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Play your cards right in the Champions League…

Wednesday 28th October 2020

In Across the Leagues today:

  • Champions League tonight…
  • Man Utd v RB Leipzig…
  • Juventus v Barcelona…

Play your cards right in the Champions League…

Champions League match-day two continues with eight more games this evening…

Coronavirus continues to overshadow everything, it seems. In terms of today’s football, that includes Lazio missing a significant chunk of their squad for the trip to Club Brugge – most notably their main striker Ciro Immobile.

And with Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo testing positive for the virus again this week, that means we won’t get to see Ronaldo and Lionel Messi on the same pitch for Juve v Barcelona.

In terms of the betting markets, today’s Champions League ‘shorties’ include this quartet of forwards, all chalked up at odds-on prices to score Anytime in tonight’s games: Timo Werner (Chelsea), Kylian Mbappe & Neymar (PSG), and Erling Braut Haaland (Borussia Dortmund).

On the Match Result front, Dortmund are the biggest home win favourite of the day in the Champions League, at 2/7 (1.29) to bounce back from defeat at Lazio last week and beat Zenit St Petersburg.

On the road in the early 5.55pm kick off, last season’s beaten Champions League finalists PSG are the shortest of the lot, at just 2/9 (1.22) to get their first points of the 2020/21 Group stage, having lost at home v Man Utd last week. The French champions face Basaksehir in Turkey.

The quest for betting value takes you & I to the disciplinary markets this evening, as well as the ‘Draw No Bet’ option in the Match Result subsidiaries…

Man Utd v RB Leipzig

Man Utd are the 6/5 (2.2) favourites here, but a home win in an empty stadium for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side is not something I’m putting much faith in here, at less than appealing odds.

Neither of these sides lose many games. So far this season in all competitions, Man Utd’s record is: W5 D1 L2. Those two defeats both came at Old Trafford. Losing at home to Crystal Palace (1-3) and Tottenham (1-6) in the Premier League.

Last season’s Champions League semi finalists RB Leipzig are unbeaten so far in 2020/21, with a match record of: W6 D1 L0. Julian Nagelsmann’s side showed their strength on the road last season, winning 1-0 at Tottenham in this competition, and holding champions Bayern Munich to a 0-0 draw in the Bundesliga.

United have kept three clean sheets in eight games this season, against Chelsea, Brighton, and Luton. Leipzig have scored 2+ goals in six of their seven games this season. And the German outfit have only once failed to find the net in 10 away games in all comps.

These two clubs both got three points on match-day one, putting them ahead of PSG in the early Group H standings. Only two of Man Utd, Leipzig and PSG (and Basaksehir) can progress through to the Knockouts after Christmas. It’s only match-day two of six, but this is an important match.

The Red Bull club are 23/10 (3.3) for the away win here. With all of the above in mind, my take is that the value lies with the visitors, with the Draw No Bet (or ‘0 Asian Handicap’) option for Leipzig at around 11/8 (2.38). Covering the underdog win, and protecting stakes in the event of a draw.

Upamecano for a card…

Much has been written about Dayot Upamecano ahead of this game. The highly-rated 22-year-old French centre back is being talked of as a big transfer target for Man Utd next season, as well as other clubs across Europe & the Premier League.

One trend I’ve noticed for the rangy young RB Leipzig defender though, is his tendency to pick up yellow cards

Last season in the Champions League, Upamecano was booked in three of his five appearances in the Group stage. From 9th February until the eventual conclusion of the 2019/20 campaign, he was carded in six out of 15 games in all comps, including one red card.

So far in 2020/21, Upamecano has received yellows in four out of 10 appearances for club & country combined. Most notably, he’s been booked in each of his last three games.

There’ll be a lot of eyes on this impressive young centre back this evening. Things don’t always go 100% smoothly in such circumstances, and with the likes of the Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford twisting & turning around the box, another yellow is far from out of the question for the French defender here.

Upamecano is touted as one of the fastest centre backs in the game right now. We could see some exciting chases if United manage to play the ball in behind the Leipzig back line tonight…

In the Player to be Booked market, Upamecano is available at odds of 15/8 (2.88). If you fancy something more speculative, he’s 17/2 (9.5) with Bet365 and BetVictor for the First Booking.

Juventus v Barcelona

The cards stats & markets are also of interest for this evening’s other popcorn match in the Champions League, Juventus v Barcelona

  • 8 of Barcelona’s last 10 Champions League games have paid out on Over 4.5 Cards
  • Juventus & Barcelona met in the Champions League in both 2016/17 and 2017/18, with all four matches producing 4+ Total Cards

Bet365 go 5/6 (1.83) for an Over 4.5 Cards total tonight. But looking at the recent individual tallies for each team, it’s harder to make a case for that line and price as any particular value:

  • In 3 of their last 6 games in all comps, Barca have received one card or less. The same goes for Juve in 2 of their 5 matches this season

Nevertheless, there’s plenty in the stats to draw us towards a discipline-based bet here…

Penalty-kick potential…

Tonight’s referee is the top-level Dutchman, Danny Makkelie. He’s awarded penalties in three of his last six assignments (including one Champions League match). And across eight outings overall this season, Makkelie has dished out a total of three red cards.

The penalty angle is the one that spikes my attention. Two of Juventus’s last four games have seen a penalty scored. And so far in 2020/21, no less than four of Barcelona’s six games have also featured penalties.
If Barca get one tonight, Lionel Messi is the man most likely to be stepping up from 12 yards. He’s scored two goals so far this term, and they’ve both been pens. Messi is a top price 6/5 (2.2) to score Anytime.

There’ll be no Ronaldo to fire home from the spot for Juventus tonight. New signing Alvaro Morata could be handed the ball; he was on penalty-taking duties for Atletico Madrid last season (scored three). Paulo Dybala scored a couple of pens for Juve in Ronaldo’s absence last term. Morata is 15/8 (2.88) to score tonight, Dybala is 2/1 (3.0).

Going back to past meetings between these European giants, two of their last four encounters have ended in 0-0 draws. If tonight’s clash ends up being a close one, it could be a game-changing moment like a penalty that decides it. And with VAR always lurking in the background, that only adds to the case.

A goal from the spot…

Lots to chew on there. The market that my analysis takes me to is for there to be a Penalty Scored in the Match. Both teams’ stats for the season to date, along with the referee’s current record, suggests a goal via penalty in this game is more likely than the odds suggest…

At William Hill you can get 7/4 (2.75) for a ‘Penalty Taken.’ With that penalty-awarded-in-the-match option around 6/4 (2.5) elsewhere, including Boylesports, Bet365, 888 Sport, Unibet and Marathonbet.

All the penalties I mentioned above were successfully converted. With that in mind, taking the larger odds for a penalty to be scored is the route that gets the nod from me...

Options there include ‘Penalty Awarded and Scored’ at 13/5 (3.6) with William Hill, and ‘Penalty Scored’ at 11/5 (3.2) with Paddy Power & Betfair Sportsbook.

Alternatively, you might choose to instead split your stake between ‘Juventus to score a penalty’ and ‘Barcelona to score a penalty’ at 9/2 (5.5) each with Bet365, 888 Sport & Unibet. Or each team for a penalty in the ‘Method of Goal’ market at BetVictor, at 3/1+ each (4.0+).

Today’s picks

Champions League
8pm – BT Sport

Man Utd v RB Leipzig

  • RB Leipzig – Draw No Bet @ 11/8 (2.38) with Betfred, Boylesports, 13/10 (2.3) William Hill, BetVictor, 5/4 (2.25) in general
  • Player to be Booked – Dayot Upamecano @ 15/8 (2.88) with Bet365, 888 Sport, Unibet, 9/5 (2.8) William Hill, Skybet, 8/5 (2.6) Betway

Juventus v Barcelona

  • Penalty Awarded and Scored @ 13/5 (3.6) with William Hill, 11/5 (3.2) Paddy Power, Betfair Sportsbook

I’ll be back tomorrow, when we’ll be focusing on Thursday’s fixture list in the Europa League.

Enjoy the football…

Best wishes,

Oliver Upstone

Oliver Upstone

Across the Leagues