Football betting analyst Mark O’Haire picks out his favourite fancies from matchday four of the Champions League.
I was pleased to come out in profit from a trappy weekend of European football. Streetwise Getafe were to smart for beleaguered Celta on Sunday, whilst Eintracht Frankfurt took advantage of Bayern Munich’s early red card to dismantle the German giants, a result that led to head coach Niko Kovac leaving the Bundesliga champions on Sunday evening.
Unfortunately, Trabzonspor failed to deliver the full house. The Turkish team drifted like a barge overnight into Friday following news Daniel Sturridge would be absent and the hosts were well below-par before rallying after the interval when a goal down. The overall performance matched the market move and the selection was a deserving loser.
We’re back on the horse on Tuesday night. As well as a collection of selections outlined on the Matchbook Champions League podcast, there are two more goals angles worth exploring from Europe’s premier club competition.
Goal-Heavy Game In Naples
Napoli head Group E after three rounds of matches, sitting a point and place clear of pool favourites Liverpool at the halfway stage. With the Reds enjoying an open goal encounter against Genk at Anfield on Tuesday night, the Partenopei know picking up at least a point from their home outing against RB Salzburg could prove pivotal in their quest to qualify.
Carlo Ancelotti’s outfit pinched a 3-2 success in Austria a fortnight ago. As seems to be standard when both Napoli and Salzburg take to the field, goalmouth action wasn’t in short supply in a breathless, end-to-end encounter. However, RB can rightly feel aggrieved by the final score having comfortably won the Expected Goals (xG) battle 2.71 to 0.88.
Dries Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne were in clinical mood in Salzburg but Napoli have failed to kick-on in recent weeks. Sloppy stalemates against Spal and Atalanta followed before a disappointing defeat at Roma on Saturday, piling the pressure on Ancelotti to guide this group into the knockout stages of the Champions League having missed out 12 months ago.
The odds certainly suggest Napoli are capable of clinching the required result, and Salzburg’s defensive woes could prove to be the Austrians’ downfall (having leaked at least two goals in all three UCL group-stage outings thus far).
Nevertheless, Die Mozartstader pack a mighty punch of their own, implying a goal-heavy thriller could be on the cards.
Expect Jesse Marsch’s men to take the game to Napoli. Salzburg’s unrelenting, fast-paced, high-pressing style unnerved Liverpool at Anfield and gave the Partenopei numerous headaches in the reverse contest. Only Bayern Munich and Real Madrid are attempting more shots in this competition and you’d fancy Die Roten Bullen to get on the scoresheet.
Norwegian wunderkind Erling Haaland – the UCL’s leading goalscorer this season – is fit enough to feature and will be ably supported by South Korean ace Hwang Hee-Chan and Japanese forward Takumi Minamin. The trio have the pace and craft to trouble a cumbersome Napoli backline, although defensive injury issues haven’t helped the guests.
Salzburg head south with first-choice goalkeeper Cican Stankovic unavailable. With Alexander Walke already out injured, 22-year-old Carlos will start between the sticks. Meanwhile, left-back Andreas Ulmer is also rated doubtful having missed the weekend’s win at Mattersburg, leaving an already brittle backline looking weaker.
Considering the group dynamics, the style and systems employed from both sides, plus the track record for goal-heavy games, it’s difficult to dismiss another high-scoring shootout on Tuesday night.
Over 3.5 Goals is a 1.95 shot and will probably go off a lot shorter.
A High-Scoring Bout At The Bridge
Few of us fancied Chelsea to topple Ajax in Amsterdam a fortnight ago but what made the Blues’ triumph even more intriguing was the sheer lack of goals and open play opportunities created by the Dutch giants. Frank Lampard’s team were clear and deserving victors to roar back into contention for top spot in Group H.
Now back at Stamford Bridge, there’s an expectation on the youthful Chelsea outfit to make their mark again.
However, pre-match odds-on quotes make little appeal despite the hosts racking up eight wins from their last nine outings across all competitions.
Ajax remain an exciting force to be reckoned with and tend to produce their most eye-catching displays on the road in the Champions League during Erik ten Hag’s reign. The Amsterdam club have overcome Real Madrid, Juventus, Spurs and Valencia in games as guests over the past 12 months and are overpriced to repeat the feat on Tuesday.
Chelsea have returned only W3-D2-L2 in front of their home supporters this season with Lampard’s team seeing off Grimsby, Brighton and Newcastle, the weakest three visitors they’ve entertained. The Blues have failed to take top honours against Valencia, Liverpool, Man Utd, Leicester and Sheffield United under the current regime.
I anticipate a forward-thinking approach from Ajax and with the Netherlands’ side scoring at least twice in eight of 10 away days this term – keeping out their hosts on only three occasions – goals actually look like our best value play.
Ten Hag’s adventurous team will offer plenty but can also be exposed if opponents are capable of playing through their high press.
Chelsea have the tools to hurt Ajax here and with this selection providing profit in eight of their 11 Premier League encounters already, there’s enough evidence to suggest a repeat could be on the cards this midweek.
Taking a high-scoring contest is preferred.
- Over 3.5 Goals in Napoli v Red Bull Salzburg 2 units @ 1.95
- Over 2.75 Goals in Chelsea v Ajax 2 units @ 1.78