The Champions League returns on Tuesday and Tom Carnduff picks out his four best bets for the latest action.
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Lokomotiv Moscow v Bayern Munich
- 17:55 GMT on BT Sport 1
- Match odds: Home 14/1 | Draw 13/2 | Away 1/6
Bayern started their defence of the Champions League title with a convincing 4-0 victory over Atletico Madrid in Germany. As they travel to Russia to take on Lokomotiv Moscow, there's every chance we could see a greater score as they look to run up the goal difference alongside their points tally.
Lokomotiv's campaign began with a 2-2 draw at Salzburg and the 14/1 odds in their favour shows how unfancied they are here. Hoffenheim demonstrated that this Bayern team can be beaten, but the Bavarian giants bounced back from that with 23 goals scored in their six games across all competitions since then.
That includes a 5-0 thrashing of Eintracht Frankfurt last time out. With Bayern heavy odds-on favourites, and just 11/8 available on them scoring four or more goals, the value comes in the goalscorer market and Leroy Sane's 9/5 price for a goal anytime will look beyond attractive if he has a spot in the starting line-up.
The former Manchester City winger recently returned from injury and struck from the bench at the weekend. Despite missing games already, he has two goals and two assists in three Bundesliga appearances and Bayern boss Hansi Flick hasn't ruled out a start here.
Flick also revealed that Sane has been working closely with former Germany great Miroslav Klose to improve his finishing in front of goal. With that the case, and this Bayern side an attacking force that is the best in Europe, Sane should enjoy a prolific season across all competitions.
"He worked hard and did a few training sessions with Miro Klose, and that helped him," Flick said of Sane after the victory over Eintracht Frankfurt.
"We were all very pleased with his debut, so he can continue like this. You can see that he really wants to improve his fitness. We are very satisfied with his attitude and mentality."
Of course, even if Sane is on the bench we can't completely rule out a goal. My concern on the price available is that it could be cut as kick-off approaches but the winger has demonstrated the ability to both strike as a substitute and late into games. His goal against Schalke came in the 71st minute and the long-ranged effort against Frankfurt was scored just four minutes after coming on.
An advantage to that would be just how engaged Lokomotiv are in the contest if they are 4-0 down at the stage that Sane comes on but of course it would be preferable if he starts; there is every possibility of that happening as they look to get him back up to speed.
Bayern should win and win comfortably here and the concern for many of Europe's elites is just how difficult it appears to be to stop them. I don't even think it's worth adding Bayern to any accumulators, it won't add significant value, but the best outright option is the 13/10 on Bayern on the -2 handicap. Instead, target Sane in the goalscorer market.
Score prediction: Lokomotiv Moscow 0-4 Bayern Munich (Sky Bet odds: 17/2)
Best bet: Leroy Sane to score anytime at 9/5
- Lokomotiv Moscow and Bayern Munich have met twice previously, with both fixtures coming in the UEFA Cup in 1995-96. The Russian side won away at Bayern (1-0) before losing at 0-5 home in September 1995.
- FC Bayern Munich have lost only one of their 14 UEFA Champions League matches against Russian opposition (W10 D3), although that defeat came last time out versus FK Rostov in November 2016 (2-3).
- Lokomotiv Moscow have lost eight of their last nine matches against German opposition in all European competition, winning the other 2-1 at Bayer 04 Leverkusen in the Champions League last season.
- FC Bayern Munich are unbeaten in their last 13 away games in the UEFA Champions League (exc. neutral venues), since a 0-3 defeat at Paris Saint-Germain in September 2017 (W10 D3). It’s their longest such run in European Cup/Champions League history.
Marseille v Manchester City
- 20:00 GMT on BT Sport 2
- Match odds: Home 7/1 | Draw 4/1 | Away 4/11
Manchester City are struggling for consistency as questions surrounding Pep Guardiola's time at the club continue to grow louder. Victory over Porto in the Champions League was followed up by a draw at West Ham, that has left them 13th in the Premier League table after five games.
Tuesday takes them to a Marseille side who have been decent enough in France so far but were beaten by Olympiacos on Matchday One. They conceded eleven shots in that game and they should expect a high tally against when City visit.
Despite Marseille sitting fourth in Ligue 1, and conceding eight in their first eight games, they are a side who see a high shots against total. The 14.6 per game is the fifth-highest in France's top-flight and that should become an issue against a City side who see 16 shots taken per game in the Premier League.
One player who does provide good value in this area is Kyle Walker. The City full-back is priced up at 5/4 with Sky Bet to have at least one shot in this contest and that is more than achievable based on his record during the 2020/21 season.
Walker has seen at least one shot in four of his five league appearances so far. The one game where he fell short of the target was the 1-0 win over Arsenal; a contest where he was operating as more of a centre-back as opposed to a right-back.
In this competition last season, Walker made six appearances for City and posted a total of four shots. It's also worth noting that one of those appearances saw him come off the bench to play as a goalkeeper following Ederson's injury and then Claudio Bravo's dismissal against Atalanta, so the real average is four shots from five games.
He failed to post one against Porto but a contest against Marseille, who see that high shots against average, provides a platform for Walker to put at least one in this column. He's demonstrated throughout his time in Manchester that it is an element of his game, and while he may not be a regular scorer, he isn't afraid to try and find the net when the chance arises.
It's why Walker is available at a best price of 18/1 to score anytime. There's little interest in taking that based on his record but the 5/4 on at least one shot is too good to turn down. It's worth remembering that this counts for any effort that is deemed to be a shot, not just one that has to be on target.
City are the odds-on favourites but the best outright option is taking the double chance in Marseille's favour at 2/1. The hosts have lost just one of their four home contests this season while City have seen draws at West Ham and Leeds. However, the best bet comes in taking a shot on Walker at 5/4.
Score prediction: Marseille 1-1 Manchester City (Sky Bet odds: 17/2)
- Manchester City will meet Marseille for the first time in European competition.
- Manchester City have only won two of their previous seven UEFA Champions League games against French teams (D2 L3), going winless in each of the last four (D1 L3).
- Both teams have scored in each of Manchester City’s last eight UEFA Champions League fixtures, with the Citizens now on their longest wait for a clean sheet in the competition since between February 2015 & 2016 (9 matches).
- Marseille’s Dimitri Payet is still looking for his first goal in the UEFA Champions League, having attempted 32 shots without scoring in the competition (21 for Lille and 11 for Marseille).
Borussia Monchengladbach v Real Madrid
- 20:00 GMT on BT Sport ESPN
- Match odds: Home 11/4 | Draw 3/1 | Away 17/20
We usually focus on both English teams involved in Champions League action but with Liverpool so heavily fancied against Danish side Midtjylland, the search for value goes elsewhere and potentially the most entertaining game at 8pm as Borussia Monchengladbach welcome Real Madrid.
Madrid were stunned by Shakhtar Donetsk on Matchday One, completing a miserable few days as they were beaten at home by Cadiz in the game before. They did at least bounce back with victory against rivals Barcelona but a trip to Germany presents them with another tough test.
Despite experiencing a mixed start to the campaign, Monchengladbach have only seen defeat in one of their seven games across all competitions; that was also the only game where they failed to find the net. They will fancy their chances given Real's recent defensive record.
The Spanish side haven't kept a clean sheet in their last three outings and that run should extend to four here. Not only are Monchengladbach finding the net, five of their eight contests have seen them score two or more. Sky Bet offering 2/7 on 1+ goals for the hosts demonstrates how they are expected to strike again.
We usually look to goalscorers when goals are expected but this game presents value in the assists market; particularly with Marcus Thuram and Alassane Plea set to be involved again. They formed a fine connection last season and that has continued into the new campaign.
Jonas Hofman is 6/4 for an assist, a short price considering his impact so far, but Thuram and Plea are great options with Plea at 4/1 and Thuram at the slightly bigger 9/2. Thuram has four assists across all competitions this season while Plea grabbed an assist in the 2-2 draw with Inter.
Thuram is a player who doesn't seem to get the wider recognition he deserves, he had to use Google to prove who he was to a San Siro steward last week, but one of the world's great managers, Arsene Wenger, has previously given him high praise by comparing him to Thierry Henry.
"Technically, he (Henry) could do everything, however there is one player in the Bundesliga who reminds me of him -- Marcus Thuram at Borussia Monchengladbach," Wenger told magazine Spiegel (via AFP).
Thuram and Plea were a joy to watch last season and their connection was disrupted by Plea's injury. Post-lockdown, his final three assists of the 2019/20 campaign were all for Thuram's goals. It's 9/1 that Plea assists Thuram here while the reverse is 11/1.
But with the value on offer for either to grab an assist, it's worth a small play in backing both at the odds available. It could be another high-scoring contest as both experienced last week but Real, if back at full strength as they were at the weekend, should have enough to just edge the result.
Score prediction: Borussia Monchengladbach 2-3 Real Madrid (Sky Bet odds: 18/1)
Best bet: Alassane Plea to assist 1+ goals at 4/1
Best bet: Marcus Thuram to assist 1+ goals at 9/2
- This will be the fifth meeting between Borussia Mönchengladbach and Real Madrid in all European competition, with each side picking up one victory apiece (D2).
- Real Madrid are unbeaten in their last nine matches against German teams in European competition (W6 D3), since a 0-2 defeat to VFL Wolfsburg in April 2016. Indeed, they’ve never previously gone 10 consecutive such matches without defeat before.
- Borussia Mönchengladbach have won only one of their last 11 matches in all competitions against Spanish teams (D2 L8), winning 4-2 against Sevilla in November 2015 in the UEFA Champions League.
- Marcus Thuram has scored in two of his previous three home games for Borussia Mönchengladbach in European competition, although this will be his first home game for the club in the UEFA Champions League.
- Karim Benzema – who didn’t start in Real Madrid’s defeat on MD1 – has been directly involved in 19 goals in his last 21 starts in the UEFA Champions League, netting 14 goals and providing five assists.
Odds correct at 1200 GMT (26/10/20)
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