Champions League Group Stage Matchday 4

It was a pretty wild Tuesday in the Champions League as Brugge almost took down Real Madrid at the Bernabeau but settled for a draw, Bayern murdered Spurs 7-2 and PSG, Juve and Atletico all get wins.

This Season: 45-39-17 (+6.1 Units)
UCL Matchday 3: 5-3 (+1.6 Units)

That’s +6 units since 9/16 and 5 straight blogs with winning numbers. Love to see it.

Wednesday, October 2nd
12:55 pm EST

Napoli @ Genk – Napoli host Genk who aren’t having the season they thought they’d have. The Belgian side is currently 4-2-4 in the league and Champions League this year with a -1 goal differential. They’ve conceded 19 goals in those 10 matches and sit in 6th place in the Belgian First Division. In their first Champions League match they conceded 6 to Salzburg in a big 6-2 loss. They’ll be facing a Napoli side who are scoring goals for fun and running with some of the better teams in Europe (barely losing at Juve due to an own goal and beating Liverpool in MW1). I like Napoli to not only score a lot of goals against this leaky Genk defense, but to shut them out as well. I’ll take the Italians. Napoli -1.5 (+120).

Borussia Dortmund @ Slavia Prague (TV: TNT) – Both of these teams had great results in Matchweek 1 as Prague went to the San Siro and drew Inter Milan 1-1 while Dortmund went to Barcelona and played them to a scoreless draw. Dortmund have been an enigma this season though, with big wins but also some disappointing results. Their most recent two matches in the Bundesliga were both 2-2 draws, away to Frankfurt and home to Werder Bremen. You never know which Dortmund you’re going to get this season and it’s a warning sign for bettors. Prague meanwhile are 9-2-0 in the Czech league, conceding only 2 goals in 11 matches so far. They ran with Inter the entire match two weeks ago, almost equaling them in possession and equaling them in shots on target. I’m going to be bold and take them as home dogs here, not trusting myself to bet on an extremely unpredictable Dortmund team. Slavia Prague +0.5 (-110).

3:00 pm EST

Salzburg @ Liverpool – Salzburg are on absolute fire right now. They’re 8-1-0 in the Austian Bundesliga with 40 goals scored in 9 matches and a +31 goal differential. Their 19-year-old striker Erling Braut Haland is almost unstoppable but will have to face one of the better defensive lines in all of Europe. But Salzburg isn’t going to change their tactics for Liverpool and I think they will cause a lot more problems than some will expect. Liverpool will likely win this game but I think 1.5 goals is too much of a spread here, even at Anfield. Liverpool have covered once in their last five matches and haven’t covered a spread of more than 1 goal in their last three opportunities. I’ll take the points. Salzburg +1.5 (-110).

Inter Milan @ FC Barcelona (TV: TNT) – Here’s the best match from the Wednesday slate and probably the entire week. Messi is questionable after sustaining a thigh injury shortly after recovering from a calf injury. I think Valverde will hold him out of the starting XI at the least, knowing that rushing him back again could lead to another injury. Dembele will also be a game time decision but Ansu Fati, Jordi Alba and Umtiti have all been ruled out. They face an Inter team who currently sit atop the Serie A table after going 6-0-0 in the league with a +11 goal differential. They’ve been a tough team to score on and I think they’re fitting into Conte’s system very well. They’re also much healthier than Barcelona and I think a 1-goal spread is too much here. If Messi can’t go, Barca are in trouble. They tend to still play like he’s on the field when he’s not, and they try to force everything instead of sticking to the basics. I like Inter to go into the Camp Nou and make it tough on Barca, especially if they’re without the best player on the planet. Inter Milan +1 (-110).

Lyon @ RB Leipzig – Lyon are in some serious trouble right now. Not only did they draw Zenit at home in MW1, but they’re sitting in 8th in Ligue 1 and are without a win in their last six in all competitions. They’ve also had some serious trouble away from home, going their last three without a win. Leipzig are on the other side of the coin. They’re 4-1-1 in the Bundesliga and were in first place until they slipped up against Schalke at home this past weekend. You have to believe they’ll bounce back quickly against a vulnerable Lyon side, especially when they know 6 points in this group through two matches will give them a big cushion. I like Leipzig here on a 1-goal line that might be undervaluing just how good this Leipzig team really can be. RB Leipzig -1 (+110).

Benfica @ Zenit St. Petersburg – Benfica had a tough loss at home in MW1 agianst Leipzig and now have a bit of a hill to climb, while Zenit went to Lyon and got a good draw. Travelling to St. Petersburg on a few days rest is not an ideal midweek situation and I don’t feel like Benfica are ready for it. Their only other big matches were against Leipzig (2-1 loss) and at home to Porto (2-0 loss), both were at home and both were losses. They now go to Russia to face a Zenit team that should be taken seriously. Benfica are also nursing a slew of injuries while Zenit is pretty much healthy. I’ll take the Russians at home on the pickem line. Zenit St. Petersburg Pickem (-140).

Ajax @ Valencia – The two teams atop the group will be facing off in what could be a huge six-point swing if someone can get a win. To me, these two teams don’t have a lot separating them since they’re both in good form and they’re getting the results that they should be getting. But Valencia going to Chelsea a few weeks ago in MW1 was a huge swing for this team. Since then they’ve grinded to two tough draws and went to Athletic Bilbao and won 1-0, giving Bilbao’s first loss of the year at home. The one thing that worries me a bit about Ajax is that they haven’t played a ton of road matches recently, playing only three away matches in their last eight total. They’re 1-2-0 in those matches with their only win came against Sparta Rotterdam (?) and the draws were at PSV Eindhoven and APOEL. I’m going to play it safe and take the home pickem here, with not much to separate these two teams. Valencia Pickem (-115).

Chelsea @ Lille – Chelsea now find themselves in a must-win situation, knowing this is probably the weakest opponent and best chance to get points away from home. But after Lille’s slow start to the season, they’ve begun to pick it up a bit. They are undefeated in their last four league matches and are 4-0-0 at home this season so far. Chelsea have had four straight home games and split them 2-2, with the losses coming against Valencia and Liverpool. They aren’t winning the games that are supposed to be competitive or close and Lille are starting to heat up. It’s a recipe for disaster and I can’t bring myself to picking Chelsea as road favorites here. I’ll be safe and take the points. Lille +0.5 (-130).

Stay Kickin’ It. Peace.

Twitter: @nicodegallo

Nico

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