After a very poor weekend (after a great friday) we see the return of European Football for the next few midweeks, which is great as it means a bit of football on free-to-air TV! We are concentrating solely on the European football after a really low scoring set of domestic games last week. We have picked 10 games – with our usual 2 markets on each:
1. Chelsea Win @ 15/8 vs PSG (Win + BTTS @ 5/1)
Chelsea are in pretty great form, bar the odd blip in the FA Cup. The likes of Hazard, Oscar and Matic have been unplayable and with Costa returning from a 3 game ban nice and fresh – we think they will beat PSG. Ibrahimovic is having fitness issues, although he is now fully fit. Cavani and Lavezzi are in the bad books having turned up late for training last month after the winter break and were both looking to be sold. They are also looking fragile at the back, and showed that by conceding two in two minutes to draw 2-2 with Caen at the weekend. I think both will net, but Chelsea will prevail in a 2/3-1 win.
2. Bayern Win @ 2/5 vs Shakhtar Donetsk (-1 Goal @ Evens)
After suffering a huge loss at Wolfsburg, Bayern have come back strongly. 10 goals in their last 2 games – they seem in the mood. Guadiola will obviously be looking to get to the final again, and although Shakhtar posses a great threat going forward, they are questionable at the back when faced with quality opposition, which isn’t often in their league. They are still on their winter break, so fitness levels will not be at a fully competitive level. Easy Bayern win, -1 goal I’m thinking, maybe 3/4 goals and get the game sorted in the first leg.
3. Porto Win @ 7/5 vs Basel (Win + Under 2.5 Match Goals @ 3/1)
Basel managed to knock Liverpool out of the Champions League in their last outing! They are not a side to be underestimated, and although I say this – Porto should have a game on their hands, but I can see them winning in a close fought game. Under 2.5 Goals for me has around a 75% chance, with both being good at the back. We like Win @ 7/5, with the addition of Under 2.5 to that @ 3/1 a good risk.
4. Real Madrid Win @ 1/2 vs Schalke 04 (-1 Goal @ 21/20)
Real’s key men are not firing on all cylinders at the moment, and despite this they are mainly winning, bar a 4-0 thrashing by Atletico. Schalke, in their four games back so far after the winter break – have only had 5 goals in total (for and against). These two played each other in last seasons Champions League and ended 3-1 and 6-1 to Real, so -1 Goal is very much in our thinking. 1/2 for the win should be a given!
5. Inter Milan Win @ 11/8 vs Celtic (Win + Over 2.5 Match Goals @ 11/4)
Inter finally had a good win on the weekend against Atalanta, with Xherdan Shaqiri hitting form and the likes of Palacio and Icardi impressing. Celtic are in very good form, but its hard to take any form in their league seriously, as it’s a pretty bog standard league. We expect Mancini to take this competition seriously as it could lead to a European place next season, which is unlikely given their league position.
6. Olympiakos Win @ 17/10 vs Dnipro (Win to Nil @ 14/5)
The Greek Champions are in fantastic form, although like Celtic, their form is something to disregard. They were pretty good in the Champions League, causing all three of their opponents (Juve, At Madrid and Malmo) all kinds of problems and beat several of them. Dnipro are still on their winter break and have not played competitively for nearly 2 months. Olympiakos will be much better prepared for this game.
7. Ajax Win @ Evens vs Legia Warsaw (Win + BTTS @ 3/1)
Ajax are in a poor patch of form, but have played many of the top teams in their league (Vitesse, Twente, Feyenoord). Legia are fresh back off their winter break. In their two games since it ended they have drawn 1 and lost 1. They have lost a player or two – one youngster who was in their first team – to Arsenal. At home, Ajax should win against the Polish champs.
8. Tottenham Win @ 6/5 vs Fiorentina (Win + BTTS @ 9/4)
Spurs have not had a game in over a week. No FA Cup fixtures – this should mean Pochettino could well field a full side, with the winners of the competition getting a Champions League spot – which is probably easier than accessing it via the league. Kane, Vertonghen, Eriksen etc should all be included. Fiorentina are a good outfit, but always seem to concede, as do Spurs. Both have leaked goals in 4 of their previous 5 fixtures in all competition.
9. Villarreal Win @ 8/13 vs Salzburg (Win to Nil @ 7/5)
Villarreal have won their last 5 games at home, and to nil. Salzburg are one game in from their winter break, which was a simple 2-0 win over one of the poorest sides in the league. They have lost Mane and now Kevin Kampl to side from a bigger league – which shows the quality of player they are producing. However, I cannot see them beating Villarreal.
10. Wolfsburg Win @ 4/6 vs Sporting Lisbon (Win + BTTS @ 9/4)
Bar a 1-1 draw, Wolfsburg have been incredible since being back. 4-1 and 3-0 wins at home, and a 1-1 draw and 5-4 win away. The clear thing is they struggle defensively against stronger sides. Lisbon have also been leaking goals against very poor sides recently. 4 in 2 games against Belenenses, and one against Arouca. Both in good form then! A few of Lisbon’s players should cause Wolfsburg major issues. For that reason, we like Wolfsburg + BTTS @ 9/4.
Tips for both match results (from this preview) and also Jamie’s Goalscorer Tips should be up early tomorrow morning!