Mark O’Haire’s Champions League Tips – Wednesday’s Matches
Qualification from Group F was seemingly done and dusted for Arsenal following embarrassing back-to-back defeats to Dinamo Zagreb and Olympiakos.
Bayern Munich v Arsenal, Wednesday 4th November 2015 (19.45), BT Sport Europe
Pointless from their first two fixtures, the Gunners then pulled off the unthinkable and beat European giants Bayern Munich 2-0 at the Emirates a fortnight ago.
If Arsene Wenger’s side still hope to progress, the Londoners are likely to need to pick up a point in Munich this midweek with Olympiakos able to move to nine points with a win at home to Zagreb. Despite their heroics two weeks ago, pocketing a victory at the Allianz Arena looks a tall order with the visitors suffering a lengthy injury list.
Still, Arsenal will attempt to repeat the trick and tactics that served them so well at the Emirates. Although the pace and counter-attacking threats provided by Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be missing, expect the Gunners to cede possession to Bayern before springing forward when the ball is turned over in the hope of catching the Bavarians’ high defensive line cold.
The joint-Premier League leaders have won five on the spin when excluding their Capital One Cup exit (where Wenger fielded a number of kids) and recent trips to Munich in this competition across the past two years have seen the guests collect a 2-0 victory and creditable 1-1 draw. Add in Arsenal’s W7-D2-L3 away Champions League record and suddenly the travellers look overpriced at 13/2.
But hey, this is Bayern – a European super power. Although Arsenal took the points in London, the Germans controlled the game and whilst they didn’t threaten the Gunners goal too often, the opener came from an unusual mistake by Manuel Neuer. FC Hollywood will be keen to avenge that defeat and cement their place at the top of the pool.
But hang on, is the Bayern Express creaking? Pep Guardiola fielded a very strong side for Friday’s Bundesliga battle with Eintracht Frankfurt and the Bavarians were unable to break Frankfurt’s resistance. Their 10-match winning run to start the league season was ended in a frustrating evening in the financial capital and suddenly there’s a dollop of pressure looming over the Allianz Arena.
Pep’s troops often come up trumps when it matters most and there’s a catalogue of trends that could be attributed to display their dominance, be it at home or on the continent. The hosts have won all bar one of their previous 17 Champions League group-stage games in Munich – their only failure came in a 3-2 defeat to Man City in 2013/14 when they had already guaranteed qualification.
Indeed, Bayern have notched seven European wins on the spin, including five clean sheets and 27 goals plundered – that run has included dates with Barcelona, Man City, Roma, Shakhtar and Porto. In Bundesliga action, Bayern have already beaten their three closest challengers in Leverkusen, Wolfsburg and Dortmund – all by at least three clear goals.
When welcoming English opposition, the Bavarians have W12-D6-L3 and Pep’s men have smashed at least three goals in 11 of their 16 matches in all competitions this season, including 29 in total from just seven outings in Munich. Can Arsenal cope with such comprehensive one-sided stats on Wednesday? Perhaps.
If Arsenal continue to sit deep, soak up the pressure and allow Bayern to manipulate possession, they may well have an outside chance.
I certainly don’t expect a hammering and if the Gunners do go down, it may well be by the odd goal.
I’m going to take a small wager on Bayern to win and Under 2.5 Goals at a juicy 7/2 – none of the last four meetings between the teams have featured more than two goals but it would take a brave punter to oppose the hosts.
Bayern Munich to win and Under 2.5 Goals (7/2)
Chelsea v Dynamo Kiev, Wednesday 4th November 2015 (19.45), BT Sport 2
I think I can speak on behalf of all non-Chelsea fans when I say, we’re all enjoying what’s going on at Stamford Bridge this season, eh? The Blues’ 3-1 home defeat to Liverpool was their third in five in front of their home supporters and intensified the pressure on Jose Mourinho.
The capital club’s woes have seen them now lose six of their 11 Premier League matches, a Capital One Cup exit as well as sitting down in third of Group G in the Champions League. Relationships are reportedly strained between Mourinho and a lot of the first team players and clearly all is not well in West London.
But Wednesday’s tie with Dynamo Kiev could at least offer the home side a bit of welcome relief. Although Chelsea have only W1-D3-L1 in their last five continental clashes with just two of their previous nine goals coming from open play, they do boast a fearsome Stamford Bridge record in group-stage games.
Over the past 10 years, the Blues have W24-D6-L1 when welcoming European opponents at this stage and so with Dynamo recording W0-D1-L7 in England and failing to notch a goal in six of those encounters, the omens are pointing towards a home victory.
Furthermore, Ukrainian and Russian clubs have managed a paltry W1-D2-L16 return when visiting England in Champions League action over the past 15 years. Taking just Kiev’s results across the same span, the visitors have W2-D5-L9 on their travels in this competition, losing by two goals or more on six occasions. And the misery isn’t compounded to just away fixtures – the travellers have bagged just five group-stage wins in 33 attempts now, home or away.
However, it would be remiss to completely rule out the Ukrainians. In domestic action Serhiy Rebrov’s side are flying with nine wins from 11, sitting second only on goal difference. In all competitions they’ve an impressive haul of 14 shutouts from 19 and travel with an almost fully fit squad.
There’s clearly talent in the group and Andriy Yarmolenko is often the architect of Dynamo’s best moments. With Chelsea having conceded two or more goals in nine of their eleven league matches, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see Kiev rattle the Blues and play their part in an enjoyable encounter.
So I’m willing to go against the grain and take a punt on a Chelsea win with Over 2.5 Goals – 10 of the Londoners’ last 12 Champions League group-games featured at least three goals with seven even breaking the Over 3.5 Goals barrier.
The Blues are capable of clinching the goals bet on their own but Dynamo could well strike themselves with Mou’s Blues proving too strong come the final whistle.
Chelsea to win and Over 2.5 Goals (17/10)
*Prices correct at time of publication.