WeLoveBetting.co.uk’s Mark O’Haire picks out two bets from Champions League GW6. First, we’re off to Anfield…
Liverpool v Napoli
The Champions League group-stages concludes this midweek and matchday six couldn’t be
more beautifully poised in Group C with Liverpool, Napoli and PSG all vying for a place in the
knockout stages. The stakes couldn’t be higher at Anfield where Premier League leaders
Liverpool welcome Serie A challengers Napoli for a winner-takes-all showdown.
The obvious angle here is to support goals and plenty of them. Over 2.75 Goals is backable
at 1.66 and I’d be happy supporting this selection right down to 1.60 – it’s difficult to
imagine this match failing to produce heaps of goalmouth action due to the delicate
dynamic of the pool.
Liverpool know a 1-0 win, or a two-goal victory by any scoreline will send them through.
Buoyed by a famously vociferous Champions League crowd, the Reds tend to start these
sorts of fixtures on the front foot and should they score early, Napoli will be forced on the
offensive. If the Italians strike, we could easily be in for a basketball-style shootout.
Jurgen Klopp’s troops have been chalked up at 1.65, which holds little appeal. The
Merseysiders have received plenty of plaudits for their improved defensive efforts, although
it’s worth noting that Expected Goals suggests Liverpool should have conceded more than
twice their six-goal tally in league action this season.
Considering Joe Gomez is absent from the hosts backline, Napoli will be encouraged at
finding a way through the Reds defence. Indeed, PSG scored twice here in September, whilst
Liverpool have given up at least four shots on-target in all bar one of their five Champions
League outings – the exception their runaway home success over Red Star.
The Anfield outfits matches on Premier and Champions League duty are only averaging 2.62
goals-per-game, but xG has that figure at 3.03, whilst at their Merseyside base, the figure
rises to 3.26. The home side should have their first-choice front three available on Tuesday
night and they’ve only twice fired blanks in 10 years here on Champions League nights.
Visitors Napoli were able to rest and rotate their XI for Saturday’s walkover 4-0 win over
Frosinone and Carlo Ancelotti’s men have impressed for large swathes of the campaign. the
Partenopei haven’t been beaten since a spirited 3-1 reverse at Juventus at the beginning of
September and were the better team in both meetings with PSG.
The Serie A side have scored in nine of their past 10 away days in the Champions League,
only failing to net in Red Star when Napoli fired in 19 shots (nine on-target) and generated
an xG tally of 1.84. In fact, the Partenopei have won the xG count in all five of their group
games, firing in at least five on-target attempts in all three duels with PSG and Liverpool.
The Italians have a poor recent history for winning on the road in Europe, but they head to
Anfield in confident mood and I don’t see them going down without a fight if they do. This
selection will have turned a profit in 16 of Liverpool’s 19 encounters in this competition
under Klopp and should have a great chance of landing once the deadlock is broken.
Barcelona v Tottenham
Tottenham need to match or better Inter Milan’s result at home to PSV Eindhoven to pull
off a remarkable qualification coup. Having picked up a solitary point from their opening
three fixtures, Spurs have fought their way back into contention for a top-two finish with
Visiting the Camp Nou is never a straightforward task, although Mauricio Pochettino and
away supporters will be hoping the Catalans take it easy on Tuesday night with top spot in
the pool already secure. Even so, Barca boss Ernesto Valverde refused to say whether he’d
rest Lionel Messi and co for this clash, a move that would give Spurs a fighting chance.
Looking at the Blaugrana’s schedule, the hosts aren’t back in action until Sunday night in
Levante. However, Levante is the venue with which Barcelona lost their unbeaten La Liga
record on the penultima week of last season and perhaps Valverde will priorities that trip
and make alterations to his first XI. At this stage, it’s difficult to know.
I’m willing to bite and bullet and take what’s an extremely generous pre-match price
on a home victory here (2.15). It’s very difficult to ignore the Catalan giants at odds-against
quotes considering they were chalked up at 2.05 for the Clasico here earlier this season,
were as short as 1.75 against Real Madrid and 1.66 versus Atletico Madrid at the Camp Nou
In fact, under Valverde, Barca have been 1.50 or shorter in home Champions League games
against Inter, Juventus, Chelsea, and Roma, so seeing 2.15 available is just too good to turn
down for a club that’s returned W26-D2-L0 as hosts since 2013. The Blaugrana have scored
87 goals in that sample, never shipping more than once at an average of 0.46 per game.
Spurs rested Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen on Saturday and will certainly offer a threat in
the final third. Pochettino’s posse have scored in all bar two of their past 60 matches,
although doubts remain over their defensive efforts. The visitors are giving up 1.40 xG per-
game in the Premier League and Champions League – a pretty poor return.
What’s more, Tottenham are enjoying just a 51% xG ratio when playing away this season,
whilst over the past two years since returning to this competition, their only road victories
have come at CSKA Moscow, APOEL and Dortmund. The Londoners have failed to succeed
at Inter, Juventus, PSV, Real Madrid, Monaco, and Bayer Leverkusen.
I’m therefore happy opposing the narrative – Barcelona with ‘nothing to play for’ and Spurs
‘needing the win’ – by snapping up the unusually bulbous price on a home success.
- Liverpool v Napoli – Over 2.75 Goals (1.66)
- Barcelona v Tottenham – Barcelona to win (2.15)
Podcast – Mark O’Haire joined Brodders and Phil to preview GW6 of the Champions League. Listen below and search for the Matchbook Betting Podcast on your preferred podcasting app.