The third gameweek of the Champions League 2018/19 is upon us, and for some of the English sides it really is a case of all or nothing.
Anything but victory for Tottenham will all but see them dumped out of the competition, while Liverpool and Manchester City could both also give up authority in their groups with less than three points.
There’s plenty at stake even in this early juncture of the tournament, so where do the best Champions League betting tips lie this week?
Manchester United vs Juventus (Tuesday, 20:00)
The return of Cristiano Ronaldo to Old Trafford will naturally take the headlines ahead of Tuesday’s clash.
But in reality, the most intriguing narrative might just be how United perform on the night.
For the second game running, this time against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, they showed plenty of fight despite going a goal down, and while questions will be asked as to why the players only come to the party when their backs are against the wall, it does at least show that they are willing to roll their sleeves up for beleaguered boss Jose Mourinho.
Mind you, if they go a goal down to Juventus they will have their work cut out – the Italians are the masters of protecting a lead.
The Old Lady have been in peerless form this term, winning both of their Champions League matches to date and going unbeaten in Serie A (W9 D1 L0).
Manchester United & Juventus Form Comparison
|Premier League||Champions League||Serie A||Champions League|
The only chance Mourinho’s men have got is if they attack here, like they did at Chelsea. If they park the bus they will get picked off by this talented Juve side, but if they play on the front foot they might just get a result – as Tottenham were so close to doing against the Italians last season.
With that in mind, it’s not a punt we’d normally take in Mourinho’s matches, but here it appears as though there might be legs in backing Both Teams to Score at 20/23.
Shakhtar Donetsk vs Manchester City (Tuesday, 20:00)
If you cast your mind back to last season you might just recall Shakhtar Donetsk beating Manchester City in a Champions League game.
That should be caveated though: the match was a dead rubber, with City resting players having won all five of their group games in the competition, and also plenty has changed since then.
The Ukrainians lost some of their most talismanic figures in the summer, including Fred, Bernard and Facundo Ferreyra, and so their carousel of bringing through young, largely Brazilian talents starts again.
That arguably hasn’t affected them, as they sit top of the Ukrainian league and they are unbeaten in Group F; albeit a pair of 2-2 draws with Hoffenheim and Lyon.
Donetsk is a tough price to go, too, and in the past year on home soil they have beaten the likes of Napoli, Roma and Feyenoord.
Shakhtar are priced at 7/1 with the bookies, and such a lack of confidence opens doors for punters. Back the hosts with a +1.50 Asian handicap at 10/11 – even if they lose by a single goal, the bet lands.
PSV vs Tottenham (Wednesday, 17:55)
Having lost their opening pair of group matches, Tottenham desperately need a result here.
Unless they win in Holland, the Londoners will be a minimum of five points behind the top two in Group B, and that would require some effort to qualify given that their remaining fixtures would include a trip to the Nou Camp.
They have been cruelly side-tracked by injuries to key figures, including Dele Alli and the now returned Christian Eriksen, and a pair of 1-0 wins in their most recent Premier League outings does not instil great confidence.
89 – Welcome back, Christian!
⚒️ #WHUFC 0-1 #THFC ⚪ pic.twitter.com/6jdSjc3Xzz
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) 20 October 2018
At least PSV aren’t up to match. Yes, they top the Eredivisie table with nine wins from nine, but as routinely happens they struggle to make the step up to elite level, losing against both Barcelona and Inter Milan thus far.
Spurs are available at Evens here, and while they should win those odds really don’t hold much appeal.
Instead, it’s time to plunder the Anytime Goalscorer market. Cometh the hour, cometh the man: Harry Kane can be backed at 4/5 here, but a player we like is Lucas Moura, who looks generously priced at 12/5 to find the net at any point here.
Liverpool vs Red Star Belgrade (Wednesday, 20:00)
Liverpool’s tepid 1-0 win over Huddersfield on Saturday should not necessarily alter punters’ thinking ahead of this clash with the Serbian outfit.
Jurgen Klopp rested players against the Yorkshire outfit, and had others playing despite arguably needing a rest following their exploits during the international break.
Presumably, injuries permitting, the likes of Mane, Firmino and Wijnaldum will come back into the starting eleven, and so the Reds will be somewhere near their best.
Red Star are one of those Eastern European sides who must be terrifying to face away from home; their supporters creating a, erm, ‘hostile’ atmosphere.
But when it’s their turn to travel clearly the fear factor diminishes, and then they become a rather ordinary side; a 1-6 thrashing at PSG testament to that.
Red Star’s Away European Fixtures This Season
|11th July||Spartaks Jurmla||Draw 0-0|
|1st August||Suduva||Win 2-0|
|14th August||Spartak Trnava||1-1 Draw (2-1 win aet)|
|29th August||RB Slazburg||Draw 2-2|
|3rd October||PSG||Loss 6-1|
So it should be comfortable for Liverpool here, and that is reflected in their 1/14 price which renders pretty much every market untouchable.
This might be one of those matches where you have to take a gamble in all senses of the word, so how about a Draw/Liverpool forecast in the Half Time/Full Time market at 4/1.