Go for goals at the BayArena

  • By: Ben Coley
  • Last Updated: November 27 2013, 19:28 GMT

Ben Coley previews Wednesday's Champions League games and expects goals between Bayer Leverkusen and Manchester United.

Manchester United should be involved in a thriller
Manchester United should be involved in a thriller

The top two in Group A provide one of the more fascinating Champions League clashes on Wednesday as Bayer Leverkusen host Manchester United at the BayArena.

With United hosting current third Shakhtar and Leverkusen travelling to the struggling Sociedad in the final round of fixtures, a point would be far from disastrous for either side and my immediate inclination was to side with exactly that at a reasonable 12/5.

However, while that logic applies to an extent it's also possible that both managers will consider this something of a free shot at qualification, which both sides can seal with maximum points, and with neither worthy of trust at the moment the side markets provide the best opportunities for punters.

The pick of them is surely over 2.5 goals, which I'm really surprised to see chalked up at as big as 39/40 with BetVictor.

Simply put, everything we know about both these sides points towards a free-flowing game, packed with unstable defending and chances galore.

David Moyes could welcome back Nemanja Vidic after he missed Sunday's 2-2 draw with Cardiff, but he's been present for five away games in the Premier League and on each occasion United have failed to keep a clean sheet.

United have become strikingly poor at the back of late and for all his defensive reputation, Moyes's Everton had forgotten how to keep clean sheets towards the end of his Goodison Park reign, a managerial trait which has seemingly followed him to Old Trafford.

It's true that their last Champions League away game ended 0-0 but Sociedad have offered little in this competition and a more accurate guide would appear to be United's Premier League record. In five of their six away games there have been more than two goals scored, with the opposition finding the net in all six.

Leverkusen meanwhile are a free-scoring outfit who lie second in the Bundesliga thanks to an unbeaten home record which includes a draw with Bayern Munich.

Their last home game ended in a 5-3 win over Hamburg and five of their seven home games have seen three or more goals scored - the other two ended 2-0 and 1-1 to further underline that they just don't do tight, tense, goal-free games.

Combine this with the fact that the reverse fixture at Old Trafford ended 4-2 and that Moyes could welcome Robin van Persie back into the fold and goals look close to guaranteed. Certainly, a quote close to evens about over 2.5 looks extremely generous and rates the bet of the night.

I'm sure many punters will play the four-fold on Juventus, Manchester City, PSG and Real Madrid, which pays exactly 6/4 with BetVictor or a shade over 13/5 if you throw Bayern Munich into the mix.

The concern here would have to be that Juventus haven't won in four group games so far, while PSG saved bookmakers with a 1-1 draw against Anderlecht last time and don't strike me as a side to punt at short odds.

Instead, our recommendation is a small play on Benfica at a shade of odds-against.

The Portuguese side visit Anderlect in a game they need to win to stand a chance of reaching the last 16, and having dominated the reverse from start to finish they should prove too good.

Anderlecht can struggle for goals and with Matias Suarez out for the rest of the season with a cruciate ligament rupture, their attack is further blunted. They've already lost four times at home this season - it was April before they reached four home defeats last season - and have been generally outclassed in this competition.

Benfica's need is greater and they should be too good.

  • Posted at 1635 GMT on 26/11/2013.