This juncture in the Champions League group phase is an intriguing one, as the next pair of fixtures are the double-headers that ultimately determine who will progress to the last 16 of the continent’s most prestigious competition.
Six points here, or even four to be fair, is likely to propel the victor towards the knockout stage of the tournament, a healthy pay cheque and the chance to be crowned European champion. A negative set of outcomes could mean early expulsion from the competition, or – worse still – a backdoor entry into the Europa League.
So who will advance their claims on Wednesday night, and who will be left playing for pride in the weeks to come? Let’s take a look at the pick of the Champions League betting tips.
Arsenal vs Ludogorets (19:45)
Arsenal were always expected to progress from a group that also contains PSG and Basel, but a convincing pair of displays against Ludogorets will surely deliver six points and enhance their goal difference to the extent that they would become a heavy favourite to qualify as table toppers and thus secure themselves a generous seeding in the knockout phase.
They start that quest at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday, and having found a winning formula in the past few weeks the Gunners will be salivating at the prospect of a goalfest here.
The utilisation of Alexis Sanchez as a lone striker, in lieu of Olivier Giroud, has proven a masterstroke; Arsene Wenger’s side no longer need to pump long balls to a striker who is more adept when the ball is six foot off the ground. Theo Walcott is, perhaps, rather belatedly turning into the player we all expected him to be in his early twenties, while in Alex Iwobi we can say that Wenger has unearthed another gem – let’s hope he’s not an ‘Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’ sized dawn of false hope.
If we told you that Ludogorets have conceded in their last six Bulgarian Premier Division matches and shipped three at home against a PSG outfit that is considerably weaker now than 12 months ago, you might formulate an opinion in your mind about their capabilities. And that opinion is wholly justified – here’s a side that has conceded four goals in Champions League ties against Real Madrid and Basel in recent times, and that has to be the approximate target for the Gunners here.
Barcelona vs Manchester City (19:45)
Pep Guardiola returning to his spiritual footballing home will be the headline-maker here, but that should not detract from what *could* be a goal-fest of a contest.
Remove the hyperbole and the hipster-talk of ‘high pressing’ and inverted full backs, Manchester City simply cannot defend. How else can we explain the fact that they have conceded in seven of their eight Premier League matches, and three in a solitary match with Celtic? A trip to the Nou Camp, to tackle the Messi-Suarez-Neymar holy trinity, could prove catastrophic.
But then the Catalan side aren’t without their frailties too, having conceded in four of their last six La Liga matches; a run which includes four goals leaked in a single game against Celta Vigo.
If Kevin de Bruyne and Sergio Aguero, amongst others, bring their A game then they could make life very difficult for the fragile Barca backline; that’s assuming they see enough of the ball to make that a reality. Nevertheless, goals appear likely.
Over 3.5 Goals at 11/10 with Betfair
Bayern Munich vs PSV (19:45)
Life is all about timing; get that right, and you’ll be laughing. While nobody from PSV Eindhoven will be rolling in the aisles on the flight to Munich, they will at least have a weak smile to themselves knowing that, as far as a time to play Bayern at the Allianz Arena is concerned, this might be as good as it gets.
The hosts have won just one of their last four games, and that was a rather tawdry 1-0 victory over Hamburg. Otherwise draws with Koln and Eintracht Frankfurt, plus a defeat last time out in this competition to Atletico Madrid, suggest that all is not well in Carlo Ancelotti’s camp.
That’s not to say we think PSV will win this game – far from it, but as they showed in their 0-1 reverse to Atleti this is a team that should not be completely written off.
PSV +2 Asian Handicap at 10/11 with BetVictor
Celtic vs Borussia M’gladbach (19:45)
The Scottish champions have rallied well since their 0-7 horrorshow at the Nou Camp, and a sterling effort against Manchester City secured a much-deserved point.
That kind of atmosphere will be required from the Celtic Park faithful once again in what appears to be an eminently-winnable clash with Borussia M’gladbach, who are pointless in Group C so far and a lowly ninth in the Bundesliga having taken just one point from a possible nine on the road.
The Hoops are unbeaten in seven at home in this competition, and some legendary European nights at Parkhead – including victory over Barcelona in 2012 and that point against City last time out – suggest they can add to the list on Wednesday.
Celtic – Draw No Bet at 6/5 with bet365