Football betting analyst Mark O’Haire shares his two favourite fancies from Matchday 6 of the Champions League this midweek.
It was a profitable weekend for my Insights column, even if Eibar and Getafe couldn’t put the icing on the cake. With Gladbach recovering from a goal down to overcome Bayern Munich, and Lazio taking top honours in a goal-filled game with Juventus, I was hopeful of a full house. However, three disallowed goals in Spain cost my third and final selection.
We’re back in business this midweek as the final round of group games from the 2019/20 Champions League takes place. Many of the qualification places are already confirmed but that doesn’t mean there aren’t two outstanding angles to exploit across the continent.
Goal Frenzy Forecast For Ukraine
Atalanta star Alejandro ‘Papu’ Gomez has labelled Wednesday night’s tie at Shakhtar Donetsk as a “Champions League Final” as the Bergamo boys bid to pull off the Great Escape. Rock-bottom and pointless after three fixtures, La Dea could clinch qualification for the knockout stages with a victory in Ukraine, if Dinamo Zagreb also fail to beat Man City.
Speaking after Atalanta had twice come back from behind to beat Hellas Verona 3-2 in stoppage-time on Saturday afternoon, Gomez said: “We really believe in our chances, we’ll take it on as a Champions League final, in or out. We’ll go there and give our all to win, playing in the Atalanta style with technique, physicality and everything.”
That’s encouraging for us goals-based punters.
Atalanta have often proven a goals-backers dream during the tutorship of Gian Piero Gasperini and La Dea have been thrilling to follow in Europe this term too, averaging over 2.10 Expected Goals (xG) per-game. Josip Ilicic might be a major doubt for the Italian outfit but they’ll still be well capable of creating.
Unfortunately for fans of the Serie A side, the defence hasn’t always been Atalanta’s forte. However, that vulnerability at the back is what makes Gasperini’s group so much fun to follow and
I’m amazed to see the goals line trading below an expected 3.50 here – with that in mind, backing Over 2.75 Goals has to a major play at 1.77 quotes.
Atalanta’s five Champions League games have averaged 3.60 goals with a total 4.26 xG per-game. And La Dea’s forward-thinking, winner-takes-all approach to the contest could (and should) play to the strengths of their hosts – counter-attacking specialists Shakhtar.
The Ukrainians earned an invaluable 1-1 draw at Manchester City on Matchday 5 to put themselves in a promising position to seal a Last 16 berth, although only a win will guarantee Luís Castro’s charges a place in the knockout stages with Dinamo Zagreb sitting just a solitary point behind the Miners.
Shakhtar did pinch an undeserved triumph in the reverse meeting at San Siro, stealing the winning goal on the break, but Atalanta twice hit the post in that match-up, as well as missing a penalty in a thrilling affair. A similar thriller is anticipated, especially in the aftermath of the Ukrainians’ 3-3 and 2-2 draws against Dinamo.
Indeed, exclude Man City from the equation and games involving Atalanta, Shakhtar and Dinamo in this pool have averaged 3.80 goals.
Home goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov has failed to keep a clean sheet in 24 Champions League starts, whilst three goals or more have been featured in 14 of Shakhtar’s last 17 group games. The group dynamics only increase the possibility of Wednesday night’s meeting extending that streak with an exciting shootout expected to be on the cards.
Inter To Dispatch Understrength Barcelona
Inter Milan are offered at an artificially short price on Tuesday night for their match-up with Barcelona. Why? Well, the Catalans have already ensured top spot in the pool and the Serie A side know maximum points are necessary to guarantee their place in the Last 16.
There’s little left for Barca to play for and their attention is unlikely to be on this San Siro showdown. Ernesto Valverde’s team have a tricky trip to Real Sociedad at the weekend before welcoming Real Madrid to the Camp Nou for the Clasico in seven days time and so widespread changes to the Blaugrana XI are anticipated.
Barcelona were in a similar position when hosting Spurs on Matchday 6 last season. Despite facing winnable La Liga fixtures with Levante and Celta Vigo following their Champions League outing, Valverde opted to rest and rotate his squad with Lionel Messi, Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets and Marc-Andre ter Stegen amongst the major changes made.
What’s more, the Catalans have been awful travellers at home and abroad in recent times. Barca were fortunate to leave Prague with a win, were second-best at Atletico recently, underwhelmed at Leganes and Getafe when taking top honours, and were dreadful at Granada, Levante, Athletic and Dortmund too.
The visitors have won just five of their last 15 away days in this competition – against Sporting Lisbon, Spurs, Slavia Prague, PSV Eindhoven and Manchester United – scoring more than a solitary strike only three times despite fielding their best XI in almost every encounter. So there’s plenty of reason to completely oppose the La Liga champions here.
Inter were terrific in the reverse match-up at the Camp Nou in defeat and should be well capable of causing this Barcelona side plenty of problems on Tuesday night. The partnership of Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez has really flourished and Antonio Conte’s troops deserve our backing with a -0.75 Asian Handicap hurdle at 1.85.
The Nerazzurri need the points in a match that doesn’t matter to Barcelona.
Taking this selection sees us make money should the hosts get the result they crave with a full-stakes pay-out ensured if Inter triumph by at least two goals.
- Over 2.75 Goals in Shakhtar Donetsk v Atalanta 5 units @ 1.78
- Inter Milan -0.75 – 4 units @ 1.85