots and another goal followed in the reverse fixture to this in Germany and it was he who netted the consolation against Manchester City with a now familiar burst in to the box and drilled finish.
Betfair odds of 7/2 are far too big for the skipper who has already scored three times in this competition including against his opposition tonight.
Sheriff Tiraspol v Real Madrid | Wednesday 24th November 2021, 20:00
The word on everyone’s lips going in to this David v Goliath clash is “Revenge” for it was of course Moldovan champions, UCL debutants, FC Sheriff that produced not only the shock of MD2, but one of, if not the THE biggest shocks in world football, as they defeated the mighty Real Madrid, record 13 times winners of this competition.
They couldn’t complete the double, on their own patch…. could they!? Well, it’s 14/1 if you fancy that to happen or at the other end of the scale 1/4 for an away win, personally, I won’t be getting involved in either.
Despite Inter restoring the natural order with home and away victories over Yuriy Vernydub and his team, with two wins and two defeats they are still in the hunt going in to MD5 – which in all honesty must be way over and above expectations.
Another shock victory can keep the dream of UCL progression alive and back into their own hands, but if Shakhtar fail to beat Inter in Group D’s other game, Sheriff will at least secure Europa League football in the spring, which must be far more than was expected, but would be fantastic reward for their performances so far, of which they should be truly proud.
Nine consecutive wins domestically shows us they are in fine fettle, as does the fact they have scored in each of their first four UCL group games, after scoring the winner at the Bernabéu and then following it up with another in the San Siro, I put Sébastien Thill forward to score against Inter on home soil last match day – the temptation was there to do so again here at juicy odds of 10/1 – but I am swerving that to focus on a more familiar name, although still in the goalscoring market.
I really do feel Carlo Ancelotti and his players will want to right some wrongs after the embarrassment of defeat in Madrid where after the game the veteran Italian manager proclaimed ““Everything went well for them while everything we did turned out badly.”
The only positive that day would have been another goal from Karim Benzema and it is he I am focusing on for my first selection.
Odds of 13/20 don’t appeal just to find the net and I don’t want to put all my eggs in the first goalscorer basket so instead I will be playing the France international to score two or more goals at odds of 11/4 with Betfair.
This is something he has managed to do five times already from his 21 appearances for club and country this season and he really is in peak form – as illustrated perfectly by his six goals in his last five games, bagging a brace twice
My final selection here centres around corners with Sheriff conceding an average of 13 per game so far in the group stages with a high of 17 here on MD1 with Shakhtar chasing the game after falling behind in the 16th minute.
Los Blancos also hit 13 in the reverse fixture so a total of eight or more should be well within reach and can be backed using Bet 365’s Bet Builder option (over 7 corners) at odds of 5/4.
Sporting v Borussia Dortmund | Wednesday 24th November 2021, 20:00
What a game we have in store at Estádio José Alvalade to end my MD5 previews.
Sporting and Borussia Dortmund are locked together on six points in Group C with both sides aware a win could guarantee their passage to the knockout stages of the competition.
Having defeated Sporting 1-0 already, Marco Rose knows any win will mean qualification out of the group stages while for Rúben Amorim victory by two or more goals would assure his team their place in the next round.
The Lions certainly come in to this crucial clash with the wind in their sails, with their 2-1 Taça de Portugal victory over Varzim six days ago their ninth successive victory in all competitions – the last side to beat them, well yes of course that would be tonight’s opponents Dortmund in the reverse fixture.
BVB at least snapped their two-game losing sequence with a narrow defeat of Stuttgart at the weekend but with key absentees still rife this looks an uphill battle to me.
Sporting are a different animal on home soil and have an incredible run of scoring there, a record that now stretches an impressive 30 consecutive games back to July of last year and has only seen them defeated twice – albeit by group leaders Ajax in this competition by an incredible 5-1 scoreline.
The 29/20 on offer with Betfair looks a great price.
As is always the case with these big high stakes games, it is always worth trying to get cards on side, especially when the referee warmed up for the occasion by showing six cards at the weekend.
Carlos del Cerro Grande is the man with the whistle and although I was tempted to play something a little clever, involving corners the fact that Dortmund won none in the first half in the home tie with Sporting and also failed to do so against Ajax recently I am keeping it simple.
Bet 365 are offering the Asian line at 5 cards with odds of 19/20 for over – as is often the case the lines have constricted since first becoming available but this still looks worthy of a play and of me putting it forward.
Besiktas v Ajax: Ajax HT/FT (29/25 Sporting Index)
Besiktas v Ajax: Sebastien Haller to score (19/20 Sky Bet)
Inter Milan v Shakhtar: Inter to win and under 4 goals (13/10 Bet 365 Bet Builder)
Inter Milan v Shakhtar: Edin Dzeko to score (21/20 Mansion Bet)
Atletico v AC Milan: Both Teams To Score (5/6 Betfair)
Atletico v AC Milan: Zlatan Ibrahimovic to be booked (3/1 Bet 365)
Club Brugges v RB Leipzig: Club Brugges +0.0, +0.5 Asian Handicap (1/1 Bet 365)
Club Brugges v RB Leipzig: Hans Vanaken to score (7/2 Betfair)
Sheriff Tiraspol v Real Madrid: Karim Benzema to score 2 or more goals (11/4 Betfair)
Sheriff Tiraspol v Real Madrid: Over 7 corners in the match for Real Madrid (5/4 Bet 365)
Sporting v Borussia Dortmund: Sporting to win (29/20 Betfair)
Sporting v Borussia Dortmund: Over 5 Asian Total Cards (19/20 Bet 365)