Champions League Preview – November 7

The Champions League has already provided plenty of thrills and spills and Wednesday’s action promises more drama in Europe’s top club competition.

United unlikely to trouble Juve

It was another case of Manchester United being second best for long swathes on Saturday at Bournemouth. However, the Cherries let anxiety get the beter of them, dropping deeper as the game progressed and Marcus Rashford grabbed a late goal to secure a 2-1 win.

Attack seems to be the best form of defence for the Red Devils at the moment, but Jose Mourinho is unlikely to set his side out to take the game by the scruff of the neck, when they travel to Juventus in Group H.

The Bianconeri are yet to lose this season, already sitting six points clear in Serie A and on course for an eighth-straight title. With domestic domination almost a given, European success is where it is at for Massimiliano Allegri’s men.

Losing finalists in 2015 and 2017, signing Cristiano Ronaldo appears to have provided them with an extra edge and the way they controlled the game in their 1-0 win at Old Trafford demonstrated the gulf in class between the two sides.

Ronaldo will be desperate to score against his former club and is a Special price 8.00 to bag a header and with Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli still arguably the three best defenders in Europe, a home win to zero looks hard to ignore at 2.40.

City to dominate Shakhtar

While United flounder, Manchester City soar and should have no issues against Shakhtar Donetsk at the Etihad.

Last’s month 3-0 win in Ukraine saw City go top of Group F to readdress the balance following their shock opening defeat against Lyon. While a trip to France is still to come, Pep Guardiola’s team look the boys to beat in this pool and will not fear Shakhtar.

The Hirnyky strengthened their position at the top of the Ukrainian Premier League on Saturday thanks to Viktor Kovalenko’s late winner against Dynamo Kiev and did beat the Citizens in Kharkiv last season.

However, it was a 2-0 home win when they met at the Etihad, a scoreline that is 7.75 to be repeated, with another home victory to zero available at just 1.68.

After putting six past Southampton on Sunday, City will look to cut loose again and it might not be a bad idea considering the 1.83 for over 3.5 goals in this one.

Back Bayern to produce a performance

Niko Kovac’s first few months in charge of Bayern Munich have hardly been smooth and his transition from Eintracht Frankfurt is still to ignite. Wednesday against AEK Athens could be the night his side start to re-emerge as European contenders.

Bayern won 2-0 last month at the Olympiakos and Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Freiburg ended a run of four straight victories.

AEK drew 0-0 with Athens rivals Panathinaikos at the weekend and are struggling for consistency, currently sitting fourth in the Super League. They have also lost all three of their Group E fixtures and look short of the necessary quality for this competition.

Kovac’s side are the clear favourites at 1.08 and it seems the right call to search elsewhere in search of value. The Half-time/Full-time on Bayern is 1.32 and those who like the goal markets may look for something different. Robert Lewandowski is a Player Props special price of 7.00 to hit the woodwork, while over 4.5 goals is 2.85.

Exciting Ajax to make a statement

There was a spell in the mid-nineties when Ajax touched greatest with a young, vibrant and mostly homegrown team. Louis van Gaal’s side won the Champions League in 1995, lost to Juventus in the following year’s final and went down to the same opponents in the semi-finals in 1997.

Van Gaal himself has said the current crop of youngsters have similar potential to that vintage and having outplayed Bayern, can beat Benfica on Wednesday. October’s 1-0 win in Amsterdam has put them in a strong position in Group E and a first Champions League away victory since 2011, at 3.00, will justify the hype surrounding Erik ten Hag’s side.

Benfica have lost their last three in all competitions and with them sitting fourth in the Primeira Liga, appear a team in transition under Rui Vitoria. As Aguias have a squad that has a lot of youngsters and plenty of veterans and perhaps not enough in the middle.

While Ajax’s young squad play with an almost ingrained awareness of each other’s surroundings, Benfica seem to lack that kind of understanding.

Winning on Wednesday would all but guarantee Ajax’s spot in the last 16 of this competition, for the first time since 2005-06, and would make the rest of Europe sit up and take notice.

Will the Real Los Blancos please stand up

It has been a nightmare campaign for Real Madrid and after scraping past Real Valladolid at the weekend, interim coach Santiago Solari takes his team to Viktoria Plzen.

A 2-1 win over the Czech side last month helped them recover from a defeat to CSKA Moscow but there is something not right in the Bernabeu dressing room, and it appears this current side’s domination of European football is about to come to an end.

Plzen have won their last eight at home in the Czech Liga and are 11.75 to cause an upset. Their form and Real’s issues mean the away win at 1.25 looks ridiculously short.

Goals could be the answer, while those who like something different may take note of the fact that there has been at least one goal after 75 minutes in five of Real’s last six outings and a repeat of that is 1.76.

Look for Lyon, CSKA and Valencia

A pair of high-scoring draws followed Lyon’s opening win over Manchester City, but home advantage should get them over the line against Hoffenheim.

Julian Nagelsmann’s side won 4-1 at Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday but at home on a European night, Lyon can be frightening and should win with both teams scoring at 2.65.

Last year’s beaten semi-finalists Roma face a tough but not impossible task, of taking on a CSKA side who have already beaten Real.

The Giallorossi drew at Fiorentina over the weekend but have lost their last six on the road in all competitions and at 4.05, the Koni could inflict a seventh at what is likely to be a rocking Luzhniki Stadium.

Finally, and despite a shocking recent run, which includes Saturday’s 1-0 home defeat to Girona, Valencia can finally grab a first Champions League triumph of the campaign against Young Boys.

That result to zero comes in at 2.50.