Our Andy Schooler previews Tuesday's cracking Champions League coupon, including Real Madrid v Spurs and Manchester City v Napoli.
Real Madrid v Tottenham (1945 BST, BT Sport 2)
This looks arguably the pick of the games on what should be a cracking night in the Champions League.
It provides Spurs with an opportunity to show just how good a side they are as they take on the European champions in their own back yard.
It certainly seems a good time for them to be playing this fixture. Mauricio Pochettino’s men have put a stuttering start to the campaign behind them with some highly-impressive away performances, complemented by an excellent 3-1 Wembley win over Borussia Dortmund in this competition.
Meanwhile, Real’s start to 2017/18 has hardly been disastrous but can fairly be described as disappointing by their high standards. In four home LaLiga games, they won just once and recently lost 1-0 at the Bernabeu to Real Betis – the first game in which they have failed to score in nearly 18 months.
Cristiano Ronaldo is yet to his straps either with ‘just’ five goals so far, albeit it four have come in the Champions League.
For once he will step onto the pitch not being the game’s in-form goal-getter, that accolade going to Harry Kane and 13/8 (SunBets) about the England man scoring at any time is certainly tempting.
It’s hard to see that price being available about Kane again this season and given he’s netted nine times in his last four away games for his club it’s probably worth taking.
Such is his form he may well only need one chance to deliver on this bet and it just seems too big to miss.
Real’s defence has undoubtedly improved but it is still far from impregnable as four clean sheets in 13 show. It will also be missing Dani Carvajal.
Also out is Dele Alli which will certainly be a concern for Spurs, although he also missed the wins over Dortmund and APOEL last month, and the visitors can also point to the fact they won’t be facing their old boy Gareth Bale, currently injured for the hosts.
With Christian Eriksen in fine form – plenty will be tempted by the 27/5 anytime goal price on offer about the Dane who has scored in six of his last nine for club and country – Tottenham do look capable of causing the hosts problems and if they do, Kane can sniff out a chance and take it.
Prediction: Real Madrid 2-2 Tottenham
Manchester City v Napoli (1945 BST, BT Sport 3)
Napoli find themselves the latest side in the path of the City juggernaut.
It surely won’t roll on forever though and if it is to come to juddering halt, then there must be a decent chance it will do so against a side who have won 11 of their 12 fixtures so far this season.
It’s a perfect eight from eight in Serie A for the Italian league leaders, their latest success being a 1-0 victory at Roma on Saturday night and they are just shy of 5/1 to claim another victory here.
Even a serious injury to big-money signing Arkadiusz Milik has not derailed them with Dries Mertens fulfilling the goalscorer role perfectly.
There’s also plenty of goal threat from the likes of Jose Callejon and Lorenzo Insigne, while Marek Hamsik’s creativity in midfield is another major reason why Napoli have earned the respect of some of Europe’s biggest guns in recent years.
Of course, City themselves are in sensational form and in the Premier League they’ve scored 17 times in their last three home games.
Significantly though they did find things much tougher against Shakhtar Donetsk in this competition three weeks ago, the Ukrainians giving them a real game before a 90th-minute goal finally put the match to bed. It ended 2-0.
It is with this game in mind that I’m put off some very short prices surrounding both goalscorers and total goals in the game – it’s only even money there are more than 3.5. If anything, I’d be tempted to go the other way given the Italians have conceded just eight goals in their 12 games this season.
Still, backing against City scoring lots of goals right now is clearly a risky business and this one looks a game to simply sit back and enjoy rather stake any hard-earned upon.
Prediction: Manchester City 2-1 Napoli
Maribor v Liverpool (1945 BST, BT Sport ESPN)
Liverpool will be added to plenty of accas on Tuesday night but I’d not want to back them at 1/5 to win any match, let alone one away from home in the Champions League.
Of course, we know they possess plenty of firepower, although it should also be noted they created and failed to take their chances against Spartak Moscow on matchday two, a result which means they have yet to win in Group E.
As the price shows, they are expected to pick up three points against the Slovenian champions, who are a pretty staggering 22/1 for a home win.
Managed by former Leeds boss Darko Milanic, the hosts are unbeaten domestically and have also avoided defeat in their last eight home games in Europe.
Clearly the level of opposition rises here but the fact they held Spartak to a 1-1 draw on home soil at the start of this group will give them hope.
I’m very much keen to side with Maribor in some way given Liverpool have been far from convinced in the opening two months of the campaign and the way to do it is to back them to score a goal.
Liverpool have managed just three clean sheets in 13 games so far this term and may well be feeling somewhat jaded after putting in a real shift in the goalless draw with Manchester United on Saturday.
They did plenty of huffing and puffing, albeit it to little effect, and it would be no surprise for Jurgen Klopp to rotate a few here. However, whoever plays, the pressure for three points is very much on given the start they’ve made.
You can get 6/4 (Sky Bet, William Hill) that Maribor find the net at any time and that looks generous. Even if Liverpool do what the bookies expect and score a few goals, there’s every chance Maribor will still be able to bag a consolation given how Liverpool’s defence has shown a lack of concentration on numerous occasions.
This looks a perfectly acceptable bet in this one.
Prediction: Maribor 1-2 Liverpool
Best of the rest
I’ve already mentioned how Shakhtar Donetsk put up a good fight at Manchester City last month and they look worthy of support when they head to the Netherlands to face Feyenoord (on BT Sport Extra).
The Ukrainians have already beaten Napoli in what promises to be a highly-competitive group but Feyenoord are looking the likely whipping boys, having already lost 4-0 at home to City.
Unlike Shakhtar, they had little answer to City and while a comparison of the two performances is somewhat childlike, on this occasion the quality of the two teams was brought into contrast by City.
I’ve long sung Shahktar’s praises in these previews and their ability to strike on the break has hurt many a team in Europe in recent years.
Facundo Ferreyra has nine goals already and will be tricky to handle, while in behind the creative Taison will provide chances and offer goal threat himself.
They are 5/4 to win this game which looks acceptable but I’m going to go for the higher price of 16/5 (Betfair) which you can get by backing them on the one-goal handicap line.
Feyenoord have lost both Champions League games so far by more than one goal (they also lost 3-1 in Naples) and the Dutch are clearly struggling right now with just two wins and four defeats in their last seven games.
De Kuip was a fortress last season with Feyenoord suffering just one defeat. They’ve already lost twice there this term and Shahktar have the quality to make it three.
Posted at 2140 BST on 16/10/17.