George Pitts previews Wednesday's action in the Champions League, including Chelsea and Liverpool's matchday five fixtures.
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Valencia v Chelsea
1755 GMT on BT Sport
Qualification from Group H is far from assured with Ajax, Chelsea and Valencia all on seven points, so victory for either side here will help them take a significant step closer to the knockout stages.
With this in mind, and Chelsea's progress in the last six weeks or so, this clash could provide more entertainment and goals than their meeting at Stamford Bridge.
Rodrigo's first-half strike helped Valencia to a 1-0 victory in September, but the Blues have since hit form with just three defeats in their next 13 in all competitions and a big improvement under Frank Lampard.
They were unfortunate to lose at Man City on Saturday in the Premier League and can travel to Spain with confidence after winning their two away games so far in this group campaign.
With goals on the cards, backing Chelsea and over 1.5 presents value at 7/5, but the preference is to focus on the shots market due to one interesting statistic.
Sporting Life Price Boost
Chelsea wing-back Marcos Alonso has developed a reputation for his attack-minded approach and he likes to contribute a goal or assist every now and then.
It is no surprise to see his shots-per-game average in this competition at 2.5, the third-highest in the Blues squad, so it seems he has been getting a bit of joy down the left in Europe this term.
In each of his four Champions League appearances he has had at least a shot - one against Ajax at home (in just 46 minutes), two away at Ajax, three at Lille and four in the Stamford Bridge clash with Valencia.
He is just under 2/1 to register two shots in Wednesday's clash. This market does not require them to be on target and has no reliance on the result - a great price for the early kick-off at the Mestalla that is surely worthy of a small play.
Best bet: Marcos Alonso 2+ total shots at 7/4
- Chelsea have played three away UEFA Champions League matches at Valencia without losing (W2 D1 L0) – they’ve only faced FC Schalke 04 and Atlético Madrid as often away from home without defeat in the competition.
- Valencia have won three of their last four home UEFA Champions League games (W3 D0 L1), having lost four of their previous five (W1 D0 L4).
- Valencia are one of five teams yet to score in the first half of a UEFA Champions League game this season, with all six of their goals coming in the second half.
- Chelsea manager Frank Lampard could become the seventh manager to win his first three away UEFA Champions League matches – the six to do so are Fabio Capello (Milan, 1993), Luis Fernandez (PSG, 1994), Antonio Oliveira (Porto, 1996), Claudio Ranieri (Chelsea, 2003), Pep Guardiola (Barcelona, 2008) and Santiago Solari (Real Madrid, 2019).
- Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham has had more shots than any other Chelsea player in the UEFA Champions League this season (14) – however, he has found the net with just one of those shots and has scored as many own goals as he has goals (1).
Charlie Nicholas' Wednesday predictions
Liverpool v Napoli
Another one which could decide the winner of the group, but Napoli are yet to seal qualification for the knockout stages.
Liverpool are on nine points and nearly through, but two defeats for Carlo Ancelotti's side in their last two Group E games could see them pipped by Salzburg.
The Italians are without a win in their last six in all competitions, drawing five of them, and a point would be good enough here. With them battling to secure a place in the knockout stages, and Liverpool a little more relaxed, some kind of result is perfectly possible, but the main focus should be on goals.
The last three cup games at Anfield (Champions League and Carabao Cup) have seen 20 goals scored in total. Both Jurgen Klopp's first and second choice XIs have shown capabilities in the final third while also struggling to keep clean sheets at the back and, given Napoli's attacking threat, it has the potential to be a good watch.
Both teams to score at a shade under evens looks decent but backing two or more goals in the first half at 7/5 is a better-priced option.
There have been at least two goals scored in the first half of Napoli's last two Champions League games and in two of Liverpool's last three, so it looks a good way to go.
- Since losing 2-0 to Napoli on MD1, Liverpool have won each of their last three UEFA Champions League games – the Reds haven’t won four consecutively since March 2009.
- Napoli’s José Callejón created 11 chances in their 1-1 draw with FC Red Bull Salzburg on MD4 – the most by a player in a UEFA Champions League match since Mesut Özil created 12 for Real Madrid against Tottenham in April 2011.
- Liverpool’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has scored in his last two UEFA Champions League appearances – the only Englishman to score in three in a row for the Reds is Steven Gerrard (five in a row in 2007-08).
- Napoli manager Carlo Ancelotti was the last manager to win an away UEFA Champions League match at Anfield against Liverpool, leading Real Madrid to a 3-0 win in October 2014. No manager has won more away Champions League games in England than Ancelotti (3 – level with José Mourinho and Massimiliano Allegri).
Wednesday's Champions League fixtures
Lille v Ajax
The bet of the day comes from Group H, with Ajax a fantastic price for their relatively short trip to Lille.
The Dutch giants are just under evens to win in France - chuck in over 1.5 total goals and we are above evens (with over 2.5 it's around 6/4) and confidence is high that they can do the business.
Erik ten Hag is yet to lose an away game in Europe since taking over as Ajax boss in the summer of 2018 - that's eight games and all the more impressive considering they have travelled to Juventus, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Chelsea and Spurs.
They played out an impressive 4-4 draw at Stamford Bridge earlier this month (finishing the game with nine men) and will be confident against a Lille side which they beat 3-0 in the reverse fixture.
Liile are winless in this group and have not won in 10 Champions League home games, while their current form in all competitions reads one victory in their last 10 outings. Further to this, they have scored just twice in their last four matches.
They are already heading out of the competition at this stage while Ajax, with the continued spirit that got them to the semis last season, still have it all to play for with three teams tied in the group.
It is a must win and they should not let us down.
- Ajax are unbeaten in eight away UEFA Champions League matches (W5 D3 L0), their best run since going 14 without defeat between September 1994 and March 1997.
- Lille are winless in 10 home UEFA Champions League matches (W0 D4 L6). Only two teams have ever had longer home winless runs – Spartak Moscow (11 between 2001 and 2006) and FCSB (13 between 1996 and 2013).
- 10 of Ajax’s last 15 goals in the UEFA Champions League have been scored in the first half of matches – prior to this, only 10 of their previous 40 had been scored in the first half of games.
- Ajax’s Hakim Ziyech has been involved in 10 goals in his last 12 UEFA Champions League appearances (4 goals, 6 assists) – the Moroccan has either scored or assisted in each of his last six away games in the competition (2 goals, 5 assists).
Odds correct as of 1500 GMT on 26/11/19
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Related Champions League links
- Matchday four highlights
- Liverpool top group after win
- 'Job done' for Klopp
- Ajax collapse as Blues get a point
- Bravo sees red in City draw
- Son shines as Spurs sink Red Star
- UCL: Bayern & Juve go through
- Team-by-team profiles
- Latest Champions League group tables
- Latest Champions League odds
- Champions League draw details
- Champions League key dates
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