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Champions League Tips: 5th & 6th December
by the Cheeky Punter
It’s the final selection of matches from the Group Stages of the Champions League which take place, as usual, on Tuesday and Wednesday night’s this week.
The important thing to remember here is that only some teams have something to play for.
We don’t want to be backing teams who are resting players!
It should be an interesting couple of nights of games and I’m hoping this quartet of UEFA Champions League tips kicks December off in style.
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Both these teams are already qualified from Group B. Bayern need to win by four goal margin in order to finish top of the group.
Paris St Germain have set a record for goals in the Group Stage netting 24 in five games thus far with one game still remaining.
The game between the teams on the second Match Day finished in a 3-0 win for Paris St Germain with Dani Alves, Cavani and Neymar on the scoresheet.
Bayern come into this game on the back of a rare defeat in the Bundesliga where they lost 2-1 to Borussia Moenchengladbach at the weekend.
It is a pity that this game between two of the continent’s real giants is likely to be something of a non-event given that both teams are already qualified and that I expect them both to play somewhat weakened teams in this game with a view to their domestic fixtures at the weekend.
Bayern know that a 4-0 win or any other four goal victory over a PSG team that has conceded just once in qualifying thus far, is an almost impossible task and as such, I think Jupp Heynckes will give his key players some rest and take the runner’s up spot that they hold at present.
For PSG, this result is likely to be immaterial unless they fold like they did against Barcelona last season, but there seems to be little likelihood of this as Bayern are nowhere near as dangerous in attack as the Barcelona squad of last season.
I do feel that this game will be something of an anti-climax and as such, I think neither side will be too motivated to win it and in such circumstances, I think a draw is likely to be the result here.
Their shock last gasp defeat in Basel last time out means Utd now need one point to confirm themselves as Group A winners.
CSKA Moscow need to do better than FC Basel to finish second in the group, with the Swiss team facing Benfica in Portugal.
If CSKA and FC Basel finish level on points, then FC Basel will progress based on their head to head record where they have scored one more goal than CSKA.
United have won both their home games in the group without conceding a goal, defeating FC Basel 3-0 and Benfica 2-0. They defeated CSKA 4-1 in Russia in their second game.
That shock defeat to FC Basel means that Jose Mourinho won’t be able to rest too many of his stars in this game, given that CSKA Moscow will likely need a big win to stand any chance of progressing. Even so, I think United are sitting comfortably and are 99% confirmed as being in the knockout phase.
The Red Devils thumped their opponents tonight 4-1 in Russia on Match Day 2 of the Champions League and CSKA have a horrific away record against top teams in Europe and to be truthful, even if Mourinho rested a couple of key men, I still think United will be way too strong.
CSKA’s best hopes may be to play for a point and hope FC Basel are turned over in Portugal, but with Benfica losing all five of their games thus far, scoring just one goal in the process, that seems an unlikely prospect.
As such, I am backing United to win this game relatively comfortably as I think CSKA won’t really want to go all-out attack here as if they do, they could get a mauling. As such, I think a 2-0 United win is the most likely option here.
Liverpool need a win to confirm themselves as group winners. A draw will ensure they qualify for the KO phase, but if Sevilla win, the Reds will finish 2nd.
A Spartak Moscow win would see them finish above Liverpool, and if Sevilla draw or lose, then Spartak could end up finishing the group as winners.
If Sevilla win, Spartak can only finish second in the group and would need a win to achieve this.
If all three teams finish on 9 points, Spartak and Liverpool would qualify with Sevilla going into the Europa League based on head-to-head matches between the teams.
Liverpool have endured some shaky performances defensively in Europe this season. They have thrown away wins against Sevilla due to some awful defending and they wasted a hatful of chances to get three more points in Moscow against Spartak in their first game.
The net result of that is that while the Reds are unbeaten, they still need one point to be certain of qualifying and three points to ensure they top the group. A home tie though does swing the match in their favour, but Spartak Moscow are a team that the Reds do have a history with in the past.
That said, Liverpool’s defence has generally been better in recent times but I still think that with nothing to lose, Spartak will put them under pressure and grab a goal. The problems the Russian’s have is keeping Salah, Coutinho, Firmino and Mane quiet and I think that will be where Liverpool ultimately grab the three points here.
I don’t expect this to be an easy night for Liverpool. This Russian team did despatch Sevilla 5-1, but Anfield should be rocking for what is a must-win game for the reds if they want to be in amongst the seeded teams in the New Year.
Liverpool To Win & Both Teams To Score - £10 returns £26.00
Besiktas have already won Group G with 11 points, but FC Porto and Red Bull Leipzig both have 7 points in the race for second spot in the group.
To qualify, Red Bull need to do better than Porto. If the teams are level on points, Porto qualify as they have the better h2h record between the two.
Red Bull are unbeaten at home in the Champions League, drawing against Monaco and beating FC Porto 3-2.
Besiktas won the reverse fixture between the teams 2-0 in Istanbul on the second week of Group games. Babel and Talisca scoring their goals.
Group G already knows its winner, Besiktas, but who will qualify in second place behind them? All eyes will be on the games in Leipzig and Oporto this week as Red Bull and FC Porto attempt to earn that place in the knockout phase in the New Year.
Porto have the advantage, holding a one-away goal better record in their games with Red Bull Leipzig (both teams have won one and lost one in their head-to-head) which means the maths is simple. Red Bull must achieve a better result than FC Porto do against Monaco in order to progress, if not they will drop into the Europa League in the New Year.
With Besiktas already qualified, I can see the Turkish side resting some players here, especially their veterans like Pepe, Quaresma and Babel and that I think plays into Red Bull’s hands. The German side know nothing less than a win will likely be enough and so I am expecting them to get that against what will likely be a weakened Besiktas side.
The Cheeky Punter is an ex professional online sports bettor and trader with over 15 years of experience in the industry. He has worked for a number of top bookmakers including Ladbrokes, William Hill and Coral. He's also written for a number of leading news outlets including the Guardian, i (newspaper) and Soccer Lens. More about him here.