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The UEFA Champions League is one of the premier football tournaments in the world and the main draw begins with the first round proper, pitting 32 teams through 6 games in the group stages; where the top 2 from each group then progress to the next stage.
Sevilla come into this encounter after picking up their first of the season away from home in the league for over a year, and that should help them coming into this game with Dinamo Zagreb. They took an early lead and then were pegged to 2-2 before stealing it late on by a scoreline of 3-2. Vietto and Ben Yedder have been up front and will need to deliver a strong showing against a struggling Dinamo Zagreb team in this encounter. Sevilla come into the game with a good run of games beating Lyon, Betis, Leganes, Las Palmas while also snatching a critical 0-0 draw against Juventus away from home. They will look to this game to build their lead in the table along with Juventus to be among the top 2 to qualify out of this table. Injuries have plagued them especially with Adil Rami and Daniel Carrico, left back Benoit Tremoulinas out with injury at the back, which has seen them concede goals in their last 3 away games in all competitions.
Dinamo Zagreb have been struggling in Europe since the loss of several key players this summer in Pjaca, Rog along with manager Kranjcar who resigned from the team. Since his departure, they have looked edgy with a 4-0 loss to Juventus at home, a 0-0 against rivals Hajduk Split and a 1-0 away win at Slaven Koprivnica. While they remain second in the table, goals seem to be at a premium for them as they have only netted 19 goals in 12 games in a lowly Croatian league. Sevilla will be coming to town, watching the footage of their performance against Juventus and Lyon and be aiming to exploit them also on the counter attack.
Sevilla have the firepower in their ranks and will need to push for a win if they are to qualify from the group, knowing that Lyon and Juventus will not give up till the last game; and I expect Sevilla to win this game by a couple of goals.
UEFA Champions League Group Stage
CSKA Moscow v Monaco – Both to Score @ 1.88 (888Sport) – 2.5 points
CSKA Moscow come into this game against Monaco in front of their home fans after losing to Tottenham 3 weeks ago in the Champions league by a narrow 1-0 scoreline. Prior to that they drew 2-2 with Bayer Leverkusen away from home. Victory is definitely needed in this game in this very tight group in order for them to even have a chance of retaining a spot in the Europa League in a keenly contested group. The big problem for CSKA has been their struggles even in the league this season, where they are sitting in 3rd with just 6 wins from 10 games, and only netting 11 goals during this time. The new rules in Russia of the number of foreign players have diminished their holding as they had to get rid of a few players with Lancina Traore and Ermenko leading their attacking line failing to create a major impact this season. CSKA on the other hand have bene leaking goals and have done so in 6 out of their last 7 games; which opposition Monaco will be looking into scoring.
Monaco on the other hand are in decent scoring form coming into this competition, sitting third in their domestic table, finding the back of the net in 14 out of 15 games played this season; netting a strong 33 goals in those 15 games. With their goal scoring ability spread all across the pitch through talents at their disposal including Bernard, Coutinho, Traore, Falcao, Fabinho they can score from anywhere. Defensively, away from home is where Monaco has proven to be shaky leaking goals in 7 out of 8 away games including losses 4-0 to Nice and 3-1 to Toulouse this past weekend. The tactics of manager Jardim has changed to more attacking focus as compared to defense in order for them to steal more points in victories, which sees them just 4 points behind leaders Nice. Monaco already have an advantage in this competition leading their group with 4 points out of 6; and will need at least a draw out of this to keep them in the hunt towards the top of the table.
This game looks to be a good one, with both teams looking to possibly find the back of the net, and I think both teams will likely score in this encounter.
UEFA Champions League Group Stage
Leverkusen v Tottenham – Both to Score @ 1.68 (888Sport) – 3 points
Leverkusen entertain Tottenham knowing that their Champions League hopes are dependent on them securing a result against Tottenham. The positive side for Leverkusen is the they have been in great form scoring up front, netting goals in 9 out of their 10 games played this season so far. They have picked up positive victories against teams like Mainz, Dortmund and Hamburg; but have generally struggled to convert victories which sees them in 10th spot only in the table. Chicharito and Pohjanpalo have netted 9 out of their 11 goals in the domestic front, so a lot will rely on them. They also have the free-kick specialist Calhangolu who can find the back of the net from anywhere of 30 yards out for Leverkusen. Where they have struggled is on the defensive end, conceding goals in 8 out of the 10 games played so far this campaign; and that will need to improve if they have to get out of this group.
Tottenham have had Harry Kane injured, but still continue to churn out results. They will be extremely happy about grabbing some solid victories against Manchester City, CSKA Moscow in recent weeks. This success was even done without Harry Kane in their lineup, which showcases the great supporting cast that they have developed with the likes of Son, Alli, Eriksen, Sissoko, Lamela and Janssen who are ready to carry on the load. Tottenham’s biggest concern will be the absence of Alderweireld and the doubt on Danny Rose which has plagued them in recent weeks on the injury front. Tottenham have conceded goals in 3 out of their 5 games played away from home and particularly Alderweireld will be missed to keep this record.
Both teams will look to advance their Champions League hopes; with Tottenham in a decent position domestically, they can afford to over-commit on the European front; while Leverkusen have been generally very open and attacking in their play so you an expect goals from them. This should be an entertaining encounter, and I am backing both teams to score in this one.
UEFA Champions League Group Stage
Sporting v Dortmund – Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.75 (888Sport) – 2 points
Sporting v Dortmund – 4.5 Corners @ 1.56 (888Sport) – 5 points
Sporting Lisbon host group leaders Dortmund in what should promise to be a highly entertaining encounter. Sporting come into this game after some great performances so far this campaign. While they beat Legia Warsaw, the main performance saw them lose very narrowly to Real Madrid after leading 1-0 for 89 minutes. On the domestic front, they have matched the leaders stride for stride, sitting joint 2nd with 16 points from 7 games so far. What is clear to see from Sporting games is that they are not afraid to attack the opposition with 16 goals scored in 7 games played on the domestic front. Bas Dost, Gelson Martins and Joel Campbell have been the ones leading their line along with set piece goals from Sebastian Coates. The Sporting team will look at their opponent Dortmund’s recent games where they have conceded in 5 straight games including against teams like Leverkusen, Wolfsburg, Freiburg and Hertha. This will give them confidence that they will be able to put on a scoring effort against them.
Borussia Dortmund had started out the season extremely well, but have just lost the boil over the last 3 games, where they have failed to pick up a victory yet. A 2-2 draw against Madrid, was followed by a 2-0 loss to Leverkusen and a 1-1 draw against Hertha Berlin this past Friday. Aubamayeng has been in outstanding form this season already netting 6 times in 7 games domestically while netting both Champions League games played until now. He is their main target man and is quite well backed up by a supporting cast including Gotze, Dembele, Schurrle and Kagawa who provide the team with pace and great passing ability to find the back of the net. Their opponents Sporting have 3 out of their last 4 away games, that too against lowly opposition like Madrid, Rio Ave and Vitoria.
Because games away from home tend to be more difficult, Dortmund land up having more corners as has seen where they have got a minimum of 5 corners in 8 out of 9 competitive games played already this season. Away from home their line has typically been 4.5 corners, which has landed in games against Real Madrid, Leverkusen with the only one failing has been against Wolfsburg. In all other encounters they have had the line of 5.5 corners, and easily surpassed that also.
This game looks like it will be the one for the neutrals, with a lot of chances being created in this game, and we can expect lots of goals coming out of this encounter, and thats where I will go to. Over 2.5 goals in this game is my pick for this match.