Monday 19th October 2020
In Across the Leagues today:
Our weekend picks kept things ticking over for us – thanks to that man Zlatan Ibrahimovic…
Zlatan scored both goals in AC Milan’s 2-1 derby win over Inter. Landing the First Goalscorer odds at 9/2 (5.5), just 13 minutes into his return to the side, after having had to spend his 39th birthday self-isolating after a positive coronavirus test.
It was straight back to business for the remarkable ‘veteran’ (it hardly seems fair to refer to him as such, given his Peter Pan-like achievements):
The Swedish star sits joint-top of the scorer charts in Serie A with four goals in 2020/21 – and his Milan side sit top of the league.
Other points of note from the Italian top-flight over the weekend…
In fact, six of those nine fixtures saw Over 3.5 Goals, with score-lines including 5-2, 3-2, 2-3, 3-4 and 4-1.
When I was a young man, Serie A was the home of the ‘tactical’ 0-0 bore draw. Not anymore.
Our big focus this week is the start of the 2020/21 Champions League…
The action starts tomorrow, with eight Group games on the Tuesday schedule, followed by eight more on Wednesday night.
The stadiums remain empty, but the familiar Champions League theme tune will still be playing in grounds and on TV sets across Europe… and as the 2019/20 UEFA ‘mini tournaments’ showed this summer, European cup action can still be very much enjoyed in these conditions.
I’m kicking off Part I of our ante post preview today with a first venture into the Top Goalscorer market…
In 2018/19, I backed Robert Lewandowski to be top scorer at 12/1 – and his Bayern Munich side to win the tournament, at 10/1. Call it foreshadowing, or more likely, Sod’s Law, that that combo then went on to deliver a year later… with Lewandowski smashing in 15 goals in the 2019/20 campaign, on the way to Bayern lifting the Champions League trophy.
This time, on the eve of the new 2020/21 competition, the Polish striker is installed as the bookmakers’ 4/1 favourite to be Top Goalscorer. With the German champions 4/1 joint-favourites with Man City in the Outright Winner betting.
Last season, 20/1 Harry Kane and 66/1 Timo Werner gave a good account of themselves, for Tottenham and RB Leipzig, respectively…
Kane scored six goals, enough to land a very modest share of the Each Way spoils, tied joint-4th with four other players. Werner got four goals, before signing for Chelsea, and therefore not taking part in any of the knockout matches when the 2019/20 tournament concluded this summer.
This season, Harry & Spurs have to settle for Europa League football (more on that competition this Thursday).
Werner, meanwhile, having just opened his Premier League account for Chelsea, is 20/1 in the Champions League Top Goalscorer market. Not a patch on the 66/1 & 50/1 we took for him last season.
Talking of price shifts, 20-year-old Erling Braut Haaland was a 100/1 rank outsider in this market last season. Having now moved from Salzburg to Borussia Dortmund, the Norwegian youngster is around 8/1 to finish top of the pile in the Champions League 2020/21. Last season, he was 2nd with 10 goals.
Our best tactic with Haaland in this campaign might be to look out for him at decent prices (if we can get them) in the match-day markets. So far in his extremely impressive young career, he’s scored in six out of eight Champions League appearances.
As ever, you and I are looking to scoop up some Each Way value. With four places to shoot at, we can back two or three players over the course of the season – always with the attractive end of the odds in mind…
The big guns are hard to argue with in terms of scoring pedigree. Lewandowski took the award last season. And before that, Ronaldo & Messi dominated the Outright market for a phenomenal 12 seasons in a row between them.
Two players for us to get behind at nice prices from day one…
Raheem Sterling @ 20/1
As with the case made for Kane at 20/1 in this competition last season, Raheem Sterling is a proven Premier League scorer, and already more than competent at finding the net with regularity in Europe, too…
The twinkle-toed Man City attacker got 20 goals in the Premier League last season, 17 the year before, and 18 the season before that. Those tallies had him there or thereabouts in the Top 4 places in the English top-flight’s scorer charts.
In the Champions League, Sterling got six goals last season, putting him in that five-way tie with Kane for the 4th Each Way place.
The 25-year-old started the current Premier League campaign at 10/1 – 14/1 to be top scorer. Considering Raheem has found the net at least once in eight of his last 16 Champions League appearances – and that he lines up in attack for the tournament joint-favourites, Man City. Odds of 20/1 Each Way make plenty of appeal for Sterling in the Champions League.
Man City are heavy odds-on favourites to come top of Group B, priced at 1/4 (1.25) to finish in first place ahead of Porto, Marseille and Olympiakos. It’s not outrageous to suggest that Sterling could grab himself a handful of goals across those six Group-stage matches…
Sterling goes into the opening Group game at home v Porto this week at odds-on to score Anytime, and with goals in each of his last three appearances for City in all competitions.
Romelu Lukaku @ 33/1
As the key stat above shows, getting out of your Group is paramount when it comes to finding an Each Way contender. Inter Milan are odds-on at 8/15 (1.53) to qualify in the top two spots in Group B. The Italians are 9/4 (3.25) second favourites to win the Group, behind Real Madrid – and ahead of Borussia Monchengladbach and Shakhtar Donetsk…
Romelu Lukaku was Inter’s top scorer in Serie A last term, with 23 goals – putting him 3rd in the league standings. In the Europa League, the Belgian striker’s goals helped Inter all the way to the final.
Across recent seasons combined (and different clubs), Lukaku scored in a record 11 Europa League games in a row. In terms of the two UEFA tournaments overall, the former Man Utd man has found the net in each of his last eight chronological appearances in these European competitions.
After a fantastic season in front of goal in 2019/20, the 27-year-old has hit the ground running again in 2020/21. Bagging a total of seven goals in seven games for club & country since September.
As with Sterling for City, Lukaku is odds-on to kick off with a goal in the Champions League on Wednesday, with Inter at home v Monchengladbach.
In recent times, Lukaku has delivered on all stages – in the Milan derby last weekend, in both Belgium games last week, in the Europa League final this summer… odds of 33/1 Each Way could turn out to be underestimating his chances in the Champions League.
In the Outright Winner market, Inter are 33/1 for the Champions League, and Man City are 4/1. At 20/1 and 33/1 respectively, I’d rather be on Sterling and Lukaku, with four Each Way places to play for.
Champions League 2020/21
Each Way terms: 1/4 odds 1-4 places.
I’ll be back tomorrow with Part II of our Champions League preview, ready for the Tuesday evening kick-off.
Enjoy the football…