The football season has been the gift that keeps on giving in 2017/18 so far, and after a brilliant weekend of action across the continent’s elite divisions we now have the first Champions League gameweek to enjoy.
The group stage may be six gameweeks long, but all involved will certainly want to get their campaigns off to the best possible start, so a decent showing on Tuesday/Wednesday is essential to all sides with one eye on the final in Kiev next May.
With that in mind, who looks to be the best betting value in the Champions League matches this week?
A Beautiful Beginning in Barcelona
A Barcelona vs Juventus game is strong enough to be the final of any tournament, and so it’s a bit of a treat to see it taking its place as the highlight of week one.
It’s a treat for Barca fans, certainly, who must fancy their side’s chances of claiming an essential three points at this early stage. They may have lost Neymar, but Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi walk into any team on the planet, and a midfield triumvirate of Busquets-Rakitic-Iniesta takes some topping too. Add in the God-given potential of new signing Ousmane Dembele, and there’s plenty for the Catalan giants to be thankful for.
Like Barca, Juventus have won their opening trio of league games, but Saturday’s 3-0 victory came at a cost: defensive lynchpin Giorgio Chiellini and Mario Mandzukic both picking up injuries that will keep them out of Tuesday’s contest.
Remember, the Old Lady made the bizarre decision to sell Leonardo Bonucci in the summer, and so without him and Chiellini they look a tad vulnerable against two of the best attackers on planet football. Barca, at 8/11, look more than fair value.
Lisbon More Than a Sporting Chance in Greece
The bookmakers have priced up Olympiakos and Sporting Lisbon at 9/5 and 2/1 respectively, so they are basically insinuating they don’t have the foggiest of how this match will pan out. Neither do we – but we’re willing to get behind the Portuguese side given their excellent start to the campaign.
They’re a perfect five from five in the Primeira Liga with a goal difference of +10, and beat Steaua Bucharest 5-1 on aggregate to qualify for the Champions League proper. They are full of confidence at present.
Manager Jorge Jesus has brought together a squad combing elite experience (Jeremy Mathieu, Fabio Coentrao, Bas Dost) and talented youngsters (Bruno Fernandes, Gelson Martins), and while of course they will miss the excellent Adrien Silva, who has (sort of) joined Leicester, there is certainly enough in the tank to get past a competent but limited Olympiakos outfit. Take the 11/10 on Sporting with a Draw No Bet kicker.
Atletico Ready to Pile More Misery on Roma
It has not been an ideal start for Roma in 2017/18. After a summer in which they lost three of their best players – Antonio Rudiger, Leandro Paredes and Mohamed Salah – and failed to adequately replace them, the Italian outfit have not taken their form from last term into this campaign.
First up they beat Atalanta 1-0 despite registering just one shot on target, before getting thumped 1-3 by Inter Milan next time out. Their third scheduled Serie A match with Sampdoria was postponed due to flooding, so we can see that this is a side firmly behind the eight-ball at present.
Atletico Madrid, Tuesday’s opponents, have been in less than stellar form themselves, but Diego Simeone is a wily old campaigner and he will have his troops in fine fettle for this one.
They have won one and drawn two of their La Liga outings to date, but have had to do so without the suspended Antoine Griezmann, who returns for this match. At 7/4, we’re happy enough to back up our claims that the Frenchman will inspire his side to victory here.
Dortmund Ready to Extend Tottenham’s Wembley Hoodoo
If you consume any amount of football media during the next few weeks you’ll notice a lot of talk about Tottenham’s supposed Wembley curse, and until they string a few decent performances together on home soil that talk will continue.
It must be in the players’ consciousness, and things like that can generally have a negative impact on confidence levels. Borussia Dortmund are as likely as anyone to take advantage.
The Yellow-and-Blacks top the Bundesliga table, admittedly at this early stage, and they are yet to concede a goal. This is a fantastic young side with a proven goal-getter in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang leading the line, and at 23/20 with a +0.00 Asian Handicap they are huge value for Wednesday’s clash.