THE irrepressible Jack Wright (@JackWright_BSB ) is on-hand to preview Tuesday nights’s MD5 matches from the Champions League action not involving English clubs.
Lokomotiv Moscow vs Salzburg | 1st December 2020, 17:55 | BT Sport
Salzburg travel to Russia knowing only a win is good enough as despite drawing plenty of plaudits for their efforts in Munich last week having 20 shots at goal and forcing Manuel Neuer in to 11 saves, defeat there leaves the Austrians at the foot of Group A on a solitary point.
Jesse Marsch’s side will at least come into this crucial fixture in good heart having registered an emphatic 8-2 away win at the weekend with star man Dominik Szoboszlai registering a first hat-trick of the season.
In contrast Lokomotiv despite claiming a surprise point in Madrid last week come into this game with just one win in their last nine competitive fixtures.
Knowing a draw will pretty much secure a place in the Europa League, expect the home side to sit off here and be happy with the point with which they start the match. With a 0-0 draw back in domestic action following the one gained in this competition Marko Nikolic has now not seen his side concede for 315 minutes of competitive action and I am sure they will fancy their chances of extending that run by another 90 minutes.
However, in the aforementioned Szoboszlai Salzburg have a talent that can break down the most resistant of defences as his show reel of goal scoring free kicks is testament.
The 20-year-old will be all over any set piece situation that arises indicated by the fact that of the 34 free kicks, corners and penalties Salzburg have been awarded in the UCL so far, he has taken 30 of them. He also netted two penalties in the weekend rout of St. Polten.
Given referee Ali Palabiyik awarded two spot kicks in his only appearance in the competition to date, there is a chance the Hungarian international will get another opportunity from the spot here. So, I am more than happy to take the 5/2 on offer from Betfair for Dominik Szoboszlai to score at anytime and add to his current tally of four UCL goals in six appearances.
I was stunned Lokomotiv’s game with Atletico last week produced zero cards, however the Russians got back to their usual form by picking up three yellow cards in that weekend draw with Akhmat Grozny meaning they have clocked up at least 30 Booking Points in seven of their last eight fixtures.
With so much at stake in this one and with a referee who is averaging 68 Booking Points in the Turkish league this season I am going to play 30+ Lokomotiv Moscow Booking Points again at odds of 13/8 with Sky Bet.
Shakhtar Donetsk vs Real Madrid | 1st December 2020, 17:55 | BT Sport
Los Blancos will not only be out to avenge their shock 3-2 defeat at home to Shakhtar but also secure their place in the next round of the UCL with a victory here in the Ukraine.
Zinedine Zidane was at a loss to explain his side’s home defeat at the hands of Alaves on Saturday and he will demand a response from his troops not only to gain qualification but to take a small amount of pressure off his shoulders.
The home side are there for the taking, they peaked with that thrilling victory on match day one, and the three goals scored at the Alfredo di Stefano Stadium remain the only times they have found the net in the group, whilst conceding 10 times to Borussia Monchengladbach.
With no Sergio Ramos to lead from the front I am expecting midfield general Casemiro to step up and it is he I will focus on for both my selections in this tie.
As usual the Brazilian has been heavily involved whenever he has started for Real Madrid and has either scored or been booked in four of his last five starts in all competitions – he completed the double on Saturday with an 18th minute caution followed by a late consolation strike. Something he also achieved on MD2 with his injury time equaliser coming just four minutes after a yellow card.
The 28-year-olds reputation precedes him and with four yellow cards from eight league games as well as two in four UCL fixtures Sky Bet are taking no chances by making him odds on to find his way into the referee’s notebook again, William Hill have him priced at just 17/2 for the double so I can’t resist playing Casemiro to be carded and to score at the much better odds of 20/1 available with Betfair Sportsbook.
Unibet are also offering odds of 1/1 that Casemiro commits over 1.5 fouls – something he has done in four of his last five starts for his club.
Atalanta vs Midtjylland | 1st December 2020, 20:00 | BT Sport
Everyone’s favourite second team last year Atalanta have stuttered somewhat this campaign as illustrated perfectly by following their impressive victory at Anfield last week with a 2-0 reversal at home to Verona at the weekend – they have now only won twice in their last eight games.
La Dea have an excellent opportunity to claim three points and in turn a place in the top two of Group D with MD5 opponents Midtjylland yet to pick up a point and still smarting from a 4-0 drubbing in the reverse fixture.
Unfortunately finding value in this one is a tough ask with the bookies pricing up the home side as very hot favourites and expecting goals galore against a side guaranteed to finish bottom of the group, however, dig a little deeper and maybe we can find a couple of angles in that don’t just go against the expectation but have some statistical justification behind them.
Rather surprisingly for a side famed for its goalscoring and cavalier approach, Gian Piero Gasperini’s team have drawn a blank in the first half in seven of their last eight competitive home games, including both in this UCL campaign.
When we add the fact that the group whipping boy visitors have managed to go in at half time goalless in their two away games at Ajax and Liverpool, we can explore a surprising angle in on one of the goals lines.
With a small safety net of a refund if there is only one goal, I am taking a chance that pride will take over and Brian Priske’s side will look to keep things tight for at least a half. Bet 365 are offering odds of 23/10 for under 1 goal on the Asian first half goal line.
I can’t get away from the expectation Atalanta will win this one as much as anything their need to is just that much greater and so with prices very prohibitive on them winning and scoring goals – I’ll take a look at the other end of the field.
Pierluigi Gollini didn’t have a save to make at Anfield last week and there were only four attempts of any description from Jurgen Klopp’s men which shows just how well drilled the Serie A side were.
Although scoring in both games against Ajax, Midtjylland drew blanks against the two top rated sides in the group and as I have already mentioned with nothing to play for here amidst a busy domestic fixture list, we have to question how much threat they will carry.
Therefore, it was slightly surprising to see Boyle Sport offer odds against Atalanta keeping another clean sheet, 21/20 seems a very good price to me and so is my second selection.
Atletico Madrid vs Bayern Munich | 1st December 2020, 20:00 | BT Sport
Bayern have not only already qualified for the next stage of defending their Champions League crown but have guaranteed top spot in Group A, which has led to Hans Flick being able to leave Robert Lewandowski, Leon Goretzka, Manuel Neuer and Corentin Tolisso at home along with the injured Alphonso Davies and Joshua Kimmich plus suspended Marc Roca.
The Bavarians are of course on a record run of 15 successive UCL victories and still have the opportunity to become the first side to ever complete back-to-back 100% group stages but it seems with the increased workload for players this season due to the shortened campaign their health and wellbeing is being put before the record books. It is of course foolish to write off Bayern in any competitive fixture – well step forward Wrighty!
Sitting just two points clear of third placed Lokomotiv, the Rojiblancos will be desperate for the three points and in doing so gain some revenge for the 4-0 hiding handed to them by the German champions – a defeat which saw them concede twice as many goals in 90 minutes as they have done in nine La Liga games so far this season!
I just feel the Vicente Calderon isn’t the place you want to go with when there is more riding on the game for Diego Simeone and his men, especially with key personnel missing.
The value looks in the home win for a side with a formidable record in their own stadium, their last defeat in the UCL coming in 2017 against Chelsea some 17 games ago and are on a run of 20 competitive games unbeaten wining 15.
Novibet are best priced 51/50 for the Atletico Madrid home win.
Whatever the result I can’t see a repeat of the reverse fixture with four goals being scored and like both the last two meetings between these two sides here which ended in 1-0 victories for Atletico I am forecasting under 2.5 goals which can be backed at 6/5 with Betfair.
Marseille vs Olympiacos | 1st December 2020, 20:00 | BT Sport
Sorry Marseille and Olympiacos fans out there – this does not look a classic!
Marseille are on a competition record run of 13 consecutive UCL defeats while their visitors arrive in France having lost their lost three group games “to nil”.
Both sides can still qualify for European competition of some description with Andre Villas-Boas knowing his side will need to claim all three points here but for the Greeks it may be a case of avoiding defeat.
I backed 0-0 in the reverse fixture and was undone by 91st minute Koka strike – but I am going to try my luck again considering that goal is still the only time either side have found the net in this campaign.
As always rather than 0-0 back the no goalscorer option which means if an own goal decides a 1-0 game we still collect – best odds available are 15/2 with Bet 365.
Marseille have been collecting cards for fun in recent games picking up 4-5-4-5-2-3 yellow cards as well as a red in their last UCL outing – so I turned my attention to the referee in charge of this one – and it’s a good appointment – Jesus Gil Manzano.
The Spanish official averages 52 booking points per game this season which is slightly down on his lifetime average of 59 however, his one UCL game this season saw him show Leipzig four yellows and opponents Istanbul Basaksehir three.
Therefore, with a lot riding on the game and with what must be a growing tension around the ongoing UCL record I feel Marseille could overstep the disciplinary line and like the odds of 11/10 with Sky Bet for them to pick up 30+ points.
Borussia Monchengladbach vs Inter Milan | 1st December 2020, 20:00 | BT Sport
Gladbach have surprised many by taking this group containing not only opponents Inter Milan but also Real Madrid, by storm and a win here will see them through to the next round of the UCL.
Having fought back from a goal down to take a lead they only surrendered in the last minute at the San Siro this tie should hold no fears for a side that knocked 10 goals past the remaining member of the group, Shakhtar, without reply in their last two games in this competition and as a result only Bayern Munich have a better goal scoring average in the group stages.
Although they sit second in Serie A having only lost once in nine games Inter have fallen apart as soon as the UCL anthem plays and will need to turn their away form around in the competition having lost five of their last seven road trips.
Having drawn a blank in his last two games Antonio Conte will be hoping Romelu Lukaku will get back to scoring ways to keep his sides hope of qualification still flickering.
I feel that although there will be goals in this one Marco Rose’s entertainers will have too much firepower for their visitors and I am surprised to see them as the underdogs.
Therefore, odds of 2/1 with Bet 365 look a little slice of value.
One player I am continually impressed with and one who maybe doesn’t get the headlines he deserves is Florian Neuhaus.
When writing these pieces or just finding selections for my own betting the 23-year-old is one of my go to names – and he has scored twice in his last three outings – however it his combative qualities I will be promoting in this tie.
In most games you need to earn the right to play and also win those key battles, when you don’t have the football you need someone to get it back and Neuhaus is that man for Gladbach.
He completed five tackles at the weekend against Schalke as he replicated the number he reached in the reverse fixture with Inter and he will need to be in similar mood in what promises to be a fierce battle with Nicolo Barella. Who comes out on top there could have a large say in the outcome of this fixture.
Using Ladbrokes Bet Builder option, I was happy to see I could play 2+ tackles at 11/10.
Lokomotiv Moscow vs Salzburg – Dominik Szoboszlai to score at anytime (5/2 Betfair)
Lokomotiv Moscow vs Salzburg – 30+ Lokomotiv Moscow Booking Points (13/8 SkyBet)
Shakhtar vs Real Madrid – Casemiro to be carded and to score (20/1 Betfair)
Shakhtar vs Real Madrid – Casemiro to commit Over 1.5 Fouls (1/1 Unibet)
Atalanta vs Midtjylland – Under 1 First-Half Goal (23/10 Bet365)
Atalanta vs Midtjylland – Atalanta clean sheet (21/20 Boylesports)
Atletico Madrid vs Bayern Munich – Atletico Madrid to win (51/50 Novibet)
Atletico Madrid vs Bayern Munich – Under 2.5 Goals (6/5 Betfair)
Marseille vs Olympiacos – No Goalscorer (15/2 Bet365)
Marseille vs Olympiacos – Marseille 30+ Booking Points (11/10 Sky Bet)
Borussia Monchengladbach vs Inter Milan – Borussia Monchengladbach to win (2/1 Bet365)
Borussia Monchengladbach vs Inter Milan – Florian Neuhaus 2+ Tackles (11/10 Ladbrokes)