The Champions League continues with eight games tonight. Celtic, Chelsea, and Manchester United all fly the flag for the British teams, and we're TOP PRICE GUARANTEED both teams on any match involving a British side. Paris SG host Bayern Munich in perhaps the evening's most glamorous tie but who'll star on the night?
Our man with a fondness for all things continental eschews the tapas for his meaty preview and offers up a smorgasbord of tidbits and tips that could see a tasty return.
The Constant Vanden Stock Stadium welcomes Celtic as, in all honesty, the two teams will battle it out for a Europa League place in a group that includes Bayern Munich and Paris SG. Both teams suffered demoralising defeats in matchday one and will want to claw back a little confidence in this fixture. Better teams than Anderlecht will be beaten 3-0 at Bayern, but coupled with their poor start to the season boss Rene Weiler was shown the door. Interim boss Nicolas Frutos knows that his charges, who have conceded two or more goals in five of nine matches, have their work cut out against a Celtic team who like to play off the front foot under Brendan Rodgers. Add in the fact that Anderlecht are without midfielder Sven Kums (suspended), and could also be without the sevices of main target man Lukasz Teodorczyk, which is a double blow to their ambitions. They have won two-in-two under the new boss, however so don't expect them to lie down for Celtic...
Celtic are virtually imperious domestically, having reached the League Cup semi-finals and beaten arch rivals Rangers 2-0 at Ibrox on Saturday in the Old Firm derby. However, if there is a chink in Celtic's armoury it is that they can be open at the back on the road in Europe. They fell to a 4-3 defeat against Astana in the play-offs, despite beating their Kazakhstan opponents 5-0 at Paradise. One sliver of relief for Rodgers is that he welcomes back both Dedryck Boyota and Moussa Dembele, which is quality at both ends of the pitch, though Erik Sviatchenko is still missing for the Hoops.
What We Sayin’?
Tougher to call than one might imagine, this one. A lot could depend on the fitness of Lukasz Teodorczyk who will be a real threat if he plays. Equally, Dembele, Scott Sinclair and Leigh Griffiths will all fancy taking on Anderlecht right now and there could be goals galore in this one (click on the banner below for details of our Just a Second Champions League Special).
With this in mind, we're plump for Griffiths 1st GS 4/1 | Both teams to score and Celtic win 5/1 | Celtic 1-2 10/1
Atletico welcome Chelsea to their sparkling new home, the Estadio Wanda Metropolitiano and it will be interesting to see if it remains quite the fortress the Vicente Calderón was. Diego Simeone's men were extremely difficult to beat, being likened to the Arsenal of old, with the chant of "1-0 to the Atletico" being the norm (we suppose). Their new home, a 67,000-seat beauty adds to the spectacle, and despite this being the first Champions League game it will have held, Atletico are unbeaten thus far there: winning both games played. They are in form, with three straight wins, including Saturday's 2-0 beating of domestic rivals Sevilla, dangerman Antoine Griezmann notching yet another fine goal. Indeed, Simeone's team are unbeaten this season and lie second in La Liga. Expect to see both Filipe Luis and Fernando Torres line-up against their former employers.
Chelsea, the English champions, will arrive in a confident mood: after the opening day shock against Burnley, Conte's men have come out all guns blazing, seemingly scoring goals at will. They bashed Qarabag with six of the best in their Champions League opener, with Pedro, Davide Zappacosta, Cesar Azpilicueta, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Michy Batshuayi all netting for the Pensioners. They're not just flat track bullies, however: unbeaten in seven, they smashed Stoke on Saturday, putting four away without reply - no mean feat away to the Potters. Morata, Chelsea's star signing and the replacement for Diego Costa, who has actually signed for Atletico, bagged his first Chelsea hat-trick in that win and the striker will have fond memories of Atletico himself, having started his career as a junior there. Conte may be without David Luiz, who is carrying a slight injury, but 'keeper Thibaut Courtois should be okay after a clash of heads at the weekend.
What We Sayin’?
Another tough game to call. Both sides will be bullish about their chances, and both arrive in good form. Both have fantastic firepower, and both mean defences. Could they cancel eachother out? Possibly! A 0-0 draw is 13/2, a punt we wouldn't be too amazed to see come in. However, we can see a couple of goals in this: 1-1 is 5/1, whilst Morata to score first is 5/1, Griezmann 4/1.
From Russia with Love for Jose's men? Maybe, maybe not! The VEB Arena can be an intimidating venue at the best of times and the passion certainly shoots up on Champions League nights. The Russians beat Benfica 2-1 away in their opening fixture and a partisan crowd will get right behind their boys in the hope they can spring another surprise. However, they don't come into the game with the best of form behind them. They beat Rostov 2-0 at home, were knocked out of the Russian Cup and drew with city rivals Dinamo Moscow on Saturday. The home support will certainly be a factor if they hope to get anything out of tonight's fixture, though their record of 6 losses in 14 home games will be a worry for boss Victor Goncharenko, who will also be without tricky winger Aleksandr Makarov for the clash. Alan Dragonev remains a threat: can the player once touted as a world star roll back the years tonight?
Jose's United, and let's face it, this is his team, come into the game absolutely buzzing. Their ONLY defeat of the season came in the UEFA Super Cup reversal against Real Madrid (a fixture many will argue doesn't count) and with seven wins and a draw under their belt since then (24 scored, with just 3 conceded) they'll believe they are a atch for anyone at the moment. Lukaku, who scored in the 1-0 weekend win at Southampton is averaging a goal a game at the moment, but United do have scoring prowess from all over the pitch. It will be interesting to see if Jose meddles with a backline that has only conceded three as both Eric Baily and Phil Jones return from suspension. Zlatan and Pogba remain sidelined through injury.
What We Sayin’?
Jose may once have referred to his team as 'little ponies' but his thoroughbreds should have too much for Moscow's 'Konis' (horses). We'll take Lukaku as first GS at 3/1. We'll also have United 0-3 with Lukaku scoring last at 33/1. BTTS (NO) and United win is 7/5.
When two tribes go to war... Two of Europe's big guns square up in arguably the pick of tonight's fixtures as five-time European Champions visit the Parc des Princes Arena stadium in a bid to derail what is fast-becoming a runaway train as Paris SG continue to back manager Unai Emery to land 'old big ears' for the very first time.
Emery guided Sevilla to three consecutive Europa League triumphs and can boast an attacking line-up of Mbappe, Cavanni, and Neymar, MCN if you prefer. The French giants have lost just one of their last 24 Champions League games at home, a 3-1 loss to Barcelona in 2015, and come into the game full of confidence, despite a six game winning streak coming to an abrupt halt with the weekend's 0-0 draw against Montpeiller. That, in part, could have been done to the absence of both Angel Di Maria and Neymar who will return to the fold for Paris SG tonight. The French outfit, who finished second to Monaco last year, have only lost three times in 13 games against German opposition, will be without Javier Pastore, who remains injured, while Newcastle old boy Hatem Ben Arfa seems to have fallen from grace once again after impressing last season.
If Paris SG are in fine form, then Bayern Munich are... well, it's hard to judge. They sit three points behind Dortmund in the Bundsaliga and drew 2-2 against Wolfsberg at the weekend, despite leading 2-0. Sven Ulreich had a nightmare but it is hard to see that coach Carlos Ancelotti will drop him, given the 'keeper's experience and the fact that Manuel Neuer remains sidelined, but the experienced Italian is starting to feel a little pressure, as the supporters look for consistency from his side. Bernat remains injured, and Thiago Alcantara is a doubt, but the German champiuons could welcome Arturo Vidal back into the fold: his willingness to fight perhaps key against this enterprising and creative Paris SG side.
What We Sayin’?
The two sides have met six times previously, with Paris SG winning four and Bayern two. The home side usually has the edge, and Paris ran out 1-0 winners the last time the two met in Paris. There's too much firepower on show for this to be a low-scoring game, but Bayern don't trouble well, whilst Paris SG's record is there for all to see. That in mind, we'll take BTTS (Yes) Paris win: 2/1. Neymar and Lewondoski both to score 1st (see StanJames Just a Second money back offer) at 4/1 each. Finally, we'll plump for paris to make a statement of intent, following-up their 5-0 thrashing of Celtic with a resounding 3-1 win here: 10/1.
OUR FEATURED ACCA
A £10 punt on our featured bets: Paris to win 3-1 | United 0-3 Lukaku first GS | 1-1 Atletico v Chelsea | Celtic 1-2 10/1 currently returns £224,400*
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