UEFA Champions League Expert Tips 2018/19

Betfair Soccer Experts, Football Form labs are back to give their Champions League Predictions for the 2018/19 tournament. They will preview major games in each stage of the tournament and give their expert tips along the way.

 

Shakhtar Donetsk v Man City

Wednesday October 24th, 6.00am AEDT

No side has taken control of Group F so the head-to-heads over the next few weeks are crucial. Man City have been imperious on the league, hammering Burnley 5-0 most recently with some beautiful football to keep their fifth consecutive clean sheet.

In Europe however, they’ve been critical of switching off at the back. They were sloppy in the opening 45 minutes hosting Lyon and conceded inside the first minute at Hoffenheim. They did enough to prevail in Germany but Hoffenheim are debuting in the competition, whereas Shakhtar are regulars in the group stages and have always been strong at home.

Indeed, City lost here last year, though they’d already qualified for the Last 16. With an overall W4-D1-L4 away record in the Champions League (excluding play-offs) under Pep Guardiola, we wouldn’t rush to back them at the pries.

Shakhtar have played out consecutive 2-2 draws in their opening two matches. While it was a decent result in Lyon, they’ll be disappointed not to have beaten Hoffenheim at home. This is their sixth appearance in the last seven years in the Champions League proper and they hold a very respectable W9-D6-L4 record at home over this period. Furthermore, just one of those defeats was by more than a one goal margin and includes a 3-4 defeat to Real Madrid and 1-0 loss to Juve.

City may have the class to beat the Ukrainians but the hosts are rarely thrashed in front of their own fans.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Shakhtar +1.5 Asian Handicap at 1.9


Man Utd v Juventus

Wednesday October 24th, 6.00am AEDT

It was a much-improved performance by Man Utd at Stamford Bridge, but the late Ross Barkley goal will still be a bitter pill to swallow. They were massive underdogs for that game and while they still go off as outsiders here, there is a greater pressure to perform at Old Trafford. Mourinho picked an attacking line-up to many people’s surprise at Chelsea, but whether he’ll be so cavalier against a top-quality Juventus side remains to be seen.

They’ve flattered to deceive at home this season, with their only victories in all competitions thanks to late strikes over Leicester and Newcastle. In Europe, they only managed a dull 0-0 draw hosting a Valencia side that are 14th in La Liga and last season the only decent side to visit, Sevilla, left with a victory. It’s not as if the Red Devils have improved a whole lot since then, so we fear for them as they welcome one of Europe’s most in-form teams.

The Old Lady have won 10 of 11 unbeaten matches in all competitions this season (including five out of five on the road), and their star signing Ronaldo is starting to get amongst the goals. The former United man will be licking his lips at the thought of taking on a defence that has conceded 18 times already this campaign. Despite their sensational start in Serie A, this season is all about Europe for Juve and they’ve scored five unanswered goals so far, with their 2-0 success in Valencia a real statement after Ronaldo got sent off when it was 0-0.

Massamilio Allegri’s side is well-balanced and has quality all over the pitch and they should simply have too much class for United. They went and did a job on Spurs and Real Madrid (when they still had Ronaldo) last year and they’ve won eight of their last 11 on the road in Europe.

Betting Strategy

BACK – Juventus Win at 2.41


Borussia Dortmund v Atletico Madrid

Thursday October 25th, 6.00am AEDT

Dortmund have started the season on fire as they lead the way in the Bundesliga and in fact, only PSG have scored more from Europe’s Big Five leagues. However, if there is one team on the continent equipped to deal with BVB’s firepower then it would be Atletico.

The hosts have been blowing sides away on a domestic level, but they haven’t have come up against a defence as strong as their opponents. Dortmund comfortably came out on top in their only home match so far against a struggling Monaco but previously they’d won just three of eight Champions League matches since 2016/17 at the Westfalendtsdion.

Atleti claimed the Europa League last season after they surprisingly failed to progress to the Last 16 of the Champions League, but they didn’t lose any of their away games in the group stage. The drew all three last term and since 2015/16 they’re W6-D6-L4 on their travels in Europe’s premier competition, with those four defeats at the hands of the elite – Bayern (twice), Barca and Real.

The other two Group A members Club Brugge and Monaco both look very weak and although they beat both, the Madrid club are yet to hit their straps this season. Simeone’s men are the masters of grinding out a result and indeed they’ve shared the spoils in recent trips to Real and Villarreal.

With these two both on six points, a draw does no major harm to either and looks the most likely outcome.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Draw at 3.28


PSG v Napoli

Thursday October 25th, 6.00am AEDT

Napoli lead Group C ahead of European big guns Liverpool and PSG but having only managed a 0-0 draw in Belgrade on matchday one, they’ll need to be sharper going forward if they are to stand a chance in Paris. Although the Italians kept out Liverpool as well, we can’t see them preventing the PSG juggernaut form scoring.

This is the fourth time Napoli have qualified for the Champions League proper since 2013/14, and their record on the road in this time is W3-D2-L6 as they’ve tended to fall short against better quality sides. They lost at the likes of Arsenal, Dortmund, Real Madrid and Man City, but five of the defeats saw them also strike and they have the tools to get at this PSG backline.

It was yet another demolition job for the Parisians on the weekend as they were able to rest Thiago Silva, Thomas Meunier and Neymar in their 5-0 thrashing of Amiens. Since re-entering this competition in 2012/13, they’ve won 15 of 19 unbeaten home group stage matches, leading at the break in 13 of these victories. Furthermore, since their front three has consisted of Neymar, Cavani and Mbappe, they’ve netted 21 times in four consecutive home victories at this stage.

It’s too demanding for Napoli to deal with this firepower and the PSG win and Over 2.5 Goals looks a cracking price. The bet covers the prospect of the Italians getting on the scoresheet in defeat as well as Thomas Tuchel’s men just blowing their opponents away, whilst it’s also clicked in every single one of PSG’s 12 victories in all competitions this term.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – PSG/Over 2.5 Goals at 1.95

Napoli v Liverpool

Thursday October 4th, 5.00am AEST

Bobby Firmino’s last minute winner against PSG has put Liverpool in a pole position to top Group C. Napoli, meanwhile, stuttered to a 1-1 draw in Belgrade which might not sound pivotal at first but it becomes even more so if, as expected, Liverpool and PSG both pick up six points against the minnows. Neymar and co host Belgrade in the other game in the pool and the French champions are just $1.08 for victory.

Napoli are in the familiar spot of second in Serie A after seven games though they are already six points off Juve following their 3-1 defeat at their arch-rivals over the weekend. They have a 100% home record under Carlo Ancelotti so far netting seven times in three matches though so they’ll be no pushovers. In this competition, they’ve won three of their seven home matches over the past two seasons but what stands out most is that six of the games have had Over 2.5 Goals and five have had Over 3.5.

Liverpool’s five-goal thriller with PSG continued their extraordinary run of exciting games in the Champions League. 13 of their 15 games last season including the final and the two qualifying matches featured at least three goals while nine saw at least four.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Over 3.5 goals at 2.70


Tottenham v Barcelona

Thursday October 4th, 5.00am AEST

Spurs conceded in the 85th and 89th minutes against Inter Milan as three points quickly turned into zero and now they face Barcelona needing to get something from the match. Mauricio Pochettino’s side have fond Champions League memories to look back on for inspiration. Last season they won all three of their Group Stage games at Wembley as they scored three goals against each of Apoel Nicosia, Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid.

This is Barcelona’s first game against Spurs in 36 years and they’ve only ever met twice but the Catalan giants have lots of recent history against other Premier League clubs in this competition. Barcelona have played 10 times in England over the last decade and won on just three occasions while losing four times.

Real Madrid famously completed a hat-trick of Champions League titles under Zinedine Zidane last season but in that spell, their bitter rivals Barcelona have failed to progress past the quarters as they’ve been eliminated in the final eight by Atletico Madrid, Juventus and Roma respectively. In those three campaigns, their away record reads W5-D5-L5 (10 Under 2.5 Goals). Incredibly for a team with such an array of attacking skills, they’ve netted just twice in their last seven.

There’s enough here to suggest that laying Barcelona is a strong proposition given their struggles on the road in this competition in the past and Spurs’ big scalps at the home of football.

Betting Strategy

 LAY – Barcelona at 2.10


Hoffenheim v Man City

Wednesday October 3rd, 2.55am AEST

Man City are still favourites to top Group F despite going down 2-1 at home to Lyon in their first game. The Premier League champions were, perhaps, a little fortunate that Hoffenheim’s opener ended in a stalemate so they are just a point adrift of them and Shakhtar at this early stage.

At $1.40 City are shorter for three points here than any other road side in this round of games – holders Real Madrid are the only other team odds-on away from home in fact. The visitors last away game in Europe was one to forget for the Citizens as they went down 3-0 at Anfield. In the Group Stage they’ve won nine of their 21 away matches over the past seven seasons and just two of six under Pep. The six, though, have been full of excitement as an incredible 25 goals have been scored (F13-A12).

This is Hoffenheim’s debut season in the Champions League. The hosts lost both Champions League qualifying legs to Liverpool last year despite netting in both and they were then dumped out in the group stage of the Europa League. Their 2-2 draw in Ukraine a fortnight ago extended their record of both sides scoring in all nine of their European matches since the start of last season.

Both teams have scored in five of the six matches in which English sides have travelled to German non-Bayern Munich opposition in this tournament over the last three seasons and that seems the safest bet here even if City do look a little on the short side.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Both teams to score at $1.70


Man Utd v Valencia

Wednesday October 3rd, 5.00am AEST

It goes from bad to worse for Man Utd this season. After seven games they’ve gained just 10 points and are already five points off the Champions League spots. At the weekend they were played off the park by a West Ham side that had previously won just once in the league.

United will be happy to be back playing in Europe now where their home form is much better than it is in the league. Since 2012/13, the Red Devils have won 13 of their 15 home European group stage matches including all of their last six.

Valencia are playing in their first Champions League campaign since 2015/16 and they’ll be hoping to do better than most Spanish visitors on English soil. Since 2004/05, Spanish sides have won just one of 21 away Group Stage matches against Premier League opposition – Real Madrid’s 3-0 win at Anfield  in 2014/15 – with the English team wining three of their last five. Valencia have lost four of their last five away European matches against higher-ranked opponents and they went down 2-0 at home to a 10-man Juventus side on Matchday 1.

Despite their poor form domestically, United can prove they are still a force to be reckoned with in Europe and advance to six points in Group H.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Man Utd Win at 1.72

Man City v Lyon

September 20th, 5.00am AEST

Man City have been instilled as favourites for the Champions League and they kick off their campaign by hosting Lyon, who had an impressive season last term, led by exciting duo Fekir and Depay. They’re a young side though with the average age of their squad just 24 and after a slow start in Ligue 1 that has seen them pick up only seven points from their five games, they may find this too tough a test.

They may well fancy their chances of getting on the scoresheet though as City have kept only two clean sheets in their last eight Champions League home games whilst they’ve kept only one in their last four in the league as the likes of Huddersfield, Wolves and Newcastle have all found the net against them. Lyon have featured predominantly in the Europa League in recent years but they have managed to score in 15 of their last 17 European away games and so we’re backing both teams to find the net, with the home win and both teams to score also of interest.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Both teams to score at $1.85


Young Boys v Man Utd

September 20th, 5.00am AEST

Young Boys are featuring in the Champions League for the first time in their history but they’ve served their apprenticeship in the Europa League in recent years and whilst they have a poor away record, they’re a decent side at home. They’ve won 12 of their 17 Europa League home games since 2010/11, with the standout of those against Napoli in 2014/15.

Man Utd have won six of their last 10 European away games though, keeping a clean sheet in six of these matches. Utd lost at Basel last season but teams that we have ranked in Europe’s top 25 have won four of their last seven trips to Switzerland in the Champions League, all at Basel. Young Boys narrowly got past Dinamo Zagreb in qualification for the group stages, with the Croats managing a draw here and Utd are a significant step up on them. After a shaky start, Mourinho’s men have gotten back on track with wins in their last two in their league and they look a generous price to kick their Champions League campaign off with a win.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Man Utd win at $1.77


Inter Milan v Tottenham

September 19th, 5.00am AEST

Hopes were high for Inter this term after a seemingly impressive transfer window but they’ve picked up just four points from four games in Serie A to date, losing at Sassuolo and at home to Parma last time out. It’s not been the best of starts for Spurs either as they’ve lost their last two, against Watford and Liverpool.

Inter haven’t featured in the Champions League since back in 2011/12 and their recent Europa League record is poor as they’ve lost six of their last eight in that competition. However, Spurs have won only five of their last 19 European away games and the majority of these victories came over lesser sides including Apoel Nicosia, Qarabag and Asteras Tripoli, so we’re not particularly keen on siding with them as favourites. There are generally goals when they travel in the Champions League though as both teams have scored in seven of their 12 matches, whilst eight had more than two goals and five saw more than three. Eight of Inter’s last 10 home league games have seen more than two goals and so at odds against, Over 2.5 Goals looks a great bet.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Over 2.5 goals at 2.14


Liverpool v PSG

September 19th, 5.00am AEST

In a bid to go one step further than last term when they lost out to Real Madrid in the final, Liverpool have been busy in the transfer window and made some excellent additions to their squad in bringing in Alisson, Fabinho and Keita. They’ve had a perfect start domestically, winning at Spurs last time out, whilst their home record in the Champions League last term also makes for impressive reading. They won four of six unbeaten games, keeping four clean sheets, while all four of their victories were by more than two goals including against the likes of Man City and Roma.

PSG have also picked up maximum points domestically but that’s not unusual for them in Ligue 1 and it’s this tournament that’ll be the real test of their credentials under Thomas Tuchel. They’ve consistently fallen short when travelling to the top teams in Europe, losing 3-1 at Real and Bayern and 6-1 at Barca in the last couple of seasons. Indeed, they’re just W1-D3-L9 when travelling to teams we have ranked in Europe’s top 10 since 2012/13, so Jurgen Klopp’s men look a fair price here.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Liverpool at $2.34


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