September 17, 2019

UEFA Champions League Match Previews – 18th September Wednesday

Dinamo Zagreb v Atalanta

Two of the relatively smaller teams meet in the Croatian capital on Wednesday night and it’s the hipsters choice of fixtures. Atalanta were supremely impressive last season and have been for a while now under their astute manager Gian Piero Gasperini.

La Dea play an unusual formation but its one that gets the best out of their key players. Duvan Zapata was one of Serie A’s top scorers last season and after struggling to nail down a starting berth at Napoli he has thrived in Bergamo. Gasperini has clearly made an effort to go away from the temptation to play the Colombian as a target man and to use his physicality with his back to goal, instead Zapata is charged with meeting crosses and his predatory instincts have been shown off in the last couple of campaigns.

Behind him Josip Ilicic and Alejandro Gomez have freedom to roam and exploit gaps between opposition midfield and defence. Wing backs Hans Hateboer and Robin Gosens are charged with providing width and getting balls into the box. It’s all makes for a really good watch and they’re not going to alter their approach in the Champions League, I think they have the potential to bloody a few noses in this competition.

Dinamo Zagreb got past Hungarian side Ferencvaros in the in the second to last qualifier and they were ruthless in doing so, winning 4-0 in Budapest after a 1-1 draw on home turf. They then defeated Rosenberg over two legs to qualify for the group stages, in all fairness it was quite a fortunate route for the Modri.

To have any chance of getting out of their group you’d think they’d have this game as a possible ‘must win’. They can make it hostile at their Stadion Maksimir but on the face of it, it looks like a battle for second between themselves, Atalanta and Shakhtar Donetsk. They will get chances given the poor defence of Atalanta, the Italians have conceded in each of their Serie A games this season, leaking 6 goals. They have though scored 7, so it’s obvious where their strengths and weaknesses lie.

Dinamo have the likes of Dani Olmo and Bruno Petkovic going forward and they’ll be keen to build on their strong seasons. But ultimately I’m banking on Atalanta to make it an entertaining and end to end affair and with over 2.5 goals priced up at just shy of even-money it has to be worth taking. Rarely will you get a flat 2.5 line involving the Bergamo boys, 74% of their Serie A games last season did so, therefore when they rarely come about it would be rude not to.

Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Over 2.50 goals at 1.960

PSG v Real Madrid

This is probably the tie of round 1 along with Borussia Dortmund vs Barcelona and I expect these two heavyweights to serve up an entertaining game.

There’s been plenty of furore surrounding Neymar in Paris, the clubs Ultras made their feelings heard when they hosted Strasbourg at the weekend but it was the Brazilian star who saved their blushes, scoring an outrageous last minute winner with an overhead kick. I think with his ego, the hate from sections of the crowd will get him some much needed fire. He moved to PSG to get firmly in the reckoning for the Ballon D’or, well he’s going to have to perform in the competition if he wants to do so.

Thomas Tuchel has took a different method in terms of recruitment this season, bringing in much needed midfield steel in the form of Idrissa Gueye and Andre Herrera. That means they have a bit more balance and Tuchel can play Marquinhos in his favoured centre half role rather than shoehorning him into defensive midfield. Even with that added balance they could get drawn into a goal heavy game with Real Madrid coming to town.

The Galacticos have looked unconvincing so far, especially at the back and it’s understandable to see the hosts as 6/5 favourites given that. Zinedine Zidane is back in charge and goals were usually the way to go in games under him. This season Los Blancos have conceded in each of their four games despite only playing against Real Valladolid, Levante, Celta Vigo and Villarreal. 3 of those four games saw over 3.5 goals land and if they can resonate that form into the European stage then the 1.730 on over 2.75 goals looks more than worthy of a punt. 

With the attacking talent on show I’d be amazed if there was a clean sheet involved. Bale, Hazard, Benzema, Neymar, M’bappe, Icardi and co should serve up a goal filled game. This selection would see us profit should 3 or more goals be scored with a half stakes win should exactly 3 be scored and a full payout if there’s any more than that.

Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Over 2.75 goals at 1.730

Bayer Leverkusen v Lokomotiv Moscow

Another interesting side to watch in this competition is Bayer Leverkusen. Backed well by the pharmaceutical giant, Leverkusen have managed to sneak their way back into the UCL

and they too have a very attacking and open playing style under former Ajax manager Peter Bosz.

‘Boszball’ has made for some goal heavy games this season. Die Werkself went down 4-0 at Dortmund over the weekend and it was deserved as they gave up 3.51 expected goals. Their defence is a worry with brother Lars and Sven Bender playing in a back four when they’re naturally more versed as midfielders.

Going forward though they have a wealth of options with the likes of Kai Havertz, Leon Bailey, Lucas Alario, Karim Bellarabi, Nadiem Amiri and Kevin Volland all vying for a starting berth. Bosz usually plays with four of those attackers and it’s therefore no surprise to see three of their four games so far this season break the 3 goal barrier.

Lokomotiv Moscow are the visitors to the BayerArena and they’ve seen 5/9 games in the Russian Premier league have three or more goals. Joao Mario is there now and he provides much needed creativity, Portuguese teammate Eder is an option up front as is Fedor Smolov. Aleksey Miranchuk is another player who can provide some spark in the final third and the Parovozy will fancy their chances of exploiting the space that will be left in their attacking half.

Once again goals look the play, over 2.5 goal line can be taken at 1.750 and I’m confident you’ll make money backing that line over the season whenever Leverkusen are involved.

Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Over 2.50 goals at 1.750

Preview by: TomLove_18.

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