Champions League Tips – 6th & 7th September
This week sees the return of European competition across the three major club competitions in Europe. We’ll bring you our tips for the Europa League later this week, but first up it is the big boys as teams lock horns in the first round of Champions League Group Stage games.
We have a pretty unusual set up for the Champions League this season, ostensibly due to the World Cup taking place in November and December, when the final couple of rounds of the Group Stages are usually played out.
What we have instead are three ‘double weeks’ of games similar to the international fixture list. We kick off this week with games on the 6th & 7th and then Matchday 2 takes place next week on the 13th and 14th September.
We then wait until the 4th or 5th October for Matchday 3, with the return games of Matchday 4 taking place a week later. Finally, we have Matchday 5 on the 25th and 26th October, followed by the final Group Stage games on Matchday 6 on the 1st and 2nd November.
Also, in a break with tradition, the teams that meet on Matchday 1 will play their return game on Matchday 6 (not Matchday 5), while the teams meeting Matchday 2 will play their return game on Matchday 5 (not Matchday 6), but the two middle games on Matchdays 3 and 4 against the same opponent remain.
Due to this being a busy turnaround period of fixtures, sometimes I’ll have to write these fixtures up before the last set of tips is completed, so I am going to refer back to the previous set of Champions League tips for the Champions League, Europa League tips for the Europa League and Premier League for the Premier League, to make things more relevant.
The Champions League was kind to us last season. Let’s hope it can help us to a good profit with this set of tips for Group Stage Matchday 1.
Champions League Tips: Tuesday 6th September
It is strange to think that these two powerhouses of European football have not met in the Champions League before, but their only competitive games in the past came many years ago and were in the now defunct Cup Winners Cup and the Europa League (back when it was the UEFA Cup).
In nine games, eight competitive and one friendly, Juventus hold a huge advantage having won seven of those games and drawing the other two. They beat PSG 6-1 away from home in the two-legged Super Cup in 1996, after comfortably beating the French side in the first game and they have arguably the best record against the French side of any of the top European sides.
However, that may well be because Juventus have not played this version of PSG, which are benefitting from the vast sums of money put into the club by the owners. Any team that can boast Neymar, Messi and Mbappe as their forward line is going to be a threat against any team.
I am not a fan of PSG at all, I think their model is starting to ruin football, and they do spit their dummies when they start to get beat. However, they should be too strong for Juventus here and I am backing them to win this game by a 1-0 or 2-0 scoreline.
Manchester City have had their customary solid start to the season and lie just a couple of points behind Arsenal heading into the weekend games. They also have Erling Haaland in superb form having netted a hat trick in his last two games for the club.
In contrast, Sevilla’s start to the season has been poor. The Spanish side are more used to being involved in things at the top end of the table but this season, they have been dragged into the bottom half after picking up just one point in their opening three games of the season.
Their CL form isn’t much better with no wins in their last four games in the competition, albeit most of those games were draws, and given that City did the double over the Spaniards when they met back in 2015, following up a 2-1 win at home with a 3-1 win in Spain, I feel that City are the team to back here.
Erling Haaland scored four and assisted in the other when Dortmund defeated Sevilla 5-4 on aggregate in the knockout phase of this competition last season and he clearly has the number on this Sevilla defence and as such, even if Sevilla score, I think City run out comfortable winners.
UCL Tips: Wednesday 7th September
While Liverpool have had a good record in Italy of late, if one team has managed to get the better of them more than most it is Napoli. The Reds have not won in Naples in three attempts, going down to defeat twice, including the last time they played in 2019 and drawing the other game way back in 2010.
Napoli had started the season well in Serie A, rattling in nine goals in their opening two games, but two draws since have seen them fall down the league into fourth, but they still look well set to do well this season and they have some very talented attackers in the team, notably the Nigerian striker Victor Osimhen.
Liverpool’s tendency to concede first in games has been a big worry for Reds fans for a while now and there seems to be no end in sight for that particular run. Certainly the Reds defence looks more fragile now than it has at any time over the last few years and that is something Napoli will want to take advantage of.
I have a feeling Liverpool will do enough to take a point from this game but I feel they are going to have to do so by coming from behind again and if Napoli are going to score first, then I think Victor Osimhen is the man that is most likely to do that for them.
Tottenham boss Antonio Conte will be well aware that Marseille have had a strong start to the season and after some excellent recruitment, they should offer Spurs a stern test in their opening Champions League fixture of the season.
At home, Spurs have looked excellent and they have shown plenty of grit in away games to earn a result when perhaps they would have succumbed to defeat in previous years. Harry Kane is back amongst the goals and certainly they will start this game against the French side as the favourites to win the game.
Marseille though have four ex-Arsenal players in their squad, Alexis Sanchez, Matteo Guendouzi, Sead Kolasinac plus Nuno Tavares on loan and they will need no extra motivation for this game. Add to that the silky skills of Dmitri Payet and the direct threat of Cedric Bakambu and Marseille have plenty of threat themselves.
This will be a close one and I can see both teams scoring, but I think Spurs will emerge with a narrow win here.
*Tips are exactly that tips (predictions) and do not guarantee success.