Sam Hendry outlines his best bets for the midweek Champion’s League matches
My first bet for this week comes from the east end of Glasgow where Celtic take on Paris-Saint Germain at Celtic Park. This should be an entertaining one for the neutrals as the most expensive strike force in world football take on Brendan Rodgers’ attractive young side. As is always the case for a Rodgers managed team, Celtic are more renowned for their attack than their defence and this could be their undoing up against the Ligue 1 leaders. Central defence is the obvious problem area for the Hoops with Jozo Simunovic currently the only fit recognised senior centre back ahead of this game. The options to partner him are limted and include untested 19-year old Kristoffer Ajer, the prospects of which will have Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, Edinson Cavani et al salivating in anticipation. Celtic have goal threats throughout their side and can trouble PSG; the added element in their favour being the rabid atmosphere created by the fans at a sold-out Celtic Park. But the wealth of attacking talent at the Parisian team’s disposal should prove too much and the selection here is PSG to win with both teams scoring, which is available at 8/5.
Tuesday night also sees the return of Champions League football to Old Trafford with Basel the visitors. Despite finishing only sixth in the EPL last time out, United’s Europa League triumph handed them a back-door entrance to Europe’s elite competition. Basel romped to the Swiss championship last year, but currently sit third in the table after seven games and have a leakier defence than they would like, conceding 9 times in their opening 7 matches and keeping only one clean sheet. They will need to shore up considerably to keep out United’s fast and powerful attack which has started the 2017/18 campaign in red-hot form. Jose Mourinho’s side have developed a habit of scoring late goals and I would expect that to continue here with Basel putting up a good fight before succumbing to the likes of Lukaku, Pogba and Rashford. United to win at a -2 handicap at 9/5 with Betfair Sports would be my pick.
The Champions League record goalscorer Cristiano Ronaldo is the subject of my third bet of the week. Currently serving a five-match domestic suspension for pushing the referee in the Spanish Super Cup tie with Barcelona, the prancing Portugese superstar is set to return to the side for Real’s home tie against APOEL Nicosia. Madrid have struggled in the absence of their talisman, dropping valuable points at home to Valencia and Levante. Three consecutive matches without a win at the Bernabeu is near incomprehensible for the demanding ‘Madridistas’ and if they’re not careful, APOEL will find themselves in the unenviable position of being the lambs to Real and Ronaldo’s slaughter. I expect the current holders of the trophy to lay down a marker for the rest of the campaign here and Ronaldo to score a brace at 23/20 with Corals is an attractive prospect.