Champions League Preview Matchday 4

It’s a big week in the Champions League this week with some teams going for the win that would secure their place in the knockout phase of the tournament after Christmas. Others are trying to secure the points to make that a formality over the remaining two games following this week’s action, while others are still trying to make headway in their respective group.

So in this article, we are going to take a look at how things stand in each of the eight groups of the Champions League, as well as taking a look at how the games this week will pan out and what our top tips are for those games.

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Let’s now take a look at the games taking place in the Champions League across Tuesday and Wednesday evening’s this week on a Group by Group basis.

Champions League – Matchday 4

Group A

  • Paris St Germain v Club Bruges
  • Real Madrid v Galatasaray
Pos Team Pl Pts GD
1 Paris St Germain 3 9 9
2 Real Madrid 3 4 -2
3 Club Brugge 3 2 -5
4 Galatasaray 3 1 -2

It’s a relatively straightforward scenario in group A,  a win for PSG would confirm them in the next round of the tournament and they could also be confirmed as Group winners too, depending on the other result in the group. A win for Real Madrid paired with a PSG victory, would also put the Spanish side in a great position to qualify for the next phase.

Given both the odds on favourites have home games after winning on the road last time out against the same opponents they face tonight, it is hard to back against two wins here and given the odds are so short on both a PSG and Real Madrid win I would look for better value in the correct score markets, I’d back PSG to win 4-0 (17/2) and Real Madrid to win 3-0 (15/2).

Group B

  • Bayern Munich v Olympiakos
  • Red Star Belgrade v Tottenham
Pos Team Pl Pts GD
1 Bayern Munich 3 9 +9
2 Tottenham 3 4 0
3 Red Star Belgrade 3 3 -6
4 Olympiakos 3 1 -3

A win for Bayern Munich would confirm them as qualified, if Red Star Belgrade do not beat Tottenham in their game, but in truth, it would almost certainly ensure the German side progress to the next phase and they should win at home against Olympiakos, even if manager Nico Kovac was sacked on the weekend after a 5-1 defeat at Frankfurt. (1/6).

Can Spurs produce a similar performance that saw them beat Red Star 5-0 in London in Belgrade? The odds are against it given Spurs recent away form and how strong Red Star can be at home but I still feel Spurs will do enough to claim a draw (3/1).

Group C

  • Atalanta v Manchester City
  • Dinamo Zagreb v Shakhtar Donetsk
Pos Team Pl Pts GD
1 Manchester City 3 9 9
2 Dinamo Zagreb 3 4 2
3 Shakhtar Donetsk 3 4 -2
4 Atalanta 3 0 -9

A win for Manchester City puts them into the next round of the competition and would give Pep Guardiola the chance to rest some key players in their final two group games. Atalanta have not looked like they are capable of beating anyone in the group, let alone the team that are clearly the best team in the tournament at the present moment.

The other game is more interesting and after a solid draw in their away fixture against Shakhtar, I am expecting Dinamo Zagreb to be more clinical in front of goal on home soil to claim the win (6/5). City are a very short 1/2 to win against Atalanta.

Group D

  • Lokomotiv Moscow v Juventus
  • Bayer Leverkusen v Atletico Madrid
Pos Team Pl Pts GD
1 Juventus 3 7 4
2 Atletico Madrid 3 7 3
3 Lokomotiv Moscow 3 3 -2
4 Bayer Leverkusen 3 0 -5

Things are pretty clear cut in this group. A win for Juventus would see them qualify from the group regardless of how the Bayer v Atletico tie finishes. Similarly, a win for Atletico would qualify them, provided Moscow lose to Juventus at home.

However, the two favourites in this group both do have tricky away games against sides that have proven to be difficult to beat at times. As such, I think things won’t be quite so straightforward here and while I am backing Juventus to claim the win at 3/5, I do feel Atletico may find it tougher in Germany and I am backing the draw in this one at 11/5.

Group E

  • Napoli v Red Bull Salzburg
  • Liverpool v Genk
Pos Team Pl Pts GD
1 Napoli 3 7 3
2 Liverpool 3 6 2
3 Red Bull Salzburg 3 3 2
4 Genk 3 1 -7

Napoli’s victory over Red Bull Salzburg in Austria last time out does give this group a much clearer definition now and if Liverpool can repeat their win over Genk and Napoli do likewise over Salzburg then the Italian and Premier League sides would be the clear favourites to go through. Indeed a win for Napoli would see them progress for sure, if Genk fail to pick up maximum points at Anfield.

After two wins on the road for the top two in the group in their last two games, it is hard to see any other outcome other than a solid win for both at home against the same opponents and you can tell that the bookies feel the same with Liverpool’s odds being 1/12 and Napoli around 17/20.

Group F

  • Barcelona v Slavia Prague
  • Borussia Dortmund v Inter Milan
Pos Team Pl Pts GD
1 Barcelona 3 7 2
2 Inter Milan 3 4 1
3 Borussia Dortmund 3 4 0
4 Slavia Prague 3 1 -3

There’s little doubt that Barcelona should get the job done at the Nou Camp against a Slavia Prague side that they managed to beat in the Czech Republic the last time out, but the real story in Group F is who will be their main rivals after Inter beat Dortmund in Italy to take second spot in the table from he Germans.

Dortmund though have home advantage this time around and though their recent form is not that great, whereas Inter’s form is generally strong in Serie A, I do feel that the Italian teams do struggle when playing on the road in this competition and that could well be the case here. Barcelona are an easy pick at 1/6, and I’m backing Dortmund to take the win at 19/20 in a close one.

Group G

  • Zenit St Petersburg v Red Bull Leipzig
  • Lyon v Benfica
Pos Team Pl Pts GD
1 Red Bull Leipzig 3 6 0
2 Zenit St Petersburg 3 4 1
3 Lyon 3 4 1
4 Benfica 3 3 -2

There’s still plenty up for grabs in this group with the two top teams and the two bottom teams meeting once again this week. Benfica’s win over Lyon put them back in contention in the group, while Leipzig’s win over Zenit St Petersburg also put them back in with a real chance of making the knockout phase.

I do feel home advantage could well be crucial in both these games, but something tells me Zenit could be set for a shock from a Red Bull side that crashed 8 past Mainz at the weekend. I’m backing Lyon to beat Benfica (19/20) and for Red Bull and Zenit to battle out a hard-fought draw (13/5).

Group H

  • Chelsea v Ajax
  • Valencia v Lille
Pos Team Pl Pts GD
1 Chelsea 3 6 1
2 Ajax 3 6 5
3 Valencia 3 4 -2
4 Lille 3 1 -4

Chelsea’s win in Amsterdam last week has thrown this group wide open and Valencia’s draw in Lille doesn’t now look such a solid result. However, Ajax know a point against Chelsea this week would put themselves in a strong position, while Chelsea knows that they still have a tricky trip to Valencia to come over the final two games in the group.

I can’t see anything being decided in this group this week, but I do feel Valencia should pick up three points against Valencia (17/20) and if, as I suspect, the Chelsea v Ajax game finishes in a score draw (14/5), then this could well see all three teams with seven points with just two games to go.