Mark O’Haire’s Champions League Tips – Tuesday’s MatchesStats
PSV v Man United
Manchester City may have swept all before them in the Premier League so far this season but are the Citizens ready to stand up and put their balls on the line in Europe?
Manchester City v Juventus, Tuesday 15th September 2015, 19.45, BT Sport Europe
City have floundered too often on the continental scene but head into Tuesday night’s Champions League clash with Juventus in rude health with five wins from five, all ‘to nil’.
However, Manuel Pellegrini’s men have been here before. The club have won just five of their last 14 matches as hosts in Europe’s premier competition and further inspection makes that return look even more bleak. Their success against Bayern Munich in 2011/12 came when the club could no longer quality and victories over Villarreal and Bayern during that time frame came courtesy of last-minute winners. Only Viktoria Plzen and CSKA Moscow have been seen off with any sort of ease.
If Man City are to have a serious impact this season they simply must address that Etihad form, as well as a sloppy defensive record.
The Citizens have kept a paltry four clean sheets in 28 Champions League outings and only claimed one win in their four previous opening matchdays (W1-D1-L2).
Pellegrini’s troops will be without superstar Sergio Aguero on Tuesday night too.
Luckily for Pellegrini, David Silva and Raheem Sterling trained on Monday and should be available but promising youngster Kelechi Iheanacho – who netted a late winner against Palace – is not eligible. Still, City surely aren’t going to get a better chance at sticking one on Juventus than this midweek.
If the Citizens’ previous Champions League form resembled a stuttering mess, Juve’s defence of their fourth successive Serie A title has been nothing short of a shambles. Never before have the Old Lady made such a shocking start to a campaign (W0-D1-L2); the Turin side came within seven minutes of a third successive league defeat on Saturday, Paulo Dybala’s late penalty eventually salvaging them a point at home to Chievo.
The Bianconeri were of course brilliant last season but the summer departures of Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal and Carlos Tevez has left the side lacking leadership and identity. Head coach Max Allegri has pleaded for patience as Juve undergo a transitional period but the Italians have been dealt a further blow with the news that Claudio Marchisio will miss out on Tuesday.
Summer signings Alex Sandro, Hernanes and Juan Cuadrado all performed well on Saturday night but Gigi Buffon has been worked a little too often for Allegri’s liking this season, with the new-look attack failing to function. Their bid for five-in-a-row domestic triumphs is already on the ropes and having not managed to win on English soil since downing Manchester United at Old Trafford in 1996, their prospects in beating Man City look bleak.
It would be remiss to completely rule out Juventus. They still boast enough match-winning quality and defensive resolve to upset the odds but City are flying. And whilst I don’t expect the hosts to pierce the semi-finals this season, I do fancy them to kick-off their campaign with a maximum points return at the Etihad. Man City to win is 3/4.
Manchester City to win @ 3/4
PSV Eindhoven v Manchester United, Tuesday 15th September 2015, 19.45, BT Sport 2
What a difference a game makes. The knives were out for Louis van Gaal as his Manchester United side suffered defeat at Swansea before the international break. Wins over Spurs and Aston Villa were underwhelming and a goalless draw at home to Newcastle frustrated so Saturday’s 3-1 success over old rivals Liverpool was well received.
But hey, the Red Devils were hardly irresistible. The first 45 minutes was as dull and bland a United-Liverpool half as I can remember. Credit to van Gaal though, it was a stirring second half performance and their tails should be up for this. They make the journey without Wayne Rooney and Phil Jones; otherwise it’s a clean bill of health for the trip to the Philips Stadion.
Rooney’s absence means Marouane Fellaini is expected to lead the line in attack despite Anthony Martial’s goalscoring debut. It doesn’t scream excitement but it’s bound to be effective. English sides have won on their past three trips to Eindhoven and after their one-year absence from European football, United should have enough to heap more misery on a PSV side that’s just W4-D2-L6 of their last 12 Champions League duels as hosts.
Man Utd weakened Philip Cocu’s men this summer with the signing of Memphis Depay. The Netherlands international scored 22 league goals last season and was an integral reason why they won Eredivisie. The Boeren have promised to give their returning hero a hot reception as they return to the competition for the first time in five seasons.
The Dutch champions smashed lowly Cambuur 6-0 at the weekend and arrive having W3-D2-L0 in domestic action from their first five. Their solid start includes a 3-1 victory over Feyenoord at the Philips Stadion and extends their unbeaten streak to 12, when including last season’s fixtures.
The one-time European Cup winners have netted in their last 15 outings but could be without attacking midfielder Adam Maher while Jetro Willems and Florian Jozefzoon remain major doubts. In six home Europa League ties last season PSV failed to net twice and never scored more than one goal in a game. It’s a rather damning return for a side that’s attack looked stronger back then than now.
United have only conceded four goals all season in all competitions and you get the impression van Gaal will be desperate to keep things tight on his tournament bow with the Red Devils.
The visitors are trading at 23/20 but one goal might be enough to pinch the points and so backing Man Utd to win by exactly one goal at 29/10 makes more appeal than a flat match winner bet with Under 2.5 Goals also worth a small wager at 5/6.
Manchester United to win by exactly one goal @ 29/10
Under 2.5 Goals @ 5/6