A tough week has finally come after 9 straight blogs without a negative record, but that’s how the game goes. Good handicappers know there will be ups and downs and it’s about making sure you limit the amount of downs while trying to ride the highs.
This Season’s Record: 55-49-10 (+1.1 Units)
Matchweek 8 Record: 2-6-0 (-4.9 Units)
Outside the 18
Messi – Messi has fractured his arm just a week prior to El Clasico, but will only be out for 3 weeks. This will mark the first time El Clasico will be without Messi and Ronaldo in 11 years and it should be very interesting to see how both sides are playing going into Sunday’s match. Can FC Barcelona triumph without their star man and can Real Madrid shake their 3 match losing streak and 5 match winless streak.
Big Match Results – Inter beat Milan in the Milan Derby due to an injury time goal from Icardi, Chelsea drew United after a 96th minute equalizer, Real Madrid lost to Levante making it 0 wins in their last 5, Juventus dropped their first points at home to Genoa and FC Barcelona take control of La Liga after a 4-2 win over Sevilla.
Tuesday, October 22
3:00 pm EST
Manchester City @ Shakhtar Donetsk – Man City will travel to Ukraine where they take on Shakhtar in a revenge match from last season where the Ukrainians won 2-1 in the group stage. City are playing really well right now as they are undefeated in their last six and are coming off of a confident 5-0 drubbing of Burnley. Pep has been downplaying their Champions League hopes and they will need a good result if they want to lock up this group. Good teams who are in form win these matches and I think Pep will have them ready to play in a big opportunity to turn their Champions League doubts into expectations. I like City to win 2-0 here. Manchester City (-1.5, -110).
Lyon @ Hoffenheim – Lyon are somehow underdogs in this one as they sit atop the Group F standings. I know Vegas thinks Hoffenheim will come out since it’s a must-win match for them but this is a team that’s only won one of their last 4 matches and haven’t won at home since 9/1. Lyon have had only one loss in their last eight matches, a big loss to PSG, and I think picking them as an underdog has a lot of value since a draw wins you the bet. Lyon (+0.5, -135).
Juventus @ Manchester United – Juve’s perfect record was finally snapped this weekend with a home draw to Genoa. United meanwhile have been in horrible form as their only win in their last 6 has been at home in a comeback win against winless Newcastle. Ronaldo will be returning to his old home and you know he is going to show out, but in general Juventus is just a much more complete club than Manchester United and they’re built to limit good teams chances. I love them here on the pickem line. Juventus Pickem (-125).
Benfica @ Ajax – Benfica ride into Amsterdam having to face a first-place Ajax team that drew at Bayern 1-1 just a few weeks ago. This young Ajax team really took it to Bayern by limiting their chances in the box and they will look to make it really hard for Benfica to score. If they can limit Benfica’s chances and play like they have all season at home (6-1-0, 19 pts, +21 goal differential) then I’m confident in them to take all three points here to all but ensure qualification into the Round of 16. Ajax (-0.5, -110).
Wednesday, October 24th
12:55 pm EST
Tottenham @ PSV – Spurs find themselves in a must-win game here as they need 3 points if they want to challenge Inter/Barca for the second spot in Group B. They travel to the Netherlands after a big London Derby win against West Ham and in decent form, but deserve to be way more than a (-0.5) favorite in this one. Spurs are cut from a different cloth compared to this PSV team who lost to Inter and Barca by a combined 6-1 and they know they need to win this one. I love Spurs here and I’m willing to risk 2 units on them. 2 UNITS, Tottenham (-0.5, +110).
Schalke @ Galatasaray – Schalke’s season couldn’t have started off any more poorly, but they did respond with three straight wins before the international break. The results weren’t great ones, but it was good for their confidence. They travel to Istanbul to face Galtasaray in a really hostile Champions League environment where Galatasaray are very tough to beat. But I think Schalke’s confidence and quality will cause as many problems as Galatasaray’s grit and environment and this one feels like a draw, especially with the +220 price. Draw (+220).
Atletico Madrid @ Borussia Dortmund – Although both are hot right now, Dortmund could be considered as the hottest team in the world right now as they haven’t lost all season and have won 5 straight. They sit atop the group with Atletico and can really lock things up with a win here, and they will be at home where they are 5-0 with a combined score of 21-5. You’d be a fool to fade Dortmund at home on the pickem line. Borussia Dortmund Pickem (-125).
Inter Milan @ FC Barcelona – FC Barcelona’s already tough week just got a whole lot tougher as the best player in the world, Lionel Messi, broke his arm and will miss around 3 weeks. They had a really tough match on Saturday for first place, play a really tough Inter team who just won their biggest match of the season so far and will be playing Real Madrid in El Clasico this upcoming weekend. I want to fade FC Barcelona here as there are too many things up against them and I expect a few changes before El Clasico this weekend. Inter have been winning big games all year and this is a perfect opportunity for them to keep that going. Inter Milan (+1, +110).
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Stay Kickin’ It. Peace.