Uefa Champions League: Game Week 2

Hoffenheim v Manchester City 

Having lost their group opener to Lyon, City are in need of three points here. The pressure may be on but Hoffenheim look ideal opponents for Pep Guardiola’s men.

They took on Shakhtar Donetsk in an end-to-end contest on Matchday One, the game ending 2-2, and it’s not hard to see City capitalising if they are so open again. That was far from a one-off either, as all eight of Hoffenheim’s games this season have seen both teams score. That’s a 1.64 chance here, although with City having kept three clean sheets since their Lyon upset, scoring 10 at the other end, that run may be about to finish.

The hosts, beaten three times in six Bundesliga games this season, have conceded at least twice in four of their eight matches so far and have more defensive worries ahead of this clash with Kevin Vogt, Ermin Bicakcic and Havard Nordtveit all injury doubts.

Goals should be expected – odds of 2.00 about their being over 3.5 suggest that – but a better bet looks to be to back City on the -1.5 Asian handicap at the same price.

The Lyon loss appears to have focused minds and their goal-laden attack going up against a shaky home defence looks like to enjoy plenty of success.

City scored four away to Feyenoord, Napoli and Basel last season in this competition and there looks every chance they can do something similar here.

Manchester United v Valencia 

Without a win in three games, including a miserable 3-1 loss at West Ham on Saturday, the storm clouds really are gathering over Old Trafford.

Jose Mourinho certainly needs a result here to get people talking about football again but United as a whole do too – anything but three points here will give Valencia an advantage in terms of progressing from a group which also contains Juventus.

The good news for out-of-sorts United is that Valencia have also made a disappointing start to the season. Indeed, it took them until Saturday to claim their first win, albeit they have only lost once in seven La Liga games.

Therein lies the problem for United; the Spaniards are tough to beat. Seven of their eight games this season have seen under 2.5 goals, highlighting the defensive approach. They have also failed to score in four of those games.

Going low on goals here looks a sensible play. If United do get ahead, don’t be at all surprised to see Mourinho revert to type with a defensive ‘hold what you have’ approach. With both sides pretty low on confidence, 2.00 about under 2.5 goals certainly looks better than any bet on United at 1.68.

Napoli v Liverpool

Napoli are back in their familiar position of second, behind Juventus, in Serie A but their results this season do not suggest they will push the Old Lady as close as they did when Maurizio Sarri was at the helm last term.

Carlo Ancelotti’s men have been something of flat-track bullies so far, winning often, but they were well beaten at Sampdoria and lost 3-1 at Juve at the weekend. In this competition, they’ve already suffered a potentially-damaging 0-0 draw with supposed whipping boys Red Star Belgrade.

Such results will give Liverpool real belief they can add Napoli to their PSG scalp and take control of the group.

Six of Napoli’s eight games have seen over 2.5 goals – a 1.62 chance this time – as have five of Liverpool’s last six. Both teams to score is even shorter at 1.55.

Having managed it against PSG, Liverpool to score in both halves is perhaps a more tempting price at 2.75. They certainly carved out enough chances against Chelsea at the weekend to have done this, while they have managed it in two of their four away games this season, including at fellow Champions League side Spurs.

Daniel Sturridge is the man of the moment having scored in the Reds’ two games against Chelsea over the past week. He’s 1.95 to net in this one but Sadio Mane looks more interesting at 2.60 given he scored 10 times in 13 appearances in last season’s Champions League and looks more likely to start.

Tottenham v Barcelona 

Barcelona are odds-against to beat a Spurs side who have failed to convince on many occasions this season.

Yet Barca are also in something of a lull having failed to win in three games since their 4-0 win over PSV Eindhoven on matchday one, drawing twice and losing once in La Liga.

They conceded in all three games and problems at the back appear to be mounting with Samuel Umtiti suspended for this one and Sergi Roberto set to miss out through injury.

With Barcelona also having won only one of their last seven Champions League away games, this doesn’t look the time to be backing them at 2.05.

Dele Alli is missing for the hosts, who impressed when dismantling both Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund at Wembley in last season’s group stage.

They’ve hardly been in the sparkling form they were last autumn but they did impress in winning 3-0 at Manchester United not too long ago and were rather unfortunate to lose away to Inter Milan a fortnight back. Since then they’ve recorded back-to-back Premier League victories away from home so do appear to have turned a corner after a ropey few weeks.

You can get Tottenham and the draw onside in the double-chance market at 1.80 which given Barca’s recent troubles looks fair enough.