Mark O’Haire’s Champions League Tips – Tuesday
Wolfsburg and Manchester United lock horns in a trappy affair from the Volkswagen Arena on Tuesday night.
Wolfsburg v Manchester United, Tuesday 8 December 2015 19.45, BT Sport Europe
Various permutations are being sighted as the two Group B sides look to progress to the last 16 but the most simple explanation is, Wolfsburg need a point to qualify whilst United must match or better PSV’s result in their home clash with CSKA.
Considering the Eindhoven club are odds-on to beat the Russians in Holland, Louis van Gaal’s men will know only three points are certain to take them through. The Red Devils are unbeaten in seven and have lost just three of their 24 matches this season but supporters have grown frustrated following a series of turgid displays.
Five of United’s last nine have finished 0-0 with 9 of their past 10 fixtures featuring fewer than three goals (scored seven, conceded two) – seven of those contests ended in stalemate.
Van Gaal’s travellers are the lowest scorers in the Premier League’s top-six (netting just 20 in 15) and only six teams have scored fewer than the Red Devils’ return of five goals in five Champions League group-games, each of whom sit bottom of their groups with no chance of making it to the next round.
The visitors have won just once in nine Champions League road trips (W1-D4-L4) and are at far from full strength for their visit to Germany.
Morgan Schneiderlin has failed to recover from a hip injury whilst Marouane Fellaini is likely to retain his spot behind Anthony Martial with Wayne Rooney out injured – Fellaini hasn’t scored since the qualifying round against Club Brugge with Martial notching once in 13.
United’s 19-man squad includes Paddy McNair (a big doubt), Nick Powell (one appearance in three years) as well as youngsters Guillermo Varela, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, Sean Goss and Andreas Pereira, highlighting their lack of available bodies and so despite decent away wins at Everton and Southampton this term, it’s difficult to find the faith in backing the guests at 11/5.
Wolfsburg suffered their first home Bundesliga loss in 30 on Saturday evening as Dortmund‘s Shinji Kagawa grabbed a 93rd-minute winner. Perhaps tellingly, Dieter Hecking’s troops have now failed their two biggest home tests this season with Bayern Munich already ending the Wolves’ DFB Pokal defence in an uncompromising fashion at the Volkswagen Arena.
Still, the hosts continue to rely on their home record (W8-D1-L2) with their 15-match form returning just six victories. Expected to push Bayern close following a very promising 2014/15, the Lower Saxony club have understandably felt the loss of Kevin De Bruyne hard with their menacingly fast counter-attacking game curbed.
The state of play in Group B makes this a tricky contest to call and there’s a realistic chance that both teams will start the game looking to pick up a point. Under 2.5 Goals backers should be aware that only one of Wolfsburg’s last half dozen at the Volkswagen Arena fell below the three-goal line whilst seven of United’s last 11 in all competitions also broke the two-goal barrier.
So instead, the half-time draw stands out at even-money. Neither club may be willing to take early risks in a cautious opening and so seeing as this selection has proven profitable in eight of United’s last nine, it’s an angle that looks to have legs.
Alternatively, ticking ‘No’ in the Both Teams To Score column at 20/21 holds more value than an Under 2.5 Goals play at 3/4. Wolfsburg have kept their sheets clean in five of their previous 10 and are yet to concede a goal at home in the group-stages of the Champions League. United boast eight shutouts of their own in 11 whilst no more than one team has found the net in five of Wolfsburg’s previous six and 11 of the guests’ last 15.
Half-time draw @ EVS
Manchester City v Borussia Monchengladbach, Tuesday 8 December 2015 19.45, BT Sport 2
Borussia Monchengladbach failed to score in trips to Sevilla and Juventus in Group D but don’t let that put you off the rampant Germans upsetting the odds on Tuesday night at the Etihad.
The Foals are chasing Europa League qualification and must pick up maximum points at already-qualified Manchester City to seal their place in Europe’s secondary competition and arrive in England bang in form.
On Saturday, Gladbach became the first team to beat all-conquering Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga this season (their first loss before the winter break in nearly four years) and have W8-D2-L0 in league action since Andre Schubert took the reigns. That outstanding return has lifted the club from rock bottom to third.
In fact, City are the only side to have beaten Gladbach in Shubert’s 16 competitive matches in charge as they’ve taken down Wolfsburg, Schalke and Hertha (all top-six rivals) as well as the Bavarian superpower.
The Foals have W4-D2-L0 in their past six on the road, notching 17 goals.
Manchester City will definitely be without captain Vincent Kompany again this midweek and in 2015/16, Manuel Pellegrini’s men have W7-D2-L1 with their Belgian talisman marshalling the backline, keeping seven clean sheets in the process. Without Kompany, that record reads W8-D0-L5 and zero shutouts.
The Citizens’ defence looked all at sea at Stoke on Saturday and with just four Champions League clean sheets in 33 (including zero in 13 at the Etihad since 2011), it’s hard to believe the hosts are capable of shutting out a Gladbach side that’s averaging over 15 shots-per-game in the continent’s premier club competition.
City have W4-D2-L4 in their last 10 Premier League outings, have suffered three losses in 10 home fixtures since September and W2-D1-L4 when entertaining Champions League clubs and could also be without Sergio Aguero, Yaya Toure and Fernandinho on Tuesday night. Throw in their tally of just two clean sheets in 18, including none in their most recent 10 at home, and opposing Pellegrini’s charges looks the best option to take.
It’s worth noting that Gladbach are far from impenetrable themselves, mind. Only bottom-placed Hoffenheim have conceded more than their 23 goals in 15 Bundesliga battles with 12 of their most recent 15 rewarding Over 2.5 Goals punters – 11 also providing Both Teams To Score backers with profit.
So with City notching winning BTTS bets in 12 of their latest 13 Champions League home collisions also, having an interest in the visitors winning and both teams scoring looks well worth it at 7/1 quotes.
Borussia Monchengladbach to win and Both Teams To Score @ 7/1
Borussia Monchengladbach to score Over 1.5 Goals @ 7/4
*Prices correct at time of publication.