THE irrepressible Jack Wright (@JackWright_BSB ) is on-hand to preview Wednesday nights’s MD2 matches from the Champions League action not involving English clubs.
Atalanta vs Young Boys | Wednesday 29th September 2021, 17:45 | BT Sport
Atalanta replicated their UCL Match Day 1 scoreline at the weekend in a thrilling contest with Inter which saw them come from behind to take a 2-1 lead in to half-time before an equaliser and missed penalty from the Serie A champions meant the points were shared.
On paper, following an away draw with the group’s top seeds Villarreal, a home tie against the bottom seeds Young Boys should represent a great chance for La Dea to chalk up their first win of the campaign.
However, as Manchester United found out the Swiss champions should not be underestimated, they are on a ten-game unbeaten run, winning nine and like their hosts, absolutely love a goal!
David Wagner’s side followed up the 2-1 victory over the Red Devils on MD1 with two incredible away wins – following a 7-1 Swiss Cup defeat of Iliria with a 6-1 league thrashing of Lausanne, a closer fought home win over St. Gallen made it three wins from three in between UCL fixtures.
I feel Gian Piero Gasperini’s side will have too much here, with the bookies certainly thinking so having them priced around an untippable 4/9, but in a game which should see plenty of goals if we tag on over 2.5 goals, we get best odds of 17/20.
On the same theme it’s interesting to note that, starting with the draw at Estadio de la Ceramica on MD1, three of Atalanta’s last four competitive fixtures have seen both teams score in the first half.
For this bet to land of course it takes two to tango but at nice looking odds of 3/1 I’m prepared to take a chance that Young Boys fancy a dance.
Zenit vs Malmo | Wednesday 29th September 2021, 17:45 | BT Sport
We should expect these two sides are battling it out for third spot, as it would be a mighty surprise to see either finish above the other two members of Group H, Juventus and Chelsea.
Zenit are favourites here and put up a decent fight on MD1, limiting Chelsea to just two shots on target but still falling to a narrow 1-0 defeat.
Since then, they have continued their fantastic domestic form with back-to-back victories, including winning 3-1 at Rubin Kazan, the last side to defeat them, prior to that trip to Stamford – some 19 games and over 6 months ago.
It was no surprise to see Malmo on the end of a 3-0 home reversal to Juventus and infact prior to that their last three appearances in this competition have seen them lose 4-0, 5-0 and 8-0 and their record away from home reads one win in 23.
I think Sergei Semak’s side will have too much here, especially on home turf but odds of 8/15 are once again prohibitive but I like the look of the –1 Asian Handicap at a best price 19/20 with Bet Victor which would have resulted in a win in five of their last eight competitive home games with a refund in the other 3.
Anastasios Sidiropoulos is our referee and I couldn’t resist a play on cards in this one as a result.
The Greek official has taken charge of four games so far this season but issued 24 yellow and two red cards, with five given to Genk and Shakhtar in a UCL qualifier and 6 yellows plus a red when taking charge of Rangers v Alashkert in the Europa League.
Taking a look at his overall record in 2021 we can see he has officiated 18 competitive fixtures showing 90 yellow cards and 4 reds- using the Bet 365 points system of 1 for a yellow, 2 for a red and a maximum of 3 per player Sidiropoulos averages 5.44 per game – over 4.5 Asian total cards with Bet 365 is a worthy selection at odds of 49/50.
Bayern Munich vs Dynamo Kiev | Wednesday 29th September 2021, 20:00 | BT Sport
As we saw last night – getting heavy odds-on favourites onside is a tricky business – and here we have Bayern Munich priced as low as 1/20.
Greuther Furth were the Bavarians latest victims in an unbeaten start to the season (W8, D1), including a 3-0 win over Barcelona on MD1 and sandwiched in between those two results was the small matter of a 7-0 thrashing of Bochum – all in all meaning they are on a run of eight successive wins scoring a minimum of three goals in each of them.
A run that not only includes Barcelona but also domestic rivals Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig.
With the bookies expecting goals and a heavy win for the home side – they are around even money on a –3 handicap I am going to take a look to see if we can find some better value in the player markets.
After all, although this is a much sterner test, Kiev are certainly no mugs, they pocketed a point at home to Benfica on MD1, they remain unbeaten in the Ukrainian Premier League after nine fixtures (W8, D1) to sit top of the table by three points and have kept six clean sheets in their last seven competitive fixtures.
But this is Bayern and a Bayern that is starting to look like they are taking to new manager Julian Nagelsmann’s methods ominously well – as outlined above!
We had success in identifying a player to provide an assist yesterday, so let’s try and repeat the trick – and the player that caught my eye is Alphonso Davies.
The Canadian already has two assists to his name in the Bundesliga this season, just one behind Joshua Kimmich and Leroy Sane who are both much shorter in price at under 2/1 and the latter may not even start.
The 20-year-old isn’t far behind Kimmich as far as xA is concerned and it was interesting to note Nagelsmann played a 3421 system for the first time at the weekend meaning Davies was in a much more advanced role – if that set up is repeated tonight the 9/2 on offer with Betfair for an assist here is a great price.
For a team that scores so many goals and are expected to score plenty more it is a massive surprise to see a player who is currently Bayern’s second top goalscorer – behind Robert Lewandoski of course – at a massive price.
Joshua Kimmich has scored in each of the last two games – netting the second goal in both and Bet 365 take the bold stance here of offering the 26-year-old at odds of 22/1 to open the scoring – while he is quoted as low as 10/1 elsewhere.
The price stands out like a sore thumb and can’t be overlooked.
With Lewandowski on the scene, priced at 15/8 to score first, it is of course worth backing Kimmich each-way (1/3 of the odds for any goal) but having been knocking on the door the last couple of games maybe we can sneak in a big priced winner out of a game with little value elsewhere.
Benfica vs Barcelona | Wednesday 29th September 2021, 20:00 | BT Sport
Barcelona papered over the cracks of a wretched start to their season with a 3-0 win over Levante at the weekend but I can’t help but take them on again here.
The Catalans lost their opening UCL match of a campaign for the first time since 1997/98 and in truth were lucky to get “nil” against a Bayern Munich side who should have won by a greater margin than the three goals it ended at, whilst preventing the hosts from registering a single shot on target.
Benfica began their UCL campaign with respectable goalless draw in Kiev and have started the season in great form currently unbeaten in 12 competitive matches with a 100%-win record in the Portuguese top flight which sees them four points clear of nearest rivals Porto after seven games played.
The Eagles flew through qualifying rounds against Spartak Moscow and PSV defeating both in their home legs, making it four successive UCL wins at their Estádio da Luz and are now unbeaten in nine European competition home games, winning six with visitors such as Lyon and Zenit leaving empty handed, while Shakhtar Donetsk, Rangers and Arsenal had to make do with draws.
With this in mind getting 4/5 with Bet 365 on a +0.25 handicap for the home side looks a nice play, getting a half stake win even if the match ends a draw.
Roman Yaremchuk looks the dangerman for the home side fresh from bagging a brace at the weekend.
The summer signing from Gent, where he plundered 20 league goals in 34 appearances as well as one goal from two UCL outings, has hit the ground running in Lisbon firing in four goals in five Primeira Liga games, you may also remember the 25-year-old scoring twice in this summer’s Euros for his country Ukraine.
Yaremchuk certainly caught my eye as he played a massive part in his country progressing to the quarter finals and since arriving in Portugal, he has shown himself capable of playing solo or with more support from a striking partner, clearly becoming a key part of manager Jorge Jesus’ plans regardless of the chosen system.
I am expecting him to cause the Barcelona defence more than a few headaches here with his tall, physical presence, and having come off in the 66th minute at the weekend with his work done, he will come in to this clash fresh and full of confidence.
Yaremchuk looks a nice price at 21/10 with Sky Bet to score at any time.
RB Salzburg vs Lille | Wednesday 29th September 2021, 20:00 | BT Sport
Salzburg were involved in the craziest game of MD1 – definitely the opening 45 minutes as their trip to Sevilla incredibly saw four penalties awarded, three of which to the Austrian champions, two of which they missed!
The second half saw the home side reduced to 10-men as Youssef En Nesyri picked up a second yellow card and as a result will leave Matthias Jaissle probably still wondering how his side only started this UCL campaign with one point instead of three.
Nine games in to their domestic season and Die Roten Bullen boast a 100% record and are already seven points clear of Sturm Graz with the third-place side a further eight points back.
Opponents Lille caused a shock last season in beating PSG to the French title but a terrible start to the season, which saw them win just one of their opening seven games, means defending their crown already looks mission impossible.
Two back-to-back wins coming in to this game will at least give them confidence of getting their first UCL win of the season on the board after a goalless MD1 meeting with Wolfsburg.
I’m leaving the outcome market here with the match anyone’s in my opinion so instead for my first selection I am going to focus on corners – more specifically those for the home team.
As you would expect from a team completely dominating their league Salzburg top the table for corners won – averaging exactly nine flag kicks taken per game when in their Red Bull Arena, an average which only slightly drops when on the road and gives an overall number of 8.44 per game – 76 taken in nine league games.
Last week’s visit to Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán saw them take six corners and that is the number that has been set for them here – a number I am happy to take on with odds of 10/11 with Bet 365 – Lille conceded eight in their last away game – in Strasbourg at the weekend.
Both games involving these two clubs saw red cards on MD1 – and plenty of yellow ones too and in a tough competitive group I think we may see that as a trend for the remainder of the fixtures.
Referee Halil Umut Meler isn’t the most prolific of officials, with his seven appointments so far this season seeing an average of 3.5 cards per game.
However, the Turkish official has shown both teams at least two cards in his last two fixtures and also showed five yellow cards – 3 for Kairat Almaty and 2 for Red Star Belgrade – in his only match so far in this competition.
Hoping all parties bring the noise I have taken both teams to receive 2+ cards at 6/4 with Bet 365.
Wolfsburg vs Sevilla | Wednesday 29th September 2021, 20:00 | BT Sport
As already mentioned, Sevilla dodged a bullet on MD1 – giving away three first half penalties yet only conceding one of them, successfully dispatching one of their own and then navigating the final 40 minutes with only 10 men after the dismissal of Youssef En Nesyri, who will obviously be missing here, for a second yellow.
Both these sides have started their respective domestic campaigns well and with all four sides locked together with one point apiece it is all to play for.
Wolfsburg suffered their first defeat of the season on Saturday with a disappointing 3-1 defeat at Hoffenheim and after going in to the game with the best defensive record in the Bundesliga, ended the game looking a little ragged – Mark Van Bommel will want normal service to be resumed here.
After opening their domestic campaign with four straight wins, ‘Die Wölfe’ have now only picked up one win in their last four competitive fixtures and including last season have won just three of their last eight home games.
Six-time UEFA Europa League/UEFA Cup winners Sevilla would dearly love to progress deep in the elite European competition and will definitely see the point against Salzburg as one gained, they arrive at the Volkswagen Arena unbeaten in all competitions this term (W4, D3) and occupy third spot in La Liga.
Los Nervionenses are looking a force to be reckoned with under the growing influence of Julen Lopetegui and are unbeaten in seven UCL away assignments as well as their last seven road trips in all European competition, impressively avoiding defeat to Dortmund, Chelsea and Munich in that run.
As a result, the 0.0 Asian Handicap appeals to me, effectively draw no bet and can be taken at 5/6 with Bet 365.
To end the MD2 preview I am going to have to return to the ever-popular cards market.
Georgi Kabakov is the man with the whistle and he has taken charge of 13 competitive matches so far in 2021.
The Bulgarian official has a healthy cards per game average of 7.08 having shown 80 yellow cards and six red this year, showing 11 or more cards in a game on three separate occassions with a high of 13 yellows and two reds when Ludogorets met CSKA Sofia in the cup in April.
Bet 365 have set the line at Over 4.5 cards which is a line the 35-year-old referee has crossed in nine of 13 games 69% so the price of 5/6 looks on the right side to me.
Atalanta vs Young Boys – Atalanta to win and 3 or more goals (17/20 William Hill)
Atalanta vs Young Boys – Both teams to score in the first half (3/1 Boylesports)
Zenit vs Malmo: Zenit – Zenit –1 Asian Handicap (19/20 BetVictor)
Zenit vs Malmo – Over 4.5 Asian cards (45/50 Bet365)
Bayern Munich vs Dynamo Kiev – Alphonso Davies anytime assist (9/2 Betfair)
Bayern Munich vs Dynamo Kiev – Joshua Kimmich first goalscorer (22/1 Bet365)
Benfica vs Barcelona – Benfica +0.25 Asian Handicap (4/5 Bet365)
Benfica vs Barcelona – Roman Yaremchuk to score (21/10 SkyBet)
Salzburg vs Lille – Salzburg over 5.5 corners (10/11 Bet365)
Salzburg vs Lille – Both teams to receive 2+ cards (6/4 Bet365)
Wolfsburg vs Sevilla – Sevilla +0 Asian Handicap (5/6 Bet365)
Wolfsburg vs Sevilla – Over 4.5 Asian Cards (19/20 Bet365)