Champions League Breakdown: Part One

by Pub Sports Radio

Atalanta v Shakhtar Donetsk

In what is their first home match in the Champions League, Atalanta find themselves in the peculiar position of playing at San Siro, home of Inter Milan, 31 miles from their home stadium, Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia, due to not being compliant with UEFA stadium regulations. The Goddesses will host the three-time running Ukrainian Champions Shakhtar. Both of these sides come into this fixture on the back of two major losses. Last round Shakhtar lost 3-0 in Manchester, and Atalanta 4-0 against Dinamo Zagreb respectively.

In this match I fully expect Atalanta to respond to the thrashing they received in Croatia. This is an Italian side who can score goals at will being led by one of the best young forwards in Europe, Duvan Zapata. On the back of a 2018 campaign where Zapata scored 23 goals, he has backed that showing with an impressive 5 goals in 6 Seria A appearances this season. Behind him is Papu Gomez, a diminutive attacking forward who can pick up the ball from deep and run at the defense.

The opposing Shahktar side boasts a very impressive goal scoring record in their own right, but traveling 1,760 miles to Milan does not do the Ukranian boys any favor. Atalanta is an Italian side that can sit in and really frustrate the opposition. Their midfield duo of De Roon and Pasalic cover a lot of ground and really work well to screen their defenders.

Lean: Atalanta ML -127

Real Madrid v Club Brugge

Last round of the CL I made wagers involving both of these two sides. Here they are now facing off in Madrid where both are desperate to gather points. This is a match where Real should have nothing on their mind except walking out of the Bernebeau with three points. On the flip side, the Belgian league leaders come in boasting a fantastic away record. Anchored by one of the stingiest defenses in Europe, they look smash and grab a point from an injury-laden Real Madrid.

Real will be without key players Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez Tuesday night. This could prove costly, as the Spanish giants have lacked creativity at times this season. James has been an integral part of linking up the midfield with the attacking play. Bale will also be missed. In their loss to PSG he looked to be by far the most threatening player.

Brugge come into this match-winning five of six on the road this season. This is a well-coached and well-organized side. Ex-Liverpool man Simon Mignolet has revived his career by going home to Belgium. He has far and away been the best keeper in the league this year. He needs to stay focused here to squeeze out a point.

To wrap up this match I can see Brugge really digging in defensively and Real Madrid having a tough time finding the creativity to effectively break them down. Don’t get me wrong, I expect Madrid to win. I just think it could take them a while to get it going.

Play: Under 3.5 goals -118

Manchester City v Dinamo Zagreb

Topping Group C we have a Pep lead City side still trying to prove their metal in this competition. I am honestly not going to sit here and tell you all about what this side brings to the table, as it is evident of what this squad is capable of. A healthy De Bruyne goes a long way for the lads in Manchester.

Coming in we have a Croatian side that usually runs their league amok. This season however they sit second in the league table. Zagreb is a very, very strong team at home in one of the toughest places to go play in Europe, but on the road, this team is another story. Personally, I don’t see them hanging around at all and expect a thrashing.

Although Zagreb absolutely tarred and feathered Atalanta in round one, I think the bookmakers got this one about right with City sitting at -3. I am completely off this one. Not even a lean here guys.

Pass.

Galatasaray v PSG

Turkey is notorious for being an extremely overwhelming and difficult place for any side to travel to. Company that with the raucous fans that show up to the Telekom Stadium each week and you have a very interesting affair on your hands.

The Parisians come into this tie with momentum really starting to pick up in their favor.  A defiant win at the Parc de Prince against for mentioned Real Madrid was the catalyst they needed to turn things around. Neymar was an issue off the field all summer demanding a transfer, Mbappe picked up a knock early in the season, and questions were being raised about Tuchel and if he could really manage this side. Three weeks later and Neymar is scoring goals next to a smiling Mbappe, so all is well in the French capital. Watch out for PSG folks.

Galatasaray have honestly been very disappointing to open up their campaign. They have made some high profile signings that have yet to make a difference. With only 6 goals in 6 league matches, they are sure to find it difficult to score in this one. In the end, I still have a tough time going against any Turkish side at home.

Lean: Galatasaray +1.5 -112

Red Star Belgrade v Olympiakos

I truly believe this to be one of the best matches of the day. We have two historic clubs looking to make something out of this CL campaign. Honestly folks, I think these two teams are looking for one thing: three points.

Belgrade is perhaps the toughest stadium to travel to in the world. Just ask Liverpool who went into Red Star last year and left with their tail between the legs suffering a 2-0 loss to the 1991 European Cup winners. To get a goal away against the boys from Serbia is a monumental task.

Olympiakos were fantastic in the first round playing Tottenham to a 2-2 draw. In the Greek League that have been equally as good. Having not lost a game all season they look to carry that into the Serbian capital. As I feel with Turkish teams, the same goes with the Greeks, fade them away from home.

Play: Red Star pk +118

Juventus v Bayer Leverkusen

The Old Lady host the Kai Havertz led German side in a tasty second-round matchup between two top teams from their respective leagues. Juve continue their Italian dominance winning five of six in Serie A as Leverkusen chase top dogs Bayern Munich while only trailing them by one point in the Bundesliga.

Last round I expected Leverkusen to show up and put it to the Lokomotiv, but they looked beyond terrible. Defensively they were shambolic and could not truly take control of the match.

Juventus look to be a side that is gunning for the Champions League trophy. It is now or never to make use of Ronaldo as his clock continues to tick down. M man Aaron Ramsey has been fantastic behind the two forwards since he has came back from injury.

I expect Juventus to overwhelm the Germans and come out of this one with three points. I just can’t see Sarri taking this one easy will look to put this one away early. Fantastic odds we are getting here at Juve favored by just one goal. Convincing win coming for The Old Lady here.

Play: Juventus -1 +100

Lokomotiv Moscow v Atletico Madrid

Diego Simione and his men travel from the Spanish capital to Russia to face Group D leaders Lokomotiv. Second, in the Russian Premier League, Lokomotiv are looking to build on their impressive win against Leverkusen.

Honestly folks, I am going to make this one short and sweet. Atletico is too well managed and too good defensively to be worried about traveling all the way to Russia and drop points against this side. I do not see them piling in the goals but I can tell you one thing. There will most definitely not be three goals in this affair.

Lean: Under 2.5 goals -144

Tottenham v Bayern Munich

Everyone will be tuning into this one. You have the runner’s up in the competition last year hosting the best team in Germany.

Tottenham’s struggles this year have been well documented. Poch has failed to integrate new signings due to injury, and there are rumors that he is losing the locker room. Spurs’ inability to hold on to leads or take control of matches has seen them struggle domestically and in Europe.

Bayern are really starting to find themselves in my opinion. Contrary to Spurs, their new signing is really starting to click, especially Coutinho. The Brazilian is playing fantastic football over the past few matches and will be looking to really build upon that.

These two teams both do one thing really well. Score goals. When I saw the posted total at 3 goals I locked that in. We have a banker in London folks. I implore you to take over 3 goals here.

Banker Play: Over 3 goals -104

Thank you all for reading. Be sure you listen in to the BlokerJoker Podcast for EPL action.

 

-Cody Gehlhausen

@Squidspicks

 

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