Mark O'Haire: Back Young Guns Nagelsmann & Henry To Step It Up In GW3

11 min’s Mark O’Haire picks out two selections from GW3 of the Champions League.

Hoffenheim v Lyon

Tuesday night’s tussle between Hoffenheim and Lyon should be a great watch and it’s difficult not to make a case for a goal-filled game in Germany.

The hosts are enjoying their maiden Champions League campaign, and whilst still winless after two matchdays, there’s plenty of positives for Julian Nagelsmann’s men to take. Die Kraichgauer were minutes away from holding Manchester City here at the Rhein-Necker Arena and really should have left Shakhtar Donetsk with more than just a 2-2 draw in their opener.

Julian Nagelsmann’s team play with the handbrake off.

The Sinsheim side were impressive in Ukraine – winning the shot and Expected Goals count – and kept Man City at bay for large swathes of their 2-1 defeat. Considering the village club were in the midst of a major injury crisis for both encounters, few could argue Hoffenheim were anything but competitive.

Treatment table issues have eased in recent weeks with captain Kevin Vogt returning to the heart of defence, along with Ermin Bicakcic also returning to the fold. With key bodies available again, I’d expect Hoffe to again put in a wholehearted effort as they seek to a first Champions League success.

Saturday’s 3-1 triumph at Nurnberg saw English youngster Reiss Nelson score twice as Nagelsmann’s troops came from behind to claim a valuable three points and that contest extending their streak of successful Both Teams To Score winners since the start of the campaign.

Indeed, Hoffenheim have delivered BTTS profit in all 10 outings this term, whilst goal-hunters have seen nine Over 2.5 Goals and five Over 3.5 Goals pay-outs.

The home side have produced a 3.40 goals per-game average with the xG average sitting at a hefty 3.53 – very convincing figures if we’re looking to attack the Overs.

What’s more, at the Rhein-Necker Arena under Nagelsmann, 30/50 (60%) Bundesliga and European fixtures have broken the Over 2.5 Goals barrier, with 19 (38%) also surpassing the three-goals line. Hoffenheim have scored in all bar two of those tussles with 32 (64%) seeing Both Teams To Score bank.

Visitors Lyon are in a strong position in the pool having stunned the continent by winning away at Manchester City in their curtain-raising contest. However, Les Gones failed to back it up when second-best in a 2-2 draw at home to Shakhtar Donetsk, a match that was played behind closed doors in France.

This man is a massive loss to Lyon

The absence of key playmaker Nabil Fekir is an obvious blow for the away side, although Bruno Genesio’s attack-minded charges have enough firepower to hurt Hoffe. On Friday night against Nimes, the Lyon boss fielded Martin Terrier and Moussa Dembele up front in a 4-4-2 diamond system with Memphis Depay in the number 10 role.

It wasn’t completely convincing – Terrier is normally a wide player – and whilst Lyon won 2-0, their second didn’t arrive until stoppage-time. Arguably most alarming though was the concession of 22 shots at home against a newly-promoted side. Indeed, the guests are yet to convince as a defensive unit.

Les Gones have recorded only four shutouts in their 12 outings in 2018/19

These shutouts came against Amiens, Strasbourg, Dijon and Nimes – and Genesio’s group are giving up an average of 1.30 xG per-game in that sample, with the total xG tally standing at a chunky 3.24.

So there’s plenty of encouragement for a high-scoring game on Tuesday. Both clubs prefer playing on the front-foot and neither can lay claim to a strong or solid backline, suggesting Over 2.75 Goals is well backable at 1.70 quotes.

Club Brugge v Monaco

Thierry Henry goes in search of his first victory as Monaco manager on Wednesday night as the principality club pop across the border to meet Club Brugge. Les Rouges et Blancs fell to their eighth defeat in 11 winless matches on Saturday at Strasbourg and a repeat hear will all but end their hopes of Champions League progression.

A match made in heaven?

All that could go wrong for Monaco did go wrong in Henry’s opener. Les Monegasques went behind to a silly goalkeeping error, lost Radamel Falco to injury before half-time, saw Aleksandr Golovin miss a sitter, Monaco had a goal ruled out and then had substitute Samuel Grandsir sent off two minutes after he arrived on the field. It was far from plain sailing.

Nevertheless, the 2016/17 Champions League semi-finalists dominated the xG and shot count and felt hard done by at the final whistle. That’s been a familiar tale for Les Rouges et Blancs domestically with the French side posting performance data that’s good enough to be inside the top-seven Ligue 1 sides.

Viewing all of Monaco’s league and Champions League matches this term, the visitors have generated an xG figure of 1.35 per-game. However, Les Monegasques are only averaging 0.92 goals per-game. Similarly, the 2017 champions are conceding 1.67 goals per-game despite giving up 1.34 xG. Combined that’s a rather significant 0.76 goals per-game.

Defenders Andrea Raggi and Jemerson were both banned on Friday and should return to the fold here, although Falcao remains a major doubt. Even so, there’s enough quality in midfield and in the final-third to believe Monaco are capable of picking up at least a point in Brugge, where a +0.50 Asian Handicap start can be supported at 1.76.

Falco is set to spearhead the attack against Bruges

Henry started Golovin, Nacer Chadli and Stevan Jovetic behind Falcao in a 4-2-3-1 system at Strasbourg with Youri Tielemans and Jean-Eudes Aholou operating in the shielding roles in front of the defence. Despite the major changes in personnel over the past 18 months, that’s still an able XI that’s been underrated by the pre-match markets, in my opinion.

Club Brugge have lost each of their last eight Champions League group games and come into this clash having lost four of their past seven across all competitions. The Belgians gave Dortmund a stern test in their opener here but the hosts offered little as an attacking threat, preferring to sit back.

On Friday night they Brugge held by Beveren at home – they did more than enough to win that match – and having relinquished control at the top of their domestic table, are starting to feel the pressure. The odds imply they hold a 46% chance of winning this tie and that feels a little kind so I’ll happily oppose them here.

Recommended Bets

  • Hoffenheim v Lyon – Over 2.75 Goals @ ~1.70
  • Club Brugge v Monaco – Monaco +0.50 @ ~1.78

Mark joined Phil Kitromilides and Paolo Bandini to preview GW3 on the Matchbook Betting Podcast. If you’re already subscribed, search for ‘Matchbook Betting Podcast’ on your preferred podcasting app.