Free betting tips and match previews: Champions League action on Wednesday September 18

Our best bets for the latest Champions League action
Our best bets for the latest Champions League action

The Champions League continues on Wednesday with two heavyweight clashes at the top of the billing. Tom Carnduff looks at the betting.


Recommended bets

2pts Atalanta to win and both teams to score at 16/5

2pts Niklas Sule to score anytime in Bayern Munich v Crvena Zvezda at 7/1

For details of advised bookmakers and each-way terms, visit our transparent tipping record


Dinamo Zagreb v Atalanta

Duvan Zapata (left) and Marten De Roon celebrate Atalanta's winner
Duvan Zapata (left) and Marten De Roon celebrate Atalanta's winner

This won't be at the top of many 'go-to' lists given the calibre of the fixtures on Wednesday night but there is value to be had for the clash in Croatia.

Atalanta are making a rare appearance in Europe's elite club competition following a campaign that saw them finish 3rd in Serie A last season.

They also finished runners-up in the Coppa Italia; making it their best campaign in the club's 105-year history - although you could make a case for the 1962/63 season which saw domestic cup success.

Atalanta have a fantastic chance of progression in Group C too. Manchester City will be the runaway leaders but there's a three-way battle below that between these two sides and Shakhtar Donetsk.

Goals are a characteristic of this Atalanta side. They were the top scorers in Serie A during the 18/19 season, but conceded the second-highest amount of any of Italy's top-six sides.

The games this season have seen over 2.5 goals, with two victories and one defeat (3-2, 2-3, 2-1). A continuation of action in front of goal means Atalanta games are going to be ones you want to watch for the next eight months.

In Zagreb, they face a team who have hit the net in all six of their Champions League games so far, with the Croatian champions having to qualify through three rounds before reaching the group stage.

The away side should be too strong here and can wrap up victory. With goals a real possibility, it's worth taking the 16/5 on offer for an Atalanta win with both teams scoring in the contest.

Best bet: Atalanta to win and both teams to score at 16/5

Opta facts

  • This will be the third competitive meeting between Dinamo Zagreb & Atalanta. The two previous encounters took place in October 1990 in the First Round of the UEFA Cup (0-0 in Italy then 1-1 in Zagreb).
  • Dinamo Zagreb vs Atalanta will be only the third UEFA Champions League match between a Croatian and an Italian club: the previous two were in the 2016-17 Group Stages when Juventus defeated Dinamo Zagreb 4-0 away and 2-0 at home.
  • Excluding qualifiers, this will only be Atalanta’s 30th match in European competition and their first in the UEFA Champions League/European Cup (11 x Cup Winners’ Cup, 10 x UEFA Cup and 8 x UEFA Europa League).
  • Dinamo Zagreb have lost each of their last 11 consecutive Champions League matches; their joint-worst ever run in the competition. Only one side has ever lost 12 consecutive Champions League games; RSC Anderlecht between December 2003 and November 2005.
  • Dinamo Zagreb’s Group Stage campaign in the 2011-12 UEFA Champions League season is the worst-ever in the competition: 0 points from six games and a -19 goal difference. They also won 0 points in the 2016-17 Group Stage but managed a marginally better goal difference of -15.
  • Of teams to have played over 30 matches in the UEFA Champions League, Dinamo Zagreb have the worst goals conceded average in the competition (2.19 per game).
  • Just three of the nine Italian clubs to have participated in the UEFA Champions League before Atlanta have won their opening match in the competition: Milan in 1992, Juventus in 1995 and Udinese in 2005.
  • Atalanta have lost just one of their last 14 matches in European competition (inc. qualifiers), winning seven (D6).
  • Atalanta boss Gian Piero Gasperini has managed only one Champions League match in his career; losing 0-1 against Trabzonspor in September 2011 as Internazionale boss.
  • Bruno Petkovic was directly involved in more goals in last season’s Europa League (5 – 2 goals, 3 assists) than any other player for Dinamo Zagreb, with Petkovic also the top scorer for the Croatian side in Champions League qualifying this season with four goals.

Atletico Madrid v Juventus

Atletico Madrid celebrate a goal against Eibar
Atletico Madrid celebrate a goal against Eibar

The first of the two 'heavyweight' clashes sees Atletico Madrid take on a Juventus side fancied by many for success in this competition.

We're looking elsewhere though, with the 22/1 price on Atletico lifting the trophy backed in our outright preview.

You can read that full piece here, but the explanation behind the recommendation points towards the changes made in personnel over the summer:

Atletico have gone agonisingly close to a Champions League trophy on two occasions under Diego Simeone. The first being in 2013/14 and then again in 2015/16 where they reached the final.

Both games ended in defeat in the final, both of those defeats were handed to them by Real.

In the three seasons since, the showings we've seen from Atletico have not reflected those of the quality squad they have possessed.

The round of 16 defeat to Juventus last season will still hurt. A 2-0 success at home was followed by a 3-0 defeat away; sentenced to defeat when it seemed victory was so likely.

They would go onto finish second in LaLiga though which, on the whole, is another big positive in Simeone's reign.

This summer has been one of significant change though, and based on very early showings in the league, there is every chance Atletico will see more silverware this season.

Iconic defender Diego Godin has departed for Inter, Antoine Griezmann made the switch to Barcelona, Lucas Hernandez completed a big money move to Bayern Munich and holding midfielder Rodri is now at Manchester City.

Atletico reinvested the money though. The highly-rated Joao Felix joined for an eye-watering €126m fee. Marcos Llorente comes into the midfield, so too does Hector Herrera, while Kieran Trippier and Mario Hermoso fill the voids left in the defensive areas.

Atletico fell to a surprise defeat away to Real Sociedad at the weekend, but their LaLiga campaign had got underway with three victories prior to the international break.

The results at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium will be key for chances of success in all competitions this season. They accumulated 48 points in front of their own fans in LaLiga last season, matching Barcelona at the top of the home standings.

They'll carry that home form into Europe - and the 6/4 price on Atletico wrapping up the three points is worth taking.

Best bet: Atletico Madrid to win at 6/4

Opta facts

  • Juventus and Atlético Madrid will meet for the 5th time in the Champions League. They met in the 2014-15 Group Stages, with the Spaniards winning at home (1-0) and drawing away (0-0), before Juve knocked them out of the 2018-19 UCL in the Last 16 stage after turning around a 0-2 deficit from the 1st leg and winning 3-0 in the 2nd leg at home.
  • Italian clubs have won just four of their last 27 trips away to Spanish teams in the UEFA Champions League (D3 L20). However, the last three of these victories have been by Juventus; at Sevilla in 2016-17, Real Madrid in 2017-18 and Valencia in 2018-19.
  • Atlético Madrid have lost just one of their eight UEFA Champions League meetings with Italian clubs (W5 D2), but this solitary defeat came against Juventus in the Last 16 in Turin back in March (0-3); their last UCL match.
  • Juve boss Maurizio Sarri lifted the Europa League in 2018-19 with Chelsea. Only three managers have ever won the UEFA Cup/Europa League and then the European Cup/Champions League in consecutive seasons (Rafael Benitez, Jose Mourinho and Bob Paisley).
  • Since Diego Simeone’s first UEFA Champions League game as Atletico Madrid coach in September 2013, they have kept more clean sheets than any other team in the UCL (34).
  • Atlético Madrid will compete in their first Champions League season without Antoine Griezmann since 2013-14. He scored or assisted 54% of their goals in the UCL (19 goals, 7 assists) between September 2015 & March 2019 before leaving this summer for Barcelona.
  • Diego Costa has scored nine goals in 13 games for Atlético Madrid in the UEFA Champions League, averaging a goal every 99 minutes and converting 26% of shots. At Chelsea, he scored just twice in 15 UCL games, averaging a goal every 586 minutes and scoring 5% of shots.
  • Atlético’s Joao Felix will be 19 years and 312 days old on the day of this match against Juventus. If he were to score in this match, he’d become the 5th youngest Portuguese player to score in the UEFA Champions League, after Miguel (17y 327d), Gonçalo Guedes (18y 305d), Manuel Fernandes (19y 255d) and Hugo Viana (19y 302d). Compatriot and all-time leading UCL goalscorer Cristiano Ronaldo didn’t score his first goal in the competition until he was 22 years and 64 days old.
  • Juventus’ Cristiano Ronaldo is the all-time top goalscorer in the UEFA Champions League (126, excluding qualifiers) and has scored in over half of his 162 appearances in the competition (82 different games); another record in the competition.
  • Juventus striker Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 25 goals in his career against Atletico Madrid; only against Sevilla (27) has he scored more in all competitions. This includes a hat-trick against them in the UEFA Champions League last season.

Bayern Munich v Crvena Zvezda

Bayern Munich are the dominant force in Germany
Bayern Munich are the dominant force in Germany

Alongside Atletico, we're backing Bayern as a potential to go all the way. As explained in our outright preview:

Bayern are the club that often flies the flag. No German team has reached a further stage than the Bavarian outfit since Schalke did so in 2011.

Munich has been the permanent home of the Bundesliga title in recent seasons. They've finished top for seven consecutive seasons now and even with a resurgent Dortmund you'd fancy them to remain there in 2020.

Success on the European stage has eluded them since they won the trophy when this remarkable run of dominance started in 2013. Four semi-final appearances in six seasons shows how they have become the nearly men - although a defeat to Liverpool in the round of 16 last season saw them fall well short of usual standards.

It's perhaps why they have invested big in the transfer window this summer. Mats Hummels was the major departure in terms of fee with his €38m move back north to Dortmund, although Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben are now significant absentees on the wings.

They've targeted two of France's World Cup winning squad to bolster the back line. Benjamin Pavard became the latest in a long line of Bundesliga players to be attracted to a switch to Bayern while Lucas Hernandez joined from Atletico for an €80m fee.

Ivan Perisic is in to fill a vacancy out wide after a loan move from Inter, while Philippe Coutinho is one of the headline moves of the summer as he is in for the season from Barcelona.

The best bet in this game though comes from someone who is approaching the 100-game mark for the club.

Niklas Sule has established himself as a key part of the Munich defence. He's played nearly every minute of Bayern's campaign so far.

The 24-year-old has helped the unbeaten run in the Bundesliga, while also posing a threat at the other end of the pitch from set-piece situations.

Only Freiburg's Jonathan Schimd and Dortmund's Mats Hummels have posted more shots than Sule among defensive players in the Bundesliga during the 2019/20 campaign.

With Robert Lewandowski a best price of 2/5 to score anytime, and the likes of Serge Gnabry, Ivan Perisic, Phillipe Coutinho and Thomas Muller all floating around the even money mark, it is worth considering Sule at big odds of 7/1.

Bayern's 1/14 price shows how the money is behind a convincing home victory - and in that they should see a high corner count providing the opportunities for the defensive players to pounce.

Best bet: Niklas Sule to score anytime at 7/1

Opta facts

  • This will be the first competitive meeting between Bayern Munich and Crvena Zvezda since October 2007, when the Germans prevailed 3-2 away in Serbia in the UEFA Cup Group Stages.
  • German champions Bayern Munich have scored in each of their last 28 UEFA Champions League Group Stage matches at the Allianz Arena; a run stretching back to November 2009.
  • Bayern Munich lost their last UEFA Champions League match at home; a 1-3 defeat at the hands of Liverpool in the Last 16 of the 2018-19 competition. They haven’t lost successive UCL home games since October 2002.
  • Of teams to have played more than 10 UEFA Champions League games at home, Bayern Munich have the third best win ratio in home matches (70%) behind Real Madrid (75%) and Barcelona (74%).
  • This will be Crvena Zvezda’s second participation in the UEFA Champions League, having finished fourth in Group C last season, behind Napoli, PSG and eventual winners Liverpool.
  • Crvena Zvezda conceded more goals in the Group Stages of the 2018-19 UEFA Champions League than any other team (17).
  • Crvena Zvezda have lost all three of their previous away matches in the UEFA Champions League (all in 2018-19), conceding 13 goals. The record for the most goals conceded in the opening four away games for a single team in the UEFA Champions League is 14, set by Olympiakos and Shakhtar Donetsk.
  • Robert Lewandowski has scored 36 goals in just 52 Champions League appearances for Bayern Munich – only Thomas Müller has scored more for the club in the competition (42 goals in 105 apps).
  • Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski could face Crvena Zvezda for the first time in the UEFA Champions League. He has scored against 22 different opponents in the competition; only nine players have scored against a wider range of clubs in the UCL, with Spanish striker Raul netting against the most (33).
  • Bayern’s Alphonso Davies will be aged 18 years and 321 days old on the day of this game. Should he play and score, he’d be the 3rd youngest player to score in the UEFA Champions League for the club after Samuel Kuffour and Roque Santa Cruz. He would also be just the third Canadian to score in the competition & the first since Atiba Hutchinson in December 2006 for FC København.

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Odds correct at 1250 BST (16/09/19)

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