Champions League 2017/18: Match Day 1

UEFA Champions League 2017/18

Match Day 1

Manchester United v FC Basel

Wednesday September 13, 4:45am AEST

Man Utd face a Basel side that have lost their six most recent road trips to top-20 sides in Europe stretching back into 2013/14 (we have Man Utd ranked 18th), where they managed just the solitary strike whilst shipping a whopping 20 goals at the other end (3.3 gpg).

The Swiss outfit have also endured a rather less positive beginning to their campaign than Mourinho’s charges, winning just three of seven games in their defence of the Swiss Super League title so far (W3-D2-L2),  even drawing two of three winless games across their last three. However, they haven’t trailed at the break in any of their fixtures this term, and we think this leaves an opening to find some value in this one.

It was often pointed out last season that United dropped too many points at Old Trafford that hampered any title chances, and whilst given their strengthening over the summer we expect them to come through with a win, The Red Devils have been level at the interval in nine of their last 13 in Europe, including seven of their last eight against sides we have graded between 25th and 45th (we have Basel in 35th). Mourinho’s men have only managed one first half goal in their opening two home games, whilst they only just managed to take the lead before half-time at Swansea and went in level with Stoke at the weekend, and so we’re backing Draw/Man Utd in the half-time/full-time market.

Betting Strategy

Back on Betfair BACK – Draw/Man Utd HT/FT at 4.14

Chelsea v Qarabag FK

Wednesday September 13, 4:45am AEST

Chelsea return to European competition after their hiatus last term and they couldn’t have asked for a simpler assignment to ease them back in as they host Karabakh. This is the first time the Azerbaijani champions will be competing in the Champions League group stages but they struggled on the road in the Europa League last term as they suffered some heavy defeats, going down 5-1 at Fiorentina and 3-0 at Slovan Liberec. Chelsea will of course prove a much tougher test than either of those and with the Blues in excellent form now after a period uncertainty at the start of the season, we envisage this being pretty routine for Antonio Conte’s men.

Chelsea have an excellent home record in the Champions League, winning 17 of 23 games at the Bridge since 2011/12, whilst they led at the break in 19 of these. They’ve put up some big numbers in that time against lesser sides, beating Genk 5-0, Nordsjaelland 6-1 and Maribor 6-0 and we could see something similar here particularly as the Blues have been in good scoring form at the start of the campaign, with Morata hitting the ground running and Hazard now returning to fitness.

However, Chelsea do remain vulnerable at the back as they’ve kept just one clean sheet so far in the league and indeed just two in their last 10 at home. Karabakh managed to score in that defeat at Fiorentina and in a 3-1 loss at Spurs in the 2015/16 Europa League and so we’re going to avoid siding with the Blues on the handicap and instead back Over 3.5 Goals at 2.4, whilst Over 4.5 is also worth consideration at 4.33.

Betting Strategy

Back on Betfair BACK – Over 3.5 Goals at 2.4

Tottenham v Dortmund

Thursday September 14, 4:45am AEST

Spurs had a torrid time in Europe last term as they came 3rd in their Champions League group behind Monaco and Leverkusen while they were then dumped out of the Europa League at the last-32 stage by Gent. A lot of that can be put down to the Wembley factor as they lost there to both Monaco and Leverkusen and since they’ve shown no real signs of improvement at the home of English football this term, going down 2-1 to Chelsea and only managing a 1-1 draw against Burnley, they look on the short side here at 2.42.

They come up against a Dortmund side who have started impressively in the Bundesliga as they lead the way and are yet to concede. They in fact did the double over Spurs in the 2015/16 Europa League and are now managed by Peter Bosz, who led an inexperienced Ajax side all the way to the Europa League final last term. They look to have invested the proceeds generated by Ousmane Dembele’s sale shrewdly, bringing in yet more talented youngsters and they also have an impressive away record in the Champions League group stages: they’re W7-D3-L2 since 2012/13, scoring at least twice in nine of these 12 games.

They kept only three clean sheets themselves in these games and as a result there tended to be plenty of goals as 10 saw more than two while five had more than three, but they’ve looked a lot more assured defensively this term. As a result we’re going to avoid the goal markets, where the ‘overs’ prices are on the short side anyway, and stick with backing the visitors +0.25 on the Asian Handicap at 1.9.

Betting Strategy

Back on Betfair BACK – Dortmund +0.25 Asian Handicap at 1.9

Liverpool v Sevilla

Thursday September 14, 4:45am AEST

The last time these two came face to face was in the 2016 Europa League final, with Sevilla continuing the Spanish sides’ remarkable dominance of the tournament in recent years as they ran out 3-1 winners. Any team that has won three Europa League titles in four seasons and escaped the group stage of the Champions League in the other commands respect, especially as they’ve generally produced the goods on their travels in Europe too.

Excluding their uncharacteristic loss to Leicester at the King Power last term, Sevilla have drawn four of six unbeaten games away in Europe since March 2016, a spell that includes tough assignments at Juve and Lyon, both of which they drew. Contrast this with Liverpool’s W2-D3-L1 record hosting teams in the group stage over their last two European campaigns (Champions League 2014/15 and Europa League 2015/16), we think The Reds are too short to be backing at 1.7, especially off the back of a 5-0 trashing at the weekend. Instead, we think the draws offers the best value in two evenly matches sides.

Betting Strategy 

Back on Betfair BACK – Draw at 4.04

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