UEFA Champions League Expert Tips 2019/20

Betfair Soccer Experts Form Labs are back to give their Champions League Tips for the 2019/20 tournament. They will preview major games in each stage of the tournament and give their expert tips along the way.


Atalanta v Valencia

Following a brief dip around the middle of January, Atalanta are enjoying themselves again and have now won nine of 14 matches. That includes three of four unbeaten recent ones, most impressively dismantling Torino 7-0 and securing a vital victory over Roma on Saturday to put them in pole position for fourth place.

This could be a good time for them to face Valencia then, with the Spanish side losing two of three winless matches of late as both defeats came away from home. The visitors are not prone to featuring in high-scoring games regularly, but they’ll find the likes of Josip Ilicic, Luis Muriel, Duvan Zapata and Alejandro Gomez hard to resist.

That’s especially the case given recent additions to Valencia’s treatment table. Centre-back Ezequiel Garay is joined on the sidelines by the suspended Gabriel Paulista, meaning the unconvincing Eliaquim Mangala will have to partner Mouctar Diakhaby in the middle.

There are further problems with goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen, winger Denis Cheryshev and striker Kevin Gameiro all doubtful, so this is a massive opportunity for the Italian side to make the most of an advantageous Last 16 draw.

Garay’s cruciate ligament injury gives Valencia a big problem as they’ve shipped seven goals in three games in his absence. In fact, excluding against lower league sides, Los Che are just W1-D1-L4 away from home this season when the Argentine has played just a few minutes or less. Both teams scored in five of these, including 2-1 defeats to Granada and Real Betis, as well as a 4-1 loss in Mallorca.

Atalanta were Serie A’s top scorers last term and they’re at it again with the 63 goals they’ve bagged in the current campaign eight better than Lazio, 14 more than Inter and a further three ahead of Juve’s haul.

Gian Piero Gasperini’s side are capable of blowing teams away on their day and with their opponent’s suffering from a depleted backline, this is as good a chance to put one foot in the quarter-finals as they could have hoped for.

Betting Strategy

BACK – Atalanta & BTTS at $3.50


Spurs v RB Leipzig

Son Heung-min stepped up last season in Harry Kane’s absence and his brace versus Villa at the weekend ensures the England captain’s absence is not being talked about once again. An away win will have delighted Jose Mourinho, but Tottenham have been much more competitive at home where they’ve won four in a row, as well as eight from 10 under new management.

The top sides can still get to them with Chelsea and Liverpool the two exceptions, while City were level pegging before Oleksandr Zinchenko’s red card at the start of the month. However, Leipzig aren’t in the greatest of form at present, with a win over second-from-bottom Werder Bremen their first in five, and they should fare better in the second leg back at the Red Bull Arena.

Timo Werner is struggling a little bit for form but we don’t expect that to hinder Leipzig registering on the scoresheet. Indeed, they’ve done so in 26 of 28 road trips since the beginning of 2019, scoring at least twice in 19 of them and three or more in 15.

It’s not as though Spurs are managing regular clean sheets either. They conceded 18 shots against Villa and have had to face at least 10 shots in each of their past eight matches. That’s despite all but two of these games coming against bottom-half or Championship opponents, and Leipzig will know that away goals here could swing the tie decisively in their favour.

17 of Leipzig’s 20 matches dating back into October have seen at least three goals, while 13 saw a minimum of four, and so in an open game they definitely have the potential to take something from this tie. Seven of Spurs’ 10 home games since Mourinho came in have featured at least three goals, though both teams to score appears a safer option with a 1-1 draw also a distinct possibility.

Betting Strategy

BACK – BTTS (Yes) at $1.60


Dortmund v PSG

This could well end up being the most entertaining Last 16 matchup for the neutral, with PSG hardly averse to an away day collapse in Europe and Dortmund in full madness mode at present. The hosts became the first team to net five times in three consecutive Bundesliga games at the start of the year, while they’ve hardly been watertight themselves having lost their next two fixtures 3-2 and 4-3, before dishing out a 4-0 thrashing to Eintracht Frankfurt.

In fact, there’s been a minimum of four goals in eight of Dortmund’s last nine now, while five of six outings since the winter break have seen at least five. 19-year-old talents Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland, in particular, have been highly productive, with the former netting 12 times in 14 appearances, while the latter is a shade under 40 minutes per goal in his new environment.

PSG are hardly lacking in firepower either and Thomas Tuchel has a dilemma as to which stars get to play. Neymar has just returned from injury to add to the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Edinson Cavani, Mauro Icardi, not to mention Angel Di Maria, though the German coach could end up with a lopsided team that’s very open if one of Idrissa Gueye, Marquinhos or Marco Verratti doesn’t start in midfield.

The Parisians have now gone four games without a clean sheet and away from home in Europe, they’ve struggled to keep the best teams at bay. 17 trips since the 2015/16 knockouts have yielded just five clean sheets, with four of these coming versus Celtic, Anderlecht, Galatasaray and Club Brugge. Of the last 13 of these, 10 saw at least four goals and with the visitors experiencing a wacky 4-4 draw with Amiens at the weekend, it’s not hard to see the case for a high output here.

Betting Strategy

BACK – Over 3.5 Goals at $2.08


Atletico Madrid v Liverpool

Liverpool come into this tie as clear favourites and it’s not hard to see why when considering their relentless form and the contrast with Atletico’s current dip. Diego Simeone’s chargers have won just one of their past seven outings over 90 minutes, drawing four of these, while they’ve been dumped out of cups by Real Madrid and Cultural Leonesa in half of those stalemates.

Atletico will be feeling the heat from the teams clustered right behind them in La Liga, but while their output hasn’t been up to scratch, the defence continues to deliver and the 17 goals they’ve conceded is second only to Real Madrid’s 16. A summer turnaround saw defenders Diego Godin, Felipe Luis, Lucas Hernandez and Juanfran all depart, though it would seem Diego Simeone’s blueprint remains intact.

22 of the Spanish side’s last 28 matches have now seen fewer than three goals, while at the Wanda Metropolitano alone it’s 10 of 12 as they never conceded more than once in a single game. However, few attacks in the world measure up to Liverpool’s and given Atletico possess just three clean sheets from their past 10 outings, with Kieran Trippier still sidelined, we wouldn’t expect the visitors to leave empty-handed.

Jurgen Klopp’s outfit are highly efficient at getting the job done, but they’re not typically thumping teams and have only scored more than twice on a single occasion across their past 11 matches. It took them 78 minutes to find a breakthrough away to Norwich at the weekend, but their defensive qualities are such that one goal is usually enough.

It’s now 11 clean sheets from 13 fixtures, where one of the exceptions came as a second-string side faced Shrewsbury in the FA Cup. However, it’s the attacking potential that largely sets these two teams apart and Atletico have now failed to net in four of their last seven games. When taking on elite sides Real Madrid (twice), Barcelona and Juventus in recent months, Atletico failed to score a single goal and lost three of them 1-0.

Alvaro Morata and Diego Costa may well make the squad for this game to boost Atletico’s prospects, though only the former has a good chance of starting and neither of those two have set Madrid alight on their returns to the city. Antoine Griezmann hasn’t been effectively replaced by wonderkid Joao Felix, who is ruled out of this fixture anyway, so it’s difficult to see Alisson and Virgil van Dijk letting anything past them.

Betting Strategy

BACK – Liverpool & Under 2.5 Goals at $3.10

Bayern Munich v Tottenham

Both these sides have changed their managers since last meeting at the start of October. However, after an encouraging start for Hansi Flick his Bayern team have lost their last two fixtures to Leverkusen and Gladbach, whereas Spurs appear a team on the up under Jose Mourinho, winning four of his first five games at the helm.

This encounter is of little consequence as Bayern have already topped the group and Spurs have secured second place, but the visitors will be keen to avenge the 7-2 thumping they received on their own patch.

Spurs are certainly in fine fettle going forwards, netting 16 goals under new management so far, but with just one clean sheet as they conceded twice in each of the other four games, this could well be another high-scoring affair.

The Bavarian giants are in a similar boat as they’ve netted in each of their last 21 matches now and two or more in 16 of these, but have also found clean sheets hard to come by.

As a result, there have been at least four goals in over half of their 22 matches this term, including nine of the past 15 as these all saw a minimum of three strikes.

Given each of Mourinho’s five matches have seen at least three goals, with all but one featuring five or more, while all five of Spurs’ European matches this season have seen at least four strikes, over 3.5 goals looks well worth backing.

Indeed, these are the two highest-scoring teams in this seasons’ Champions League, while four of the last five encounters Bayern have had with English sides have witnessed a minimum of four goals, averaging exactly five per game.

To further the likelihood of goals, Bayern have selection issues at the back with Niklas Sule and Lucas Hernandez ruled out, while Jerome Boateng is unlikely to be risked with this a dead rubber game.

That will force Flick into fielding the ageing Javi Martinez and the versatile David Alaba at centre-back together, but shifting the latter inside means playing young winger Alphonso Davies out of position at full-back once more where he can be exposed.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Over 3.5 at $2.00


Bayern Leverkusen v Juventus

Leverkusen’s destiny is out of their hands on Wednesday night, though to stand any chance of qualification nothing less than maximum points will do here. Juventus aren’t exactly going to roll over easy, though it’s little surprise the Germans start out as favourites for this clash.

Indeed, they’ve now won five of their last six unbeaten matches which has included victories over Shalke, Atletico Madrid and Bayern Munich, which is no mean feat.

The Old Lady were on a run of 13 victories from 14 matches, but have now just picked up one point from their last two games against Sassuolo and Lazio.

Defeat against the latter at the weekend saw them drop another point behind Inter domestically, and with Juve having already won the group, this is the perfect opportunity for Maurizio Sarri to rest some of his key players with four games still to play before their Christmas break.

The visitors’ injury crisis in midfield has deepened too. Rodrigo Bentancur went off with suspected ligament damage against Lazio last time out, Douglas Costa and Sami Khedira remain out for the Italian giants, while Aaron Ramsey is slight doubt and Adrien Rabiot has only just returned from injury.

Moreover, former Liverpool midfielder Emre Can isn’t even in their Champions League squad. With Kai Havertz returning from injury in recent weeks, the middle of the park could be an area of focus for the hosts here.

To further hurt Juve’s cause, Italian sides don’t have the best of records when travelling to Germany. The past decade has seen them lost 14 of 25 such games, winning just six, with Leverkusen themselves beating Lazio and drawing with Roma in the two games in which they were involved.

We’re happy to get behind the side with something to play for, taking on a weaker than usual Juve outfit at a healthy price at odds against.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Leverkusen to Win at $2.08


Redbull Salzburg v Liverpool

Liverpool’s draw with Napoli at Anfield on matchday five means their work is not yet done. They’ll almost certainly need maximum points to top the group, though a draw would be enough for progression, but there’s no room for complacency with Salzburg acquitting themselves well in this tournament to date.

The Austrian outfit has never reached the knockout stages of Europe’s premier competition, but across their three encounters with Liverpool and Napoli in Group E, they’ve lost by narrow 3-2 and 4-3 scorelines and drawn the other.

They’ve undoubtedly demonstrated their attacking prowess, spearheaded by the in-demand Erling Haaland, with their 16 goals far better than Liverpool’s tally of 11, as only Bayern (21) and Spurs (17) have outscored them across the groups.

Jurgen Klopp may have had his hand forced by a packed schedule, but he’s rotated and rested some players in their last couple of fixtures as they beat both Everton and Bournemouth by three-goal margins each. That should serve them well here and expect the German to field his strongest available line-up for this final group game.

Salzburg remains undefeated domestically this term and it’s noticeable that both losses they’ve suffered have come against high-quality opponents in Europe.

In pre-season, they lost encounters with full-strength Chelsea and Real Madrid line-ups, and the same outcome is the likely scenario against the reigning champions of Europe.

Although Liverpool has suffered numerous defeats on their travels in the Champions League since the start of last season, these were invariably against top-level teams.

Across all competitions, they’ve won every game this season bar a draw in the Community Shield with Man City, another with Chelsea in the UEFA Super Cup, a defeat away in Napoli, as well as further stalemates with Man Utd, Arsenal and Napoli. They’ve won their other 19 matches, and we expect them to rack up win number 20 here.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Liverpool Win at $2.14


Inter Milan v Barcelona

A superb Lionel Messi hat-trick and a masterful finish from Luis Suarez helped Barca on their way to a 5-2 success over Mallorca, extending their winning run to six matches across all competitions. Antonio Conte’s Inter Milan was held at home to Roma at the weekend, though Juve’s loss to Lazio has maintained the Nerazzurri’s position at the top of the table.

Simply put, the hosts will have to equal or better Dortmund’s result against Slavia Prague in order to progress to the last 16, though that won’t exactly be easy.

They are only W1-D3-L5 with the Spanish champions this century and with the likes of Messi and Suarez seemingly hitting some serious form of late, it’s difficult to envisage the hosts slowing them down.

However, there is hope for the Italian table toppers. Barcelona has only won two of their 11 matches at the San Siro since 2000, both of which came against Inter’s city rivals AC Milan. The Catalans drew three of four matches with Inter over this period and having already topped the group this time around, Conte will smell an opportunity, though it’s likely only maximum points will do.

Surprisingly, the ‘unders’ market offers up some interesting value. Despite the undoubted attacking quality at hand for the visitors, away from the Nou Camp they’ve not been quite as prolific in recent times when facing some of the bigger clubs in Europe.

Excluding 2-1 victories over Slavia Prague and PSV, four of their five away matches dating back to this exact fixture last year (which ended 1-1) have seen a maximum of two goals.

The only exception being that incredible night at Anfield, while Inter have seen fewer than three goals in five of their last six European matches at this venue, including all four that came in the Champions League rather than in the Europa League.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Under 2.5 Goals at $2.42

Valencia v Chelsea

It’s crunch time in Group H as all of Ajax, Chelsea and Valencia are tied on seven points apiece with just two games remaining, as the winner of this will have one foot in the last 16.

Valencia will provide a stern test for the Blues as they remain unbeaten at home in the league this year, although that run does include four draws from seven outings. In fact, those three such victories came over Mallorca, Alaves and Granada, all of whom currently sit outside the top seven in La Liga and aren’t quite up to Chelsea’s standard.

Frank Lampard’s charges have a notoriously strong record on the road under the tutelage of their former midfielder, winning seven on the bounce before going down in a spirited 2-1 defeat to Man City at the weekend, which doesn’t exactly set the alarm bells ringing.

Since the opening day, the English side may have only managed to shutout Ajax away from Stamford Bridge, though they netted at a least a goal of their own in each of their eight trips.

Indeed, they haven’t exactly been short on chances on their return to Europe’s top competition as only Bayern and Real have had more shots per game (spg) than the Blues’ 18, with Valencia conceding a whopping 19.3spg so far (fourth most in the competition) and the likes of Tammy Abraham and Christian Pulisic who’ve been heavily amongst the goals in recent times, will look to capitalise.

It’s hard to envisage Los Che keeping a clean sheet, an achievement they’ve only managed once in their last 10 games across all competitions, and with the visitors seemingly a better side on their travels, we like the price of them to continue their rich vein of form.

 BACK – Chelsea at $2.14


Barcelona v Dortmund

The 0-0 stalemate played out in the reverse fixture was the first head-to-head between these European giants in the Champions League, though back at the Nou Camp a very different story could unravel.

A pulsating game at the Westfalenstadion in the last matchday saw Die Schwartzgelben come from two goals down to overcome Inter Milan 3-2 in what was a crucial game in the outcome of this group, while Barca were held to a shock goalless draw hosting Slavia Praha, leaving this group still wide open.

However, the Catalans have won a whopping 16 or their last 17 unbeaten games at their home venue since going down to Girona in early March, with that only blip coming here against that Czech outfit, beating top-quality opposition in the form of Liverpool, Atletico Madrid, Man Utd, Valencia, Inter Milan and Sevilla in that time, all of whom could provide stern tests for the German visitors so they have a mountain to climb if they want to top his group.

Needless to say, the hosts are therefore heavy odds-on favourites for this clash, though there are more promising ways to get them onside.

Indeed, despite their spectacular goal tally of 27 from eight at home, defensively Ernesto Valverde’s men have been far from sound, leading to calls for the Spaniard to be relieved of his duties. They’ve conceded eight goals in as many home games this season, keeping just the two clean sheets.

Consequently, it’s no surprise that seven of these matches have yielded over 2.5 goals, with five seeing at least four. Meanwhile, 10 of Dortmund’s 12 league matches this campaign have seen the same over 2.5 outcome, while nine have seen at least 4, so we’re happy to go with the latter market at the prices.

 BACK – Over 3.5 Goals at $2.38


Juventus v Atletico Madrid

These two played out a draw when they met in the reverse fixture, though it’s Juve who have fared better in the intervening period. They lead Group D by three points heading into the penultimate game, while their record of 12 wins from 13 unbeaten matches since that encounter is vastly superior to the visitors’ W5-D8-L2 going back to mid-September.

Atletico have suffered from a lack of firepower, something made worse by the news that Diego Costa will be out until February, even if the Spanish international hasn’t been at his best in any case.

However, as ever, Diego Simeone has his charges well-drilled and even though he’s had to make do without a starter or two at the back in recent weeks, they’re still a tough side to overcome and have drawn four of their last five on the road.

The visitors have actually seen fewer than three goals in 11 of their past 13 matches now, and that should certainly contribute to a slow start here. In fact, the five head-to-heads between these two outfits since 2014/15 have produced just the single first-half strike, compared to nine across the second halves of those games.

Even that solitary goal in the opening periods can be explained away as Juve were on the front foot by necessity, having been forced out of their shell after a 2-0 loss in the first leg of their last-16 tie in Madrid last season.

That has been a recent phenomenon in both of these teams’ matches, with three and 12 goals in the first and second halves respectively across Atletico’s 13 road trips this term. Meanwhile, Juve’s four outings since the beginning of November have seen two goals and seven in the opening and closing periods.

The hosts have been level at the break in eight of their past nine matches now and with that in mind, the half-time draw appears well worth getting behind.

 BACK – HT Draw at $2.10


Real Madrid v PSG

Real Madrid have hit some good form in recent weeks, going W5-D1 across all competitions, while goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois went a whopping 535 minutes without conceding a goal in this run, before a calamitous error from skipper Sergio Ramos gifted Real Sociedad an opener this weekend, though Los Blancos proceeded to oust their visitors a comfortable 3-1.

As expected, PSG are comfortably leading the way in Ligue 1, and although they’ve been imperious on home soil, their away form leaves much to be desired. Indeed, they’ve already lost twice on the road in all competitions, while four of their seven such wins have come by just the solitary strike and when considering the opposition they’ve faced in that time, they look a far cry from their best.

The French champions do however have the opportunity to start Neymar and Kylian Mbappe together for the very first time this season, but with Mauro Icardi and Angel Di Maria in fine fettle, and the option of Edinson Cavani up top, Thomas Tuchel has a selection headache to deal with.

Whatever he decides, the array of attacking talent will surely bolster that 12 shots per game this group stage, though they’ll have to do a lot to match Madrid’s average of 20.8, while only Manchester City and Chelsea have conceded fewer per game than Zizou’s men (8.5).

Crucially, Marco Verratti will likely be missing for the visitors having missed Friday’s outing, as will Ander Herrera, while PSG have won their last 11 games with the Italian midfielder starting in both the Champions League and Ligue 1 and have a 79% win rate in such competitions since the start of last season, which drops to W4-L4 of their last eight without him and a win percentage decrease of 12%.

Therefore, at the odds and given the hosts have won both previous meetings with this Paris outfit at Santiago Bernabeu, we’re happy to back the home team to take the spoils.

BETTING STRATEGY

 BACK – Real Madrid at $2.42


Current Results

Total Units Staked: 12.00

Total Units Returned: 9.72

ROI: -19.01%

(Note: Each bet is for one unit). 


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