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.


Spurs v Liverpool

Sunday 2 June, 5:00am

A second all-English final in quick succession should produce another entertaining encounter if recent meetings between Premier League sides in Europe are anything to go by. Chelsea’s 4-1 win over Arsenal in the Europa League means that four of the five such fixtures since the start of last season have seen at least three goals, including the mad 4-3 bonanza in the second leg between City and Spurs in the semis, with the latest result in Baku bringing up the average goals per game (gpg) to 3.6.

This seasons’ Premier League was the highest-scoring on record and in fact, each of the five highest-scoring campaigns have all come since 2010/11 as this has been a growing trend. However, it’s not just the English top-flight that’s been affected by this movement, with the Champions League also witnessing a greater output in the final third during recent years. Since the tournament was established in 1992/93, six of the seven seasons (including the current one) that have seen the highest average gpg have been since 2012/13, with this campaign and the two previous editions all in the top four of these.

Finals in cup competitions have a reputation for being low-scoring as neither side wants to concede a damaging early goal, but this hasn’t been the case in Europe on the whole. Indeed, following Chelsea’s second-half humiliation of the Gunners, six of the past eight Europa League finals have seen at least three strikes, while 12 of the past 14 Champions League finals have seen both teams register on the board – including all three involving Liverpool over this period.

There’s further reason to expect an all-action final as recent head-to-head meetings between Spurs and Liverpool have yielded some exhilarating clashes, which is perhaps unsurprising when considering both Mauricio Pochettino and Jurgen Klopp are adherents of the high press to force their opponents into mistakes. Klopp’s first game in charge of Liverpool was actually a goalless stalemate with Spurs, though he’d only just been handed the reins at that point and seven of the subsequent eight fixtures have seen both teams get onto the scoresheet. Indeed, the four meetings since the start of last season have witnessed 15 goals in total (3.75 gpg), and with both Roberto Firmino and Harry Kane having seemingly recovered from fitness concerns in time, there’s even greater reason to suggest this could be a blockbuster event.

Klopp has an excellent record facing ‘Big Six’ sides and across all competitions he’s W19-D19-L7 in such encounters over 90 minutes since pitching up on Merseyside. Just limited to cup matches this record is a similarly healthy W4-D2-L1, and though the German hasn’t enjoyed much success in cup finals throughout his career, his team have often been the underdogs and that won’t be the case here.

By contrast, Pochettino is just W13-D5-L20 against the rest of the ‘Big Six’, losing six of the past eight, and has lost seven out of 10 in cup competitions alone. Klopp certainly holds the upper hand in direct head-to-head meetings (W4-D4-L1) with his side netting exactly twice in five of the past six encounters, as each of the four wins came in these most recent fixtures as his team have gone from strength to strength. Given Liverpool ended the season with a run of 13 wins from 14 matches, while Spurs lost five of their last eight, the price for a third 2-1 victory for Liverpool over Spurs this season appears a big price – especially as each of Spurs’ last seven defeats have all been by just the solitary strike.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – BTTS (Yes) at 1.78

 BACK – Liverpool 2-1 correct score at 9.8

h3>Ajax v Spurs

Thursday 9th May, 5:00am

Prior to the group stages, and even prior to the knockout phases, these two would have been seen as surprise semi-finalists, but in fairness they’ve both earnt their right to be here. Spurs progressed from a tricky group with Barcelona, Inter Milan and PSV before cruising past Dortmund and then stunning outright favourites Man City in the last round. Ajax, meanwhile, eliminated European heavyweights Real Madrid and Juventus in their last two rounds, all while playing some scintillating, free-flowing football.

Spurs have now lost seven of their last 13 in all competitions and their stuttering form is a worry. They also had to play on the weekend, where they lost for the first time at their new stadium, whereas Ajax have been aided by the Dutch authorities giving them the weekend off and allowing seven days to prepare for this encounter. However, despite their heroics so far, Erik ten Hag’s men look a little short traveling to a top-class Premier League side away in the first leg of a Champions League knockout tie. Indeed, Ajax played without fear when triumphing at the Bernabeu and the J Stadium, but the situation allowed them to after failing to win either of their first legs at home. It’s a completely different set of circumstances going away in the first leg, where the primary objective is to still be in the tie for the return leg at home.

This is especially the case as Spurs have experience of being at home in the first leg after they beat both Dortmund and Man City without conceding in front of their fans in the last two rounds. In the group stages, the Londoners went off very short favourites hosting PSV, who are on equal points at the top of Eredivisie with Ajax, so the jump to their current price seems a bit extreme. Furthermore, the last Dutch side to win on these shores in this competition was Feyenoord at Newcastle back in 2002, and since 2006/07, they’ve lost eight of 11 unbeaten trips (including qualifiers). Although the value looks to be with the hosts, Mauricio Pochettino is without his two top marksmen, Son Heung-min and Harry Kane, so we’re happy to avoid the match outcome market.

Without either of those two, and Ajax’s obvious quality going forward, we expect Poch to be pragmatic in his approach. They’ve conceded just once in their opening five games at their new home, as four of these have had fewer than three strikes. While Ajax’s attack looked extremely potent in the last two rounds, there was an element of fortune as they visited both Real and Juve when they were missing their most influential defenders– Sergio Ramos and Giorgio Chiellini respectively – and while Spurs are without their best attackers, they have a full complement at the back. What’s more, a semi-final first leg in the Champions League is a massive occasion and going back to 2004/05, 18 of 28 such encounters have had no more than two goals, with 13 seeing no more than one. With this the biggest game for both clubs in many a year, it’s completely understandable if it’s cagey to begin with.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Ajax Win $2.20

Liverpool v Barcelona

Wednesday 8th May, 5:00am

Barcelona are just $1.06 to reach the Champions League Final after their 3-0 win at the Nou Camp. If anything that result flattered the Spaniards though nothing should be taken away from one of the all-time great performances from Lionel Messi.

Combing back through the record books we’ve found 27 matches in the knockout stage of this competition or the Europa League where the home team have lost the away first leg 3-0. Despite being on the receiving end of a thumping and with little chance of progressing in the tournament, 13 home teams have won the second leg giving some support to the short-looking price on a Liverpool victory. Two of the 27 sides qualified for the next round despite the heavy first leg defeat so there is some, if not much, hope for Reds fans.

Second legs tend to be much higher scoring than first legs and that pattern has been most evident this season. All four Quarter-Final second legs had Over 2.5 Goals as did seven of the eight Last 16 second legs. Furthermore, 13 of the 18 Champions League semi-final second legs this decade have had Over 2.5 Goals including the last four.

Liverpool are the only side to have reached the semis in this tournament both this season and last which means we have a lot of recent European matches to compare to. 19 of their 26 Champions League matches over both campaigns have had Over 2.5 Goals and 13 have had Over 3.5 Goals. Nine of Barcelona’s last 15 Champions League matches have had Over 2.5 Goals.

With the attacking talent on show, Liverpool’s requirement for goals and the spike in strikes in the second legs of knockout ties we should get some excitement here.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Over 2.5 Goals $1.65

 BACK – Over 3.5 Goals $2.20

Barcelona vs Liverpool

Thursday 2nd May, 5:00am

This is the heavyweight semi-final and in many peoples’ eyes, the winner of this tie will go on to lift the trophy. Barcelona have yet to be truly tested as they made light work of Group B and proved too strong for Lyon and Man Utd in their home second legs in the last two rounds. They wrapped up the La Liga title on the weekend with minimal fuss and with Real Madrid faltering this season and Atletico not reaching their usual heights, this certainly represents Barcelona’s toughest test of the campaign. Liverpool just about scraped through a difficult group with PSG and Napoli but since then they’ve been far more dominant with convincing knockout successes over Bayern and Porto. Unlike the Spaniards, they’ve been involved in the highest quality title race the Premier League has ever seen, prevailing each week with a huge amount of pressure on their shoulders. There is no danger of Jurgen Klopp’s men being undercooked and that certainly favours them over the two legs.

However, the German will know that his side doesn’t have to win the first leg to still have a great chance of making it to the final. Indeed, Bayern were the last side to triumph here in Europe, all the way back in 2012/13. Barca have won 28 of 31 unbeaten matches since then, including 11 of 13 knockout games and six of seven versus Premier League outfits, with the exception to Spurs in the group stages this year, once they’d already topped the group. They’ve had some famous European nights at the Camp Nou, but the draw, in terms of venue of each leg, has often been kind to the Catalonians. Since 2010/11, they’ve partaken in 22 Champions League knockout ties and they’ve been home first on just five occasions. They won four of five such unbeaten encounters, but they only qualified twice, and one of those was after a 5-1 thrashing of Shakhtar Donetsk in the first leg. They famously threw away a 4-1 advantage against Roma last year, while Atletico Madrid were able to turn around a 2-1 deficit in 2014/15, so the Reds main aim will be to remain in the tie.

What’s more, Barca have Lionel Messi, who has only been seen off the bench in their last two as they prepare for this. If there is anyone who could deal with the little magician, then it’s the mighty Virgil Van Dijk, but it’s impossible to see the Argentine not having an influence on the game at some point and indeed, he has now scored 14 goals in his nine starts versus English sides since 2016/17. The genius of Messi has however masked some of the problems facing Barcelona, and Liverpool certainly have the tools to exploit these. Their backline isn’t as assured or as quick as it has been in the past and the returning Firmino and in-form duo of Mo Salah and Sadio Mane will be very dangerous on the counter-attack. It would be no surprise to see them register at some point, as they’ve done in all five of their away knockout matches under Klopp, but the hosts are certainly the most likely winners over the first 90 minutes.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Barcelona Win at 1.87

Spurs v Ajax

Wednesday 1st May, 5:00am

Prior to the group stages, and even prior to the knockout phases, these two would have been seen as surprise semi-finalists, but in fairness they’ve both earnt their right to be here. Spurs progressed from a tricky group with Barcelona, Inter Milan and PSV before cruising past Dortmund and then stunning outright favourites Man City in the last round. Ajax, meanwhile, eliminated European heavyweights Real Madrid and Juventus in their last two rounds, all while playing some scintillating, free-flowing football.

Spurs have now lost seven of their last 13 in all competitions and their stuttering form is a worry. They also had to play on the weekend, where they lost for the first time at their new stadium, whereas Ajax have been aided by the Dutch authorities giving them the weekend off and allowing seven days to prepare for this encounter. However, despite their heroics so far, Erik ten Hag’s men look a little short traveling to a top-class Premier League side away in the first leg of a Champions League knockout tie. Indeed, Ajax played without fear when triumphing at the Bernabeu and the J Stadium, but the situation allowed them to after failing to win either of their first legs at home. It’s a completely different set of circumstances going away in the first leg, where the primary objective is to still be in the tie for the return leg at home.

This is especially the case as Spurs have experience of being at home in the first leg after they beat both Dortmund and Man City without conceding in front of their fans in the last two rounds. In the group stages, the Londoners went off very short favourites hosting PSV, who are on equal points at the top of Eredivisie with Ajax, so the jump to their current price seems a bit extreme. Furthermore, the last Dutch side to win on these shores in this competition was Feyenoord at Newcastle back in 2002, and since 2006/07, they’ve lost eight of 11 unbeaten trips (including qualifiers). Although the value looks to be with the hosts, Mauricio Pochettino is without his two top marksmen, Son Heung-min and Harry Kane, so we’re happy to avoid the match outcome market.

Without either of those two, and Ajax’s obvious quality going forward, we expect Poch to be pragmatic in his approach. They’ve conceded just once in their opening five games at their new home, as four of these have had fewer than three strikes. While Ajax’s attack looked extremely potent in the last two rounds, there was an element of fortune as they visited both Real and Juve when they were missing their most influential defenders– Sergio Ramos and Giorgio Chiellini respectively – and while Spurs are without their best attackers, they have a full complement at the back. What’s more, a semi-final first leg in the Champions League is a massive occasion and going back to 2004/05, 18 of 28 such encounters have had no more than two goals, with 13 seeing no more than one. With this the biggest game for both clubs in many a year, it’s completely understandable if it’s cagey to begin with.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Under 2.5 Goals at 1.95

Man City v Spurs

Thursday 18 April, 5:00am

After Spurs’ historic 1-0 win in the yet to be sold for sponsorship rights Tottenham Hotspur Stadium last week this is the most-poised of the quarter-finals. Despite the first leg deficit, Man City are still heavy-favourites to reach the semi-finals ($1.66). This is the first of a hat-trick of games that will define the Citizens’ season and perhaps Pep Guardiola’s place in the pantheon of great managers as he targets an unprecedented quadruple. After this game, City again host Spurs in the league in the early kick-off on Saturday before they travel to Old Trafford next Wednesday. Only three wins will do if they are to achieve their lofty goal but if anyone can do it, this City side can. Interestingly, they are just $2.84 to win all three games at the current prices.

Man City have won 16 of their 17 home Premier League matches this season with 13 wins by two clear goals including beating all of the other Big 6 teams (3-1 v Man Utd, 2-1 v Liverpool, 3-1 v Arsenal and 6-0 v Chelsea). In the domestic other domestic competitions they’ve already won the League Cup after beating Chelsea in the final and they face Watford in the final of the FA Cup next month.

Spurs will be definitely be without Harry Kane here after the striker suffered an ankle ligament injury in the first leg that could rule him out for the remainder of the season and the North London club could also be missing fellow England star Dele Alli after he fractured his hand in the same game. The visitors can take comfort from the fact that a repeat of any of their eight previous away matches against teams from the Big 5 leagues over the past three seasons in this tournament would see them progress to the semis: W2-D4-L2 with a brace of 2-1 defeats.

The absence of Kane and possibly Alli swings this tie more in City’s favour but their past results against the best English clubs, including their results this season, suggest they are a little skinny here to progress after the 1-0 defeat in the first leg. Under Pep, they would have qualified in 90 minutes in just six of their 14 games hosting the Big Six.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Spurs to qualify at 2.48

Porto v Liverpool

Thursday 18 April, 5:00am

The double for Liverpool and Barcelona to setup a mouthwatering semi-final clash pays just $1.16 at the current prices as the Reds are the shortest of all eight teams to progress after a comprehensive 2-0 win at Anfield in the first leg. Jurgen Klopp’s side went through a blip in a six-week spell from the end of January when they drew five of seven matches in all competitions but they appear through the worst led by a reinvigorated Mo Salah. Since their goalless derby draw at Goodison, Liverpool have won seven on the bounce including wins over Bayern Munich, Spurs, Chelsea and, of course, Porto with five of the games featuring at least three goals.

Porto made it five from five in the league at the weekend to draw level with Benfica on 72 points after 29 games played in the Super Liga. The Portuguese champions beat Roma in extra-time in the Last 16 after cruising through one of the easier groups. Their defeat at Anfield was the only time they’ve failed to net in their nine Champions League games so far this term though it was by far their hardest test yet.

Porto have had Over 2.5 Goals in seven of their last eight home Champions League matches including the 5-0 drubbing that Liverpool gave them in the Last 16 last season. The hosts have avoided defeat in three of their last six home Champions League matches against top-10 ranked sides but five of the matches have had Over 2.5 Goals. A Liverpool victory is slightly longer than Over 2.5 Goals but it’s the latter we prefer.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Over 2.5 goals at 1.97

Barcelona v Man Utd

Wednesday 17 April, 5:00am

Barcelona rotated their whole team for their La Liga fixture on Saturday and proved that maybe they don’t have the depth of pre-tournament favourites Man City as the second-string laboured to a goalless draw at bottom of the table Huesca. The A-team will all return here though Ousmane Dembele will likely start from the bench. All the Catalans require to advance is to avoid defeat and past history shows they should have no troubles on that front. Barca have lost just once at home in the league this season and in Europe they and they are currently on an unbeaten streak of 30 home Champions League matches stretching back six seasons.

Man Utd were lucky to get a point from their game hosting West Ham on Saturday but somehow they managed all three as Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s side once again snatched an unlikely victory. The Norwegian has won 16 of his 23 matches in charge of the Red Devils including away wins at Spurs, Arsenal, Chelsea and PSG. He was given the full-time role after that famous win in the French capital but since then United have looked like they did under Jose Mourinho.

In the five years since Barcelona last lifted the Champions League, they’ve gone W9-D1-L0 in their 10 home knockout matches and seven of the victories were by two clear goals. Juventus, who they beat in that final in Berlin, are the only team to have got a point at the Camp Nou.

Man Utd are very fortunate to have gone this deep in the tournament but the fairytale surely ends in Spain. This season they’ve already lost four of their nine Champions League matches including three of their last four. The euphoria around Solskjaer has masked how lucky they’ve been. With Barca’s emphatic record and United’s struggles a comfy home win is our play.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Barcelona -1.5 at 2.08

 Juventus v Ajax

Wednesday 17 April, 5:00am

Ajax were very unlucky not to beat Juventus in the first leg as they particularly dominated the second half after drawing level just after the break. The away goal, though, puts the ball firmly in Juve’s court as Cristiano Ronaldo goes in search of a fourth consecutive and sixth overall Champions League victory. The Portuguese star has scored all four of Juventus’ goals in the knockout stage including a memorable hat-trick against Atletico in the Last 16 and he comes into this game fresh after being rested for the Serie A leaders’ shock defeat against SPAL at the weekend. Incredibly, Ronaldo has scored more than twice as many career Champions League knockout stage goals (64) than Ajax have as a club (31). His dominance in the biggest games is best shown by his record of having netted 41 times in the quarter-finals onwards in this competition. His nemesis Lionel Messi is second in the all-time list but, by comparison, has scored ‘just’ 16 goals in quarters, semis, or finals.

Ajax knocked out Ronaldo’s former team Real Madrid in the Last 16 with a stunning 4-1 win at the Santiago Bernabeu in the second leg after losing 2-1 at home in the first. That game was somewhat of a freak, however, as before that their away record in Europe travelling to teams from the Big 5 leagues read W0-D5-L7 since 2012/13.

Juventus have reached the knockout phase in each of the last five seasons including losing in the final to Spanish opposition in both 2014/15 and 2016/17, so we have a lot of recent history to compare to. All 10 of their home knockout matches in the sample were against sides from the Big 5 leagues and all of those opponents were ranked higher than Ajax currently are. The Old Lady have won seven of the 10 with their only defeat a 3-0 loss to Real Madrid in 2017/18 when Ronaldo scored a brace.

We are a little wary of how dominant Ajax were in the first leg so our preferred option here is Ronaldo to score rather than back Juve to win, though the stats support both.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Ronaldo to Score at 1.90

Man Utd v Barcelona

Thursday 11 April, 5:00am

United have encountered their first real sticky patch under new management with three defeats from their past four outings, while it’s seven games without a clean sheet now as all but one of these saw at least three goals in total.

That will be a concern with Lionel Messi coming to town, though the Catalan giants provide the Red Devils with hope by virtue of their own defensive frailties. Indeed, Barcelona had to come from behind to salvage a 4-4 draw with Villarreal in their last road trip, while Samuel Umtiti hasn’t looked at his best since returning from injury and will likely find himself behind Clement Lenglet in the pecking order.

Both teams have found the net in 13 of Barcelona’s 19 matches with English sides since 2009/10, as 13 of these also witnessed a minimum of three goals as nine saw four or more. When away in England, five of their nine games over this period saw at least three strikes and we’d be surprised if this encounter deviated from the pattern.

Indeed, aside from the threat posed by their experienced pairing of Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi, 21-year-old Ousmane Dembele – who was really shining at the expense of Coutinho prior to injury – should be back amongst the substitutes and can make an impact from the bench if required.

Barcelona’s last six matches have seen 27 goals overall, an average of 4.5 per game, and though the majority of those efforts were theirs, United certainly possess the tools to contribute to a thrilling affair.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men have only failed to find the net in three of their 21 games under the Norwegian, and with Barcelona keeping just two clean sheets in 12 trips to England since 2007/08, we’d expect the hosts – who can play with some freedom with all the expectations on the visitors – to score at least one of their own.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Over 2.5 Goals at 1.76

Ajax v Juventus

Thursday 11 April, 5:00am

Juventus survived a scare against Diego Simone’s Atletico Madrid in the last round, as they came back from a 2-0 defeat in the first leg to qualify through a Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick. The Italian side have won seven of their last eight outings in all competitions, beating the likes of Napoli and Milan and with the Champions League their main goal this term, they’re unlikely to be dominated like they were at the Wanda Metropolitano.

In fact, they beat the latter Italian outfit without Ronaldo, who looks almost a certainty to start here having recovered well from the injury that he sustained during the international break.

The Dutch side have been in sensational form of their own as they sit at the head of the Eredivisie on goal difference, while they’ve won nine of their last 10 outings in all tournaments since mid-February.

That run includes victories over rivals PSV 3-1 here at the Johan Cruijff Arena, as well as thumping Real Madrid in the second leg 4-1 to make it into the quarter-finals, as they’ve netted an average of 3.5 goals per game in this time. In fact, they’ve scored 13 more than anyone else in the Eredivisie with their century of goals, while they’re yet to fire a blank in front of their home fans from their 22 outings both domestically and in Europe, averaging 3.5 gpg.

Not to mention, they’ve only once failed to find the net from 14 matches across all venues in the Champions league since the start of the season when including the play-offs, coming at Dynamo Kiev in a 0-0 result following a 3-1 victory in the opening leg.

Massimiliano Allegri’s men have kept just three clean sheets from their nine trips in Europe since the start of last season. Indeed, they came against a weak Olympiakos side, a low-scoring Valencia outfit and Jose Mourinho’s Man Utd, and this encounter is unlikely to show any resemblance to those good defensive displays with the attacking talent at the disposal to Erik ten Hag.

In fact, the best bet in this fixture looks to be in backing both teams to score as each side tops their domestic goalscoring charts respectively. Meanwhile, when travelling to the Netherlands, Italian sides have seen both sides register in 13 of 15 visits since 2008/09, including all six in this competition

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Both Teams to Score at 1.73

Spurs v Man City

Wednesday 10 April, 5:00am

Mauricio Pochettino’s men were slightly fortunate to have advanced past the group stages ahead of Inter Milan on head-to-head away goals, but they’ve certainly made the most of their opportunity. Indeed, they eased past Borussia Dortmund 4-0 over the two legs in the last 16, but they’ve been rewarded with a tie against the tournament favourites. Pep Guardiola’s men have won 20 of their 22 matches in all competitions in 2019 to date, while they also won four of their six group matches in this tournament as their only defeat came against Lyon who stunned them on matchday one.

Interestingly, City have won each of their 12 fixtures at the Etihad in this time, with nine of them by at least two clear strikes, but at neutral or away venues, they’ve only won by two clear goals in four of their 10 such matches. Indeed, they drew after 90 minutes in their one and only encounter versus a ‘Big Six’ side (Chelsea) during the League Cup final, they lost at Newcastle, while their four convincing victories came against an Everton side in the midst of three straight defeats, League Two outfit Newport County and relegated duo Huddersfield and Fulham.

That shouldn’t strike fear into this Spurs side, who are on a high having moved into their new stadium. Indeed, they made Palace look mediocre in their 2-0 win and in doing so leapfrogged their arch-rivals Arsenal too, which will certainly please the fans and provide an extra confidence boost. That makes them W12-D1-L2 from their 15 matches in home fixtures since November and you feel it’s going to take an even greater effort to turn them over in their new surroundings.

Since Guardiola pitched up in Manchester, they’ve won 17 of their 34 matches against their fellow ‘Big Six’ sides in all competitions. However, if we exclude their games at the Etihad, then this record starts to look a much worse W8-D4-L7 from their 19 trips. Against similar opposition, Spurs have only lost five of their 16 designated home matches in all tournaments over the same period, winning nine of them. That record certainly looks good enough to take on the favourites, especially with the possibility the Citizens might have to play without their top scorer Sergio Aguero, who only returned to training for the first time on Sunday.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Spurs +0.75 Asian Handicap at 1.82

Liverpool v Porto

Wednesday 10 April, 5:00am

These two sides faced one another last season in the last 16 of this competition, with Jurgen Klopp’s men blowing Porto away in the opening fixture 5-0 at the Estadio do Dragao. Indeed, the Portuguese side settled for a goalless stalemate in the return fixture, but the damage had already been done by that point and the Reds sailed into the next round.

Liverpool look even stronger this year as they find themselves at the top of the Premier League, while they’ve won each of their last five matches in all competitions now, including a very impressive 3-1 victory over Bayern who have since come out to prove their ability when smashing German rivals Dortmund 5-0. In fact, the hosts have won 17 of 20 unbeaten matches at Anfield in both the Champions League and Premier League this term, winning 11 of them by at least two clear goals and eight by at least three, as only Man City, Leicester and Niko Kovac’s men managed to salvage a result. Moreover, Klopp’s side have won eight of 11 unbeaten home matches in this tournament since the start of last season when including the playoffs, with six of them by more than a single strike and five by more than two, so we wouldn’t be surprised to see them run away with it.

The visitors were impressive in the group stages as they won five of six unbeaten matches, but the likes of Schalke, Galatasaray and Lokomotiv Moscow are hardly much to handle. Indeed, they lost their only half challenging road game in the first leg against Roma in the last round, meaning they’ve now lost four of their past six winless knockout games on the road in Europe stretching back into 2014/15. What’s more, they’ve gone slightly off the boil in the second half of this season, having won 25 of their opening 29 matches across all tournaments, but just W11-D6-L2 from the subsequent 19 matches. It’s a concern they’re struggling to even see off their fellow domestic sides as Sporting drew with them in the league and knocked them out the Taca da Liga back in January, while Vitoria Guimaraes, Moreirense and Benfica have all taken points off them domestically since February, and Klopp’s outfit are going to be a fair few grades above those sides.

When Portuguese teams have travelled to England in the Champions League since 2006/07, they’ve lost 15 of 18 winless encounters, with nine of their defeats by at least two clear strikes as one of the draws came in the aforementioned second leg here at Anfield. To add insult to injury, Sergio Conceicao’s men will have to travel to Liverpool without January signing Pepe, although new Real Madrid signing Eder Militao should slot back into his preferred centre-back position with relative ease. The hosts have selection troubles of their own as Andy Robertson is banned and James Milner is the most likely customer to fill the void, but that certainly isn’t enough to put us off backing them to take control of the tie.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Liverpool -1.5 Asian Handicap at 1.88

Juventus v Athletico Madrid

Wedneday 13th March. 7:00am AEDT

Atletico Madrid are just $1.31 to advance to the quarters after their 2-0 defeat of Juventus three weeks ago. That win was Atletico all over as their stalwart centre-backs Gimenez and Godin grabbed two late goals to put the tie seemingly out of Juve’s reach. However, after last week’s shocks, the hosts will be as wary as ever to give little away here.

Juventus were the better team in the first leg and they are worthy favourites. Since 2014/15, they have won six of their nine home Champions League knockout matches including scalps of Real Madrid and Barcelona and this is arguably the best XI they’ve had in the period. Atletico, meanwhile, have lost five of their nine away Champions League knockout matches over the same spell though only one of the defeats would have seen them knocked out from this commanding first leg position.

This could well be Juventus’ last meaningful game of the season. In Italy this term they have been imperious. They have picked up, a quite incredible, 75 points already as they’ve won 24 of 27 unbeaten matches including five victories from their last five. Atletico are sandwiched between their two great rivals in La Liga and it looks like they’ll end up second, as they did last season. With 11 games to go they are seven points behind Barca but hold a five-point lead over the stuttering Real. Atletico have won just one of their last eight trips to either in the league though the last six have had Under 2.5 Goals. A repeat would mean the least they’ll achieve is Extra-time against the Old Lady.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Juventus Win $1.75

Man City v Schalke

Wednesday 13th March. 7:00am AEDT

While every other side major side in Europe has seemingly stuttered of late, even Barcelona couldn’t score in their Last 16 first leg, Man City go from strength to strength. As each week passes, an unprecedented Quadruple looks ever-more likely. Though an English team hasn’t won the Champions League since Chelsea in 2012 and also that the Premier League has provided just three of the 19 winners this millennium, this could be the start of an era of dominance given the struggles of club’s form the other major nations. It’s currently shorter than $2.10 that four of the eight quarter-finalists will be English and Man City are, by a distance, the cream of a very good crop.

Man City come into this game on a six-game winning streak in the Premier League and their European form is just as good. Their come-from-behind with 10-men win against Schalke in the first leg almost felt expected given the football we’ve seen from Guardiola’s team over the past 18 months. The 3-2 victory meant the reigning Premier League champions extended their record of scoring at least twice in all of the Champions League games this season. At the weekend, Watford were able to hold City to a goalless first-half but a 13-minute Raheem Sterling hat-trick meant that City racked up their eighth Win & Over 3.5 Goals game in their last 13 at home in the league.

Schalke are currently 14th in the Bundesliga having lost seven of their 13 away fixtures. We can safely assume that similar form in England would have them finishing in the bottom-half of the Premier League. Worryingly for the visitors, City’s record hosting bottom-half teams domestically under Pep reads:  W23-D2-L1. There were at least four match goals in 12 of the victories.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Dutch 3-1 and Any Other Home Win Correct Scores at $2.25 (assuming $11.5 for 3-1 and $2.86 for Any Other Home Win)

Barcelona v Lyon

Thursday 14th March. 7:00am AEDT

The highest scoring team in Spain and the second highest scoring team in France played out a very unfancied goalless draw in their first leg in Lyon. Barcelona ($5.30) remain second-favourites behind Man City ($3.45) to win the Champions League despite one away goal putting their position in the tournament in serious jeopardy.

Over the past three seasons, Barcelona have won just three of their nine Champions League knockout matches but closer examination shows they’ve prevailed in three of four home matches in that sample with each victory by at least three goals. Looking back further, Barcelona have an incredible record against teams ranked like Lyon; we currently have the French-side ranked 25th in Europe. Barcelona have gone W21-D3-L0 hosting teams ranked 11-30 since 2005/06 and 19 of the victories were by two clear goals.

Lyon are currently in third position in Ligue 1 but despite PSG having played two games fewer they trail the league-leaders by a huge 21 points already. Only five teams in the league have shipped more away goals this term than Lyon so it could be a long night ahead against one of Europe’s most potent attacks.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Barcelona -1.75 Asian Handicap $1.88

Bayern Munich v Liverpool

Thursday 14th March. 7:00am AEDT

There is nothing between these two in the market as its even money the pair on Betfair to qualify for the last eight.

Given the attacking talent that Liverpool have at their disposal, Niko Kovac will know that his team will have to win on the night to advance in Europe’s elite competition. Since 2014/15, Bayern have won 21 of 26 home matches as they’ve turned the Allianz into a fortress. Their record in knockout clashes is much worse, though. They won just one of their last four at home including defeats to Real Madrid in each of the last two seasons. Over the past five seasons they’ve hosted top-10 ranked sides on eight occasions in the knockout stage and just one of the games saw fewer than three goals – seven also saw both sides net.

Liverpool’s away form in the Champions League is a worry. They lost all three road games in the group stage but countered that with three thrilling home victories. Last season’s finalists were involved in exciting games throughout their run. Since the start of 2017/18, 16 of their 22 European matches have featured at least three goals and with Kimmich out for Bayern we expect the English side to prove too strong in attack.

With Bayern’s imperious home record it’s difficult to go against them but we feel that Liverpool are the stronger outfit and that they’ll prevail in the most exciting game of the remaining second legs. Liverpool to qualify and Over 2.5 Goals are similar prices but it’s the latter that appeals more given six of the Reds’ last nine against teams ranked in the top-10 in Europe have settled that market.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Over 2.5 Goals $1.87

PSG v Manchester United

Thursday 7th March. 7:00am AEDT

Man Utd continue their upward curve under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on a domestic front, but they have a mountain to climb in Europe after being outclassed by PSG in the 2-0 defeat at Old Trafford in the first leg.

The Red Devils started that game with Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard, Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera, all of whom are now either injured or suspended. While Romelu Lukaku has since returned to form to add some power to their attack, a likely midfield trio of Fred, Andreas Pereira and Scott McTominay is hardly what is required to pull off a famous comeback, especially as the Parc des Princes.

Indeed, only the ‘Big Two’ from Spain – Barcelona and Real Madrid – have won here since PSG re-entered as regulars in this competition in 2012/13 (W20-D9-L2 overall).

What’s more, this century, 14 teams have won 2-0 away from home in the first leg of a Champions League knockout tie and they hold a W9-D4-L1 record in the return leg at home. However, both teams have scored in seven of the 11 of these to take place since 2010/11 and that’s how we’ll play it as it’s hardly in PSG’s DNA to shut up shop and play for a 0-0.

Thomas Tuchel’s men came with a more defensive game plan at Old Trafford, but now with a two-goal buffer and back in front of their own fans, we think they’ll play like any other game here where the emphasis is on attack.

They’ve netted at least three times in 60% of their home matches in all competitions this term, while both teams scored in their three group stage matches here as even Red Star Belgrade got on the scoresheet.

United have particularly impressed away from home under Solskjaer, winning all eight trips and netting at least three times in half. Although there are a few key men missing from the midfield, Lukaku and Marcus Rashford look dangerous up front and so this can be the seventh successive time both teams have scored when a Premier League club has visited PSG since 2013/14.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Both teams to score at 1.77

Porto v Roma

Thursday 7th March. 7:00am AEDT

Porto came through the weakest Champions League group without breaking a sweat, but against the first quality opposition they faced, they lost 2-1 at Roma in the first leg. However, that all important away goal leaves this tie finely poised and, in this competition, teams that have lost the first leg 2-1 away have won 16 of the 23 return legs at home this century, with this enough to progress on 13 occasions, so there is plenty of hope for the Portuguese club.

What’s more, Roma’s away form has been indifferent to say the least this season, going just W6-D4-L8 in all competitions. Three of those victories came at bottom-four sides in Serie A while the other was at CASK Moscow in the group stages, where they also lost at minnows Viktoria Plzen. In fact, they’ve lost six of their last seven on the road in the Champions League, as they reached last year’s semis despite losing all three away knockout legs.

It’s unsurprising that Porto have a dominant home record domestically, but they also fare pretty well here in this competition. They’ve won 13 of 19 home matches since 2014/15 (excluding play-offs), and even when we only include opposition from Europe’s Big Five leagues, they triumphed in seven of nine during this period.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Porto Win at 2.05

Real Madrid vs Ajax

Wednesday 6th March. 7:00am AEDT

Back-to-back defeats at the Bernabeu in El Clasico won’t have best pleased the locals ahead of this second leg tie. Both results saw them get knocked out of the Copa del Rey and their faint title hopes end, so once again all Real’s eggs are in the one European basket.

However, they are strong favourites to progress here having taken a 2-1 lead from the Johan Cruijff Arena, albeit in rather fortunate circumstances as Ajax had the better of the chances, even having a goal chalked off by VAR.

In fact, since 2010/11 whenever they’ve held a led going into a second leg in the knockout phases, they’ve progressed on all 14 occasions, but they’re just W7-D1-L6 over 90 minutes across these matches, winning just three of seven to take place at home.

Ajax, meanwhile, have bounced back impressively from their first leg defeat, winning their three subsequent matches by a combined score of 13-1, including an impressive 3-0 victory away at Feyenoord in their last game almost a week ago on Wednesday.

Erik ten Hag knows his side can cause Real problems, it’s just a case of them taking their chances which only increases with the suspension of defensive lynchpin Sergio Ramos for the hosts.

Furthermore, teams that have lost the first leg of a Champions League knockout tie by a 2-1 scoreline on home turf have gone W2-D4-L1 in the second leg on the road, and so we’re siding with Ajax to go well on the night, but can still see Real sneaking though to the quarters.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Ajax +1.0 Asian Handicap at 1.88

Dortmund v Spurs

Wednesday 6th March. 7:00am AEDT

Spurs take a three-goal lead into the second leg and history tells us that they’re all but through at this point. This century, 21 teams have lost the first leg of a Champions League knockout tie away from home by at least a three-goal margin, and only three have gone on to qualify – Deportivo in 2003/04, Roma against Barcelona last year and the Catalonian’s infamous comeback against PSG in 2016/17 (with the latter the only one of the three examples where they didn’t have an away goal from the first leg).

While Dortmund may not have much hope in the overall tie, there is plenty of reason to be optimistic about their chances in the match outcome market as the home side are W13-D2-L6 across these 21 second legs, and if we narrow that down to exactly a three-goal deficit, then they’ve won 11 of 13 such encounters.

Not only did Dortmund lose 3-0 at Wembley, but their domestic form has also taken a dip as they’ve been knocked out of the DFK Pokal, while they’re now level on points with Bayern in the Bundesliga having let a nine-point lead slip.

They’ve gone just W1-D4-L2 in all competitions since the start of February over 90 minutes, but most of their troubles have occurred on the road. They’ve won an impressive 12 of 17 unbeaten matches at the Westfalenstadion this season, beating the likes of Bayern and Atletico.

Since their success in the first leg, Spurs have also had their troubles domestically, losing at Burnley and Chelsea before a fortunate draw at home in the North London derby. Their faint title hopes have now dispersed, and their away form and mental strength shown travelling to stronger teams will be of concern to Mauricio Pochettino.

They failed to win any of their three trips in the group stages of this competition, while travelling to ‘Big Six’ sides in the Premier League since 2016/17, they’re just W2-D3-L8.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Dortmund Win at 1.95

Atletico Madrid vs Juventus

Thursday 21st February. 7:00am AEDT

We saw some extraordinary, high-scoring matches in the knockout phases of the Champions League last season, but last week was a return to the more traditional approach for knockout football as all four matches were cagey to begin with and goalless at the break. For those who enjoy the traditional tactic of not giving anything away in the first leg then this is the tie for them. Two of Europe’s most pragmatic sides and best defences face off, and although Atletico are not enjoying the best of seasons domestically, they are one of the shrewdest operators when it comes to the latter stages in Europe. They’re unbeaten at home in 11 Champions League knockout fixtures under Diego Simeone (W7-D4) as the likes Barcelona (twice), Real Madrid (twice), Bayern and Chelsea have visited during this period. What’s more, they’ve conceded just two goals across these matches as nine have had fewer than three strikes and eight with no more than one.

Juventus didn’t spend big on Cristiano Ronaldo just to extend their dominance domestically, as their entire season was always going to be defined by success or failure in this competition after ending up losing finalists twice in the past four years. This will be a real test of their mettle and when these two met in the group stages in the 2014/15 edition, there was just the solitary strike across two games, with Atleti winning prevailing 1-0 in Madrid. As a result, we’re surprised to see the hosts priced up as the outsiders for this clash, especially given these are the type of cagey fixtures they’re at their most comfortable in.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Atletico 0 Asian Handicap at 1.98

Schalke vs Man City

Thursday 21st February. 7:00am AEDT

Schalke’s second-placed finish in last season’s Bundesliga is looking more and more like a fluke as they’re languishing down in 14th this term and are one of the poorest sides to reach this stage of the competition in recent years. They’re here because they were fortunate to be in a group that consisted of themselves, Porto, Galatasaray and Lokomotiv Moscow. They may have beaten the latter two at home, but domestically, both Bayern and Dortmund (the only two German sides anywhere near Man City’s level) have won here this term as Schalke also trailed at half-time on both occasions.

The Citizens are the shortest priced side to qualify and there is no reason to think they won’t breeze past their German opponents. They perhaps weren’t at their scintillating best during the group stages, but they still eased through qualification and they’re now in red-hot form, winning 12 of their last 13 in all competitions, totting-up a sensational 49 goals in the process (an average of 3.8 goals per game). A real trait of this run has been their fast starts as they’ve led at the interval in 11 of the victories, netting within the first 26-minutes in nine and inside 10-mintes in five. Guardiola will once again be keen to be quick out the traps and almost kill the tie before its begun, so we’re backing the visitors Man City/Man City half-time/full-time.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Man City/Man City HT/FT at 1.85

Liverpool vs Bayern

Wednesday 20th February. 7:00am AEDT

When the draw was made this is the tie that most people’s eyes would have been drawn to. Last year’s finalists, Liverpool, won all three of their matches at Anfield in the group stage, including a 3-2 success over PSG in their opener. It means they’ve won eight of 10 unbeaten matches here in this competition under Jurgen Klopp, as seven of these victories saw at least three goals as they hammered the likes of Man City and Roma in the knockout phase last year. In fact, Anfield has become a real fortress over the past 12 months as the Reds are W21-D4-L1 across all competitions, while in the league they’ve dropped just four points this campaign.

In contrast, Bayern and their ageing squad are on the decline and their six-year stranglehold on the Bundesliga title could well end this season. Most of their issues seem to be at the back as Jerome Boateng’s form has been a concern for some considerable time now, Manuel Neuer hasn’t been his commanding old self since the metatarsal fracture that saw him miss virtually the whole of last season, while as good as Joshua Kimmich is going forwards his defensive positioning remains suspect. As a result, they’re without a clean sheet since the winter break (six matches) and all but one of their last 15 games have seen at least three goals.

The Bavarians have particularly struggled when facing teams that are quick in the transition from defence to attack, and so Liverpool’s front-three will be licking their lips. However, the host are without the monumental Virgil van Dijk who is suspended, which only increases the chances of goals, as the visitors still have plenty of attacking prowess with the likes of Robert Lewandowski and Kingsley Coman. Indeed, the only two matches van Dijk has not played this season, the Reds conceded twice, so it looks as if attack will be the best form of defence for Klopp’s men. Given German teams are just W2-D1-L10 travelling to these shores in this competition since 2014/15, including Spurs beating this season’s best team in the Bundesliga 3-0 last week, we still expect Liverpool to come out on top.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Liverpool Win & Over 2.5 Goals at 2.88

Lyon vs Barcelona

Wednesday 20th February. 7:00am AEDT

Barcelona are as short as 1.13 to qualify from this Last 16 tie but Lyon will be no pushovers having taken four points off Man City in the group stages. Although they won four of six unbeaten matches in a tricky group, the Catalans have shown their vulnerability on the road in Europe over recent seasons in the knockout phases. Indeed, they’re just W1-D1-L4 in such matches since being crowned champions in 2014/15, and that includes defeats by at least three goals at the likes of Roma, Juventus and PSG. Now, Lyon don’t fall into that type of quality, but with Barca currently not firing on all cylinders, we expect this first leg to be very competitive.

Ernesto Valverde’s men ended a run of three successive draws in all competitions with a less than memorable 1-0 success hosting Valladolid on the weekend. Meanwhile, they’ve won just one of their last four away from home, losing at Levante and Sevilla in the Copa del Rey, and although they may have been missing a few key players for those defeats, they certainly had their full squad out in their most recent visit to Athletic Bilbao, which ended goalless.

Lyon conceded the most goals of any of the teams to qualify for the knockout phases, though they remained unbeaten as five of their results were score draws. At home, all three matches finished 2-2, and unsurprisingly, ‘overs’ and ‘BTTS’ are very short here. Therefore, for a bit more value we’d rather side with the hosts on the handicap as they’ve proven they can trouble the best on their day. As well as those results against Pep Guardiola’s men, they also inflicted PSG’s first league defeat of the season earlier this month and although their captain Nabil Fekir is suspended, they still have dangerous players in Memphis Depay and Moussa Dembele, who has five goals in his last eight.

Moreover, the last time these two met was at this stage 10 years ago and the first leg in France finished 1-1. Over that period, Spanish sides are a decent W8-D7-L3 travelling to Ligue 1 teams in the Champions League proper, but they’ve won just two of eight knockout trips in this time and only one of the six first legs, with half of these taking place at Lyon.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Lyon +0.5 Asian Handicap

Ajax vs Real Madrid

Thursday 14th February. 7:00am AEDT

Ajax pushed Bayern all the way in the group stages, but the German champions were really struggling in the first half of the season, and the Dutch side’s form has dropped off recently with domestic defeats to Heracles and a 6-2 thrashing at the hands of Feyenoord.

Indeed, they trail PSV by six points in the Eredivisie, who were winless throughout the Champions League group stage, while they may have to go to battle without star defensive midfielder Frenkie De Jong – who incidentally moves to Barcelona for £65m in the summer.

After a lumbering start to the campaign, which eventually cost Julen Lopetegui his job, Real Madrid have found their groove to win 19 of 25 matches in all competitions under Santiago Solari. The performances have improved throughout, even drawing 1-1 at the Camp Nou before winning away in the Madrid derby in their last two.

Although they lost at CSKA Moscow under the previous regime, they won 2-0 in Rome and 5-0 at Viktoria Plzen under the Argentine. In fact, excluding trips to teams from Europe’s Big-5 leagues, Real have won 17 of their 21 away games in this competition since 2008/09.

Moreover, Spanish teams have been highly successful over the past decade when visiting Dutch sides in the Champions League, winning seven of nine matches with five of these by at least two clear goals.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Real Madrid to Win at 1.88

Tottenham v Dortmund

Thursday 14th February. 7:00am AEDT

This looks the toughest of the Last 16 ties to call and things aren’t made any easier with the absences of key men from either side. The loss of Harry Kane and Dele Alli has been well documented for the hosts outfit, but in fairness to Spurs, they’ve grinded out four consecutive league victories without their top scorer.

Marco Reus is arguably more important to Dortmund than Kane is to Spurs having provided 17 goals and 11 assists in all competitions this term, while in the league alone their win ration drops from 63% to 44% in his absence since the start of last season.

Dortmund are experiencing their first real tricky spell of the season as they’ve drawn three consecutive matches over 90 minutes, including a DFB Pokal exit on penalties, while Bayern are breathing down their necks domestically having cut their lead in the table to five points.

This will be their fifth meeting with Mauricio Pochettino’s men in Europe in the last three seasons having faced off in the knockout stages of the 2015/16 Europa League and last seasons’ Champions League group stage. Spurs won the most recent two of those meetings as they’ve generally been entertaining affairs with all four featuring at least three goals.

However, with stars missing from both sides, we’re reluctant to back ‘overs’. Instead, we think Heung-min Son will have an influence on the game. His time away at the Asian Cup hasn’t seemed to have slowed the South Korean down, admirably taking up the goal scoring mantle in the absence of Kane with three goals in as many games since returning.

Overall, he has 10 goals in his last 11 matches for Spurs and seems to relish facing Dortmund. He’s bagged three in four against the Black and Yellows for the Premier League side and even going back to his Bundesliga days with Hamburg and Leverkusen, he has eight in nine appearances.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Heung-min Son Anytime Goalscorer at 2.62

Manchester United v PSG: Leg One

Wednesday 13th February. 7:00am AEDT

Man Utd have won 10 of 11 unbeaten matches under former frontman Ole Gunnar Solskjaer but this is by far their biggest test to date. The Norwegian was dealt a pretty easy set of fixtures; only the 3-1 win at the Emirates in the FA Cup and the 1-0 win at Wembley in the league could be considered very tough games.

The others still had to be won, mind. The Spurs match is probably the best guide to what to expect here and United were played off the park that day but saved by the hands, and more often feet, of David De Gea.

United have a full-strength team to choose from here but the visitors are without a host of their superstars. Neymar, Cavani, Meunier and Verratti will all miss out as PSG aim to lift their maiden Champions League crown. All of the pressure then will fall on the shoulders of World Cup winner Kylian Mbappe but if anyone can handle the pressure he can.

PSG topped a Group of Death that contained Liverpool and Napoli. In doing so they extended their streak of netting in each of their last 22 Champions League matches though they’ve also conceded in all of their last 10. On the road, 10 of their 11 Champions League games since 2016/17 have had Over 2.5 Goals with nine featuring four or more scores.

PSG have been knocked out at this stage in both of the last two editions of this competition losing the Last 16 away leg 6-1 to Barcelona in 2016/17 and 3-1 to Real Madrid last year.

16 of Man Utd’s last 20 Premier League games have had Over 2.5 Goals and 12 have had Over 3.5 Goals. No team in the division has had more of either with neighbours City, 16 and 10 respectively, the only team close.

United are a different team under Solskjaer but their defensive problems remain. They’ve faced teams we have ranked in the top-10 in Europe six times over the last six years but five of the matches still saw Over 2.5 Goals.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Over 2.5 Goals 1.80

Roma v Porto: Leg One

Wednesday 13th February. 7:00am AEDT

Last season, Roma won home knockout matches against Shakhtar, Barcelona and Liverpool as they almost reached the final. Their 2-0 defeat to Real Madrid in Matchday 5 ended a run of six consecutive home wins in this competition but they’ve lucked out a little with the draw and probably face the weakest of the Group Winners in the Last 16.

Porto were fantastic in the Group Stage as they picked up 16 points. The Portuguese champions were given a handy draw, though, as they were paired with Galatasaray, Schalke and Lokomotiv Moscow.

Porto regularly feature in Europe’s elite competition but they tend to struggle on the road against the better teams. This decade, they’ve lost eight of 12 trips to teams from England, France, Germany, Italy or Spain as they tend to fall just short against the cream of the crop.

Roma have struggled a little away this season but they are in fine form at home. Their recent record reads W4-D2-L0 as they’ve netted 16 times.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Roma Win 2.14

Man City v Hoffenheim

Thursday Dec 13th, 7.00am AEDT

As previously mention, the Citizens just need a point to secure top spot in Group F. Hoffenheim also have something ton play for as they seek third-place and qualification to the Europa League – a porobable target at the start of the campaign – so we expect Julian Nagelsmann to send a strong side over.

While they may still be winless in this competition, the Germans have not been short of entertainment under their young managers attacking approach. Indeed, including their two play-off legs with Liverpool last season, all seven of their matches have seen both teams score as they’ve averaged a whopping 4.43 goals overall. Four have ended in defeat and that is exactly what we expect to happen here.

City’s 21-match unbeaten run in the league was ended by Chelsea on the weekend and we expect a response. Indeed, after their only other defeat this season (to Lyon on matchday one), they won 12 of their next 13 matches in all competitions, with the only exception a goalless draw at Anfield.

With the busy festive period approaching we expect Pep Guardiola to rotate, but with such strength in depth and squad members itching to get game time, the competition for places should ensure there are plenty of focused minds out there on the pitch. Under Pep, the Citizens have only kept seven clean sheets in 23 outings in Europe, so a home win and both teams to score looks the best way to get them onside

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Man City Win and both teams to score at 2.23

Shakhtar Donetsk v Lyon

Thursday Dec 13th, 7.00am AEDT

With the two qualified teams already secured for Group’s E, G, and H, Wednesday night is all about Group F, with all four positions still up for grabs. Man City look likely to finish top as all they need is a point hosting Hoffenheim, but there is plenty at stake in Ukraine.

Shakhtar’s dramatic 92nd minute winner at Hoffenheim a fortnight ago has kept their hopes alive and a victory here would see them qualify for the Last 16 for the second consecutive year (assuming City get a point or more against Lyon).

They’ll back themselves as well having gone W7-D2-L3 on home soil in this competition since 2015/16, with those three defeats coming against classy opponents Man City, Real Madrid and PSG.

Having led Man City twice, Lyon would have qualified automatically with victory, but their draw and Shakhtar’s late goal means it will be a nervy night for Bruno Genesio’s men. They’ve shown enough in their two unbeaten fixtures with the outright favourites City that they should go on to qualify ahead of their hosts, but a leaky rearguard brings in an element of doubt.

They’ve drawn four of five unbeaten matches during the group stages, but three of these stalemates finished 2-2 and the other was 3-3. The shoddy defending in this group has made for highly entertaining encounters and we should be in for another with the Ukrainians having no choice but to go for it, while Lyon’s strength lies in counter-attacking with Memphis Depay and Nabil Fekir. Indeed, all 10 encounters in this group prior to tonight have seen at least three strikes, and when excluding City, all five encounters have had four or more goals.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Over 3.5 Goals at 2.29

Barcelona v Tottenham

Wednesday Dec 12th, 7.00am AEDT

Barcelona hold a phenomenal record on home turf in this competition, winning 26 of their last 28 unbeaten matches, and so it’s difficult to side against them even when the result matters little in terms of their ambitions.

Indeed, the Catalans only failed to score in one of those 28 games, netting at least twice in 24 of these and three or more in 18.

Despite having secured not just qualification but also top spot, this is not an unusual situation they find themselves in, and they’ve won seven of nine unbeaten encounters on matchday six since 2009/10, as well as 11 of 13 such games at the Camp Nou dating back to 2000/01.

Their consistency in Europe this century has been alarming and their search for goals ceaseless, as they’ve netted 15 times in the four of these that came on home turf since 2013/14 as they beat the likes of Celtic, PSG and M’gladbach by 6-1, 3-1 and 4-0 scorelines respectively.

Their potential in the final third has been given an additional boost by the goalscoring return of Luis Suarez to the starting line-up this weekend, with the Uruguayan demonstrating enough in his 79 minutes on the pitch to suggest he’ll be included once more here – especially with the disappointing Malcolm out injured.

Some Spurs fans might be expecting Lionel Messi to miss out given Barca’s standing in the group, but they’re likely to be left disappointed as he’s completed the full 90 minutes in three of the final four seasons on matchday six, and chasing the crown for top scorer, it will be a tough call for Ernesto Valverde to leave him out.

Given his sublime record versus English teams, scoring 22 goals in 29 games against them, we expect another another masterclass from the Argentine, as he produced in their 4-2 success at Wembley in the reverse fixture.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Barcelona to Win at $2.18

Liverpool v Napoli

Wednesday Dec 12th, 7.00am AEDT

Napoli overcame Liverpool 1-0 in the reverse fixture back at the start of October, but the Reds can trace the true source of their European woes this term back to a 2-0 defeat away at Crvena Zvezda last month.

It leaves them at the very least needing a win here, and so they’ll need to be wary of a Napoli side that can play on the counter.

Indeed, that was the approach PSG utilized to great effect as they downed Liverpool 2-1 at the Parc des Princes in the last round of fixtures, while Carlo Ancelotti’s men have shown some considerable mettle in a tough group as they remain the ones unbeaten still.

In fact, the Neapolitans haven’t tasted defeat in 12 outings across all competitions since a defeat to Juve back in September, winning eight, with the four stalemates including two fixtures with PSG in Europe and a clash with Roma domestically.

They were unlucky not to take maximum points in Paris as Angel Di Maria netted a late equalizer, so Liverpool are too short at the prices against strong opposition.

Napoli will know a point is all they need to get through to the next round, and the more Jurgen Klopp’s outfit pile forward, the greater those opportunities on the counter will be. With that in mind, the visitors look a bet to cover +1.0 on the Asian Handicap.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Napoli +1 Asian Handicap at 1.85

Lyon vs Man City

Wednesday Nov 28th, 7.00am AEDT

After a surprising defeat hosting Lyon on matchday one, Man City have gone into overdrive and seized control of Group F. Since that defeat, they’ve won 12 of 13 unbeaten games across all competitions, pilling on the goals as they’ve netted 42 times across these – including three victories by at least four goals within their last four.

Victory here would confirm their sport in the Last 16 and so we don’t expect any let up in their scintillating form.

Lyon’s success in Manchester was a wake-up call for the Citizens and it could come back to bite them. The French outfit have accumulated just three points in Group F since, with successive draws, all finishing either 2-2 or 3-3. In fact, both teams have scored in 10 of their last 14 across all competitions and although they’ve only lost once during this run, they were pumped 5-0 by PSG in that defeat. That leaky defence worries us with City out to exact revenge from the reverse fixture.

Since the start of last season, Pep Guardiola’s charges have won five of their seven away matches in Europe, with four of these victories by at least two clear goals. The two exceptions were at Anfield where Liverpool have been so strong, as well as at Shakhtar last term once they had top spot in the group sewn up and fielded a weakened team.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Man City -1.5 Asian Handicap at 2.07

Roma vs Real Madrid

Wednesday Nov 28th, 7.00am AEDT

These two share the lead at the top of Group G with nine points apiece, and the winner of this contest will book themselves a spot in the knockout rounds while the loser could come under some pressure on matchday six if CSKA beat Viktoria Plzen.

Neither side is performing particularly well domestically – 7th and 6th respectively – and although Real won the reverse fixture, they look too short here given their recent troubles. While there was initial improvement under Santiago Solari, netting 15 times in four consecutive victories in all competitions, they weren’t the most arduous of tasks.

Los Blancos netted four at third-tier outfit Melilla in the Copa del Rey, five at group whipping boys Victoria Plzen and another four came away at the defensively unsure Celta Vigo. A 3-0 defeat to Eibar on the weekend just highlights that there are still major issues, and the injury of defensive midfielder Casemiro is a massive blow in their trip to the tricky Stadio Olimpico.

Roma may have gone just W2-D1-L5 on their travels in this tournament since the start of last season, but at home they’ve excelled as they’ve won seven of eight unbeaten games over that same period. The exception was a stalemate against the dogged Atletico, and the only side they failed to keep a clean sheet against was Jurgen Klopp’s free-scoring Liverpool. They still overcame the Reds and the likes of Chelsea and Barcelona have also been victims in the Italian capital.

Furthermore, Spanish teams are just W5-D14-L9 away to Serie A sides in the Champions league since 2007/08, while even restricting this to just Barcelona and Real Madrid’s results, it’s still only W4-D10-L7 over this period.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Roma 0 Asian Handicap at 2.45

PSG vs Liverpool

Thursday Nov 29th, 7.00am AEDT

There’s only two points separating 1st from 4th in Group C following Red Star’s shock win over Liverpool in Serbia, and a little surprisingly it’s Napoli who lead the way owing to their own victory over Liverpool. The Reds have made life tricky for themselves, but there is no way they can be as poor as they were in Belgrade on matchday four.

Their 3-0 victory at Vicarage Road in the first game back after the international break is a positive sign, while they’re unbeaten against the likes of Man City, Spurs, Chelsea and Arsenal in league action this season.

Having dominated PSG in the reverse fixture and seen Napoli go to the Parc des Princes and be unlucky not to leave with all three points, Jurgen Klopp’s men certainly won’t be overawed by the occasion.

The Parisians continue to boss it in Ligue 1 with their latest 1-0 victory over Toulouse coming despite the notable absentees of Kylian Mbappe and Neymar, but both are expected to return here. However, their only success in this competition has been hosting Red Star as they were thoroughly out-played at Anfield and lucky to escape with a point in both encounters with Napoli.

The Italians out-shot them 34-25 over the two games and so we’re reluctant to back Thomas Tuchel’s men at the prices. Instead, we’re favouring goals, as is usually the case with PSG with 13 of their last 16 in this competition seeing at least four strikes.

Although Liverpool have matured in their performances this season, adopting a more controlled and less manic approach, the situation dictates a more offensive strategy.

What’s more, 11 of their 19 Champions League matches since the start of last season have seen four or more goals and it looks the best angle in what should be a cracking game.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Over 3.5 Goals at 2.2

Tottenham vs Inter Milan

Thursday Nov 29th, 7.00am AEDT

Spurs kept their slim qualification hopes alive thanks to two late Harry Kane goals hosting PSV, but they must beat Inter here and then hope PSV do them a favour in the final round of fixtures. Their games haven’t been short of excitement as some lacklustre defending has led to both teams scoring in all four, with 16 goals in total.

At home in the group stages, only Barcelona have done a number on them since the start of last season, as they secured a pair of 3-1 victories over Real Madrid and Dortmund last term. Go back another year and their only clean sheet in Europe on home turf at any stage has come against Apoel Nicosia.

Inter Milan stole the game from Spurs on matchday one to give them an advantage in this group, while a point hosting Barcelona most recently means their destiny is very much in their own hands.

Apart from when they failed to score at the Camp Nou, both teams have scored in their remaining group encounters. Only Napoli and Juventus have outscored Inter in Serie A this term and in Mauro Icardi they have a deadly assassin to capitalise on any shoddy Spurs defending.

We fancy both sides to register on the scoresheet, but when excluding Juve’s results, Italian sides have lost six of nine winless trips to Premier League teams in this competition since 2011/12, and so we can’t help but favour the hosts.

Indeed, their poor results so far came earlier in the campaign when they hadn’t hit their straps. However, their confidence will have been given a massive boost following their 3-0 success over Chelsea on the weekend, as the swagger of their front four – Kane, Alli, Erikson and Son – has returned.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Spurs Win/BTTS at 3.4

Lyon v Hoffenheim

Thursday Nov 8th, 7.00am AEDT

These two played out a thrilling 3-3 draw in Germany a fortnight ago, but now back on home soil we expect Lyon to edge this one. A victory here would go a long way to earning qualification to the knockout stages, and they’ll be confident having won nine of 13 matches in all competitions at the Groupama Stadium when including the tail end of last season. They’ve lost just once in this run, while they’ll also be boosted by the return of their captain Nabil Fekir to full fitness

Hoffenheim are struggling to reproduce the same kind of football that saw them qualify for Europe in the past couple of seasons. They come here having lost four of their last eight outings (W3-D1-L4), with all three victories over current bottom-six sides in the Bundesliga.

Although they managed an impressive point at Shakhtar in their only other away game, they are inexperienced on the continent and we think they’ll fall short against the nous of Lyon. Indeed, the Ligue 1 outfit have won seven of their last 10 home matches in European competition.

Betting Strategy

BACK – Lyon Win at 1.99

Juventus v Man Utd

Thursday Nov 8th, 7.00am AEDT

Juventus outclassed United in every department in the reverse at Old Trafford as they scored early and then controlled the game. A win here would guarantee the Old Lady top spot and despite United winning their two domestic games since, there is no way we can see them turning this one back around in Turin.

Juve are dominant in front of their own fans, winning 28 of 35 home matches in all competitions since the start of last season. In fact, since returning to the competition back in 2012/13, they’re unbeaten in the group stages on home turf (W11-D8) and this is arguably the strongest side they’ve had in this period.

English teams have a terrible recent record travelling to Italy, losing 10 of 13 such trips from the group stages onwards since 2011/12. The only two success in this period came from Man City against Roma and Napoli, so we give a much weaker United side little hope. They’ve been starting games so poorly recently, going behind within 21 minutes in five of their last six in which there has been at least one match goal.

While Mourinho’s men have been able to fight back in many of these, they can ill-afford such sloppiness against Allegri’s charges. So, given the Red Devil’s tendency to start poorly, Juve/Juve half-time/full-time appeals most.

Betting Strategy

BACK – Juve/Juve HT/FT at 2.5

Inter Milan v Barcelona

Wednesday Nov 7th, 7.00am AEDT

Inter hammered Genoa 5-0 to continue their impressive run of nine victories form their last 10 matches in all competitions. That sole defeat came at the Camp Nou where Barcelona are so strong, but now back at the San Siro we expect Inter to give a better account of themselves.

Indeed, they’ve beaten decent sides in Milan, Spurs and Fiorentina at home during this run and although the Catalans are a step up, they can take confidence from Serie A sides losing just five of 25 home Champions League matches against Spanish sides since 2009/10.

Barca in particularly don’t have great memories of travelling to Italy over this period with just one success in 10, including a pair of 3-0 defeats at Juventus and Roma since April 2017. They won convincingly at Wembley in their first away group match, but Lionel Messi was instrumental that day and although he may make the squad for this trip, Valverde is concerned about not rushing him back, especially as they’ve already taken maximum points from this group.

The Catalans have done well without their Argentine maestro, but their last two games have come on the road as they’ve only managed to beat third-tier Cultural Leonesa 1-0 in the Copa del Rey, while they needed two late goals to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat at Rayo Vallecano on the weekend.

Spurs gifted them an early goal at Wembley, but we don’t expect such mistakes from Luciano Spalletti’s side and given Barca have won just half of their 10 away group matches since 2015/16, the hosts are worth siding with on the handicap.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Inter +0.5 Asian Handicap at 1.89

Napoli v PSG

Wednesday Nov 7th, 7.00am AEDT

Napoli were so unlucky not to leave the Parc des Princes in the reverse fixture with more than a point as PSG’s goals came courtesy of a wicked deflection and a last minute Di Maria wonder strike. The Italians have adapted to Carlo Ancelotti’s methods very well and their only defeat in their last 11 in all competitions was away at Juventus. That includes defeating Liverpool here 1-0 where they limited the Reds to just four attempts at goal, and none on target.

They have a similar job to do against this Parisian front three, but since becoming Champions League regulars in 2011/12, Napoli hold a handsome W9-D2-L2 home record at the group stages, and so won’t be intimidated by the French champions.

Unless they get a positive result tonight, there is every chance this PSG side won’t qualify for the knockout stages. While they are so dominant in Ligue 1, they’re often undercooked when playing against quality in this competition.

Their 3-2 defeat at Anfield was flattering and their overall away group stage record since 2014/15 is just W7-D2-L4. Six of those victories were against sides we would consider minnows in relation to this competition – Anderlecht, Celtic, Basel, Ludogorets, Malmo and Apoel Nicosia – and so we envisage another disappointing European night for this PSG side

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Napoli 0 Asian Handicap at 2.17

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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