September 16, 2019

UEFA Champions League Match Previews – 17th September Tuesday

Benfica v Leipzig

Portuguese giants Benfica are the only team from their nation to be competing in the Champions League. They have what looks to be one of the most evenly matched groups as they’re joined by Lyon, Zenit St Petersburg and Leipzig. It looks like it should be fun to follow and I expect goals to flow.

The well-backed Leipzig have attracted one of the most sought-after and promising coaches in Europe to the club in the form of Julian Nagelsmann. Nagelsmann took the job at former club Hoffenheim at just 28 years old, he was older than a lot of the players but was highly respected and even guided the relatively small Sinsheim based outfit to Champions League football last season. He was highly touted for the Bayern Munich job but has taken the reigns in East Germany with Die Roten Bullen. 

His game is one of high pressing, high tempo and high chance creation. It’s a forward-thinking philosophy that the fans and players alike are positively reacting to. Timo Werner and Yussuf Poulsen will cause all number of clubs problems up front with their collective arsenal boasting an array of different qualities. Marcel Halstenberg is one of the most underrated full backs in word football and he’s revelled playing in a slightly more advanced role in this 3-4-3 formation. There’s strength in depth too with Amadou Haidara, Ethan Ampadu, Ademola Lookman, Patrick Schick and Matheus De Cunha all on the bench in their 1-1 weekend draw vs Bayern Munich. 

Benfica recently suffered a surprise 2-0 reverse on their own patch against rivals Porto. Bruno Lage has seen his side largely be excellent at their Estadio De La Luz base, scoring freely and winning well. The standard of opposition is up a notch now though and they will be tested by this exciting RBL side. 

Raul De Tomas made the switch from Real Madrid after a prolific few years on loan at Rayo Vallecano and he will score goals for this team. Haris Seferovic has proven some doubters wrong with his good season last time out, Pizzi has been influential as ever in that midfield, popping up with 6 goals already this term. Florentino Luis and Joao Felipe look like the next cabs of the rank from their superb academy.

With little to go off in terms of sample size it’s hard to be supremely confident in any selection however Benfica will be targeting their home games for wins but they won’t have it all their own way, the visitors will be a threat. Leipzig have seen three or more goals in 3/4 games this season and given the high scoring nature of Nagelsmann’s Hoffenheim side we are already seeing some comparisons with this current roster.

We can back the over 2.5 goal line at 1.800 and it looks like a worthwhile bet whenever Leipzig are involved, I’d expect their goal lines to be 3 or higher this season.

Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Over 2.50 goals at 1.800

 Salzburg v Genk

Another Red Bull backed team peak the interest on Tuesday night, I fancy Austrian Champions Salzburg to win well as they welcome Belgian side Genk.

Genk have made some interesting moves in the transfer window with highly rated Ianis Hagi, son of Gheorge, making the move from Vitorul in Romania. Paul Onuachu has made the move from Midtjylland in Denmark and the 6ft 7 front man is likely to cause a lot of problems for teams. 

The ‘Smurfs’ have had a mix start to the domestic season, a win against an out of form Anderlecht was a highlight however they’ve lost three out of seven and those were against no great shakes in Charleroi, Zulte-Waregem and Mechelen. They face a tricky trip to one of the hardest places to get anything from this midweek.

It’s always difficult to gauge how teams who boss their own relatively poor league would cope on the European stage against stronger competition. However, we’ve seen plenty of Salzburg in the Europa league in recent times. Let’s not forget that they managed to get to the semi-finals of that competition in 2017-18. This is their first foray into the premier European competition though and they’ll be eager to make their mark on the biggest stage.

Their successful seasons mean there’s always interest in their players and managers and therefore player and staff turnover can be high but their scouting system is excellent and promising players can utilise them as an effective stepping stone before moving onto bigger things. It can’t be ignored that a great deal of their players end up moving to sister club Leipzig but that’s another story.

They’ve now got ex USA national team assistant manager Jesse Marsch as their head coach. It’s no surprise, he’s worked with New York Red Bulls, Leipzig and now Salzburg so he will know the set up, ethos and way of work at the club. They’ve started their Austrian Bundesliga campaign like a house on fire winning 7 out of 7 with each win seeing them cover a -1 handicap. 

Leeds-born Erling Braut-Haaland has come in from Molde and hit the ground running with 11 goals in 7 games. At only 19 that is a superb record, he’s no slouch physically and has to movement and finishing abilities that few of his age can match. Patson Daka, Takumi Minamino and Hwang Hee-Chan make up a very dangerous front 4 that will press high and cut off passing opportunities for their counterparts.

Remarkably, Salzburg are unbeaten at home in competitive games since 2016. In that run they’ve beaten the likes of Napoli, Lazio, Real Sociedad, Marseille, Club Brugge and Schalke. It’s a frighteningly good record on their own patch, one of, if not the best home records in Europe. A large proportion of their wins have been comfortable too and they’re available to back at 1.930 with a -1 start on the asian handicap and that appeals. A home win by two or more goals then we have a winner, a win by a single goal will see our stake returned.

Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Salzburg -1.00 at 1.930

Preview by: TomLove_18.

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