Is Spurs’ trip to PSV a make-or-break clash? Probably not, but with no points from two matches – and Barcelona and Inter on six each – anything but a win in Eindhoven on Wednesday would probably leave them needing snookers to qualify for the last-16.
This will be far from easy for Mauricio Pochettino’s team; PSV have won all eight of their Eredivisie fixtures this season, although they did get beaten at home to Inter (who, in my opinion are still a weaker team than Spurs) which followed a 4-0 thrashing at the Nou Camp.
Spurs will treat this as a must win, and I believe they’ll do so. It’s easy to forget that they have had their best ever start to a Premier League season, and although they (somewhat unfortunately) lost to Inter on the road, the North Londoners have won four of their five league away games.
Tottenham will beat PSV and keep their Champions League hopes alive.
Forget Liverpool v Red Star or PSV v Spurs – this is the game I’ll be watching closest on Thursday morning.
Two recent against-the-odds title winners – though still European juggernauts in their own right – face-off in a fascinating clash of styles: Dortmund’s adventurous abandon comes up against the Atléti wall; I absolutely cannot wait.
With both sides comfortable on six points (and Club Brugge and Monaco pointless), I suspect both teams will be content with a point, and that’s what I’m backing. Diego Simeone and his Atlético Madrid side are the absolute masters of grinding out results with their backs to the wall – the stat about goalkeeper Jan Oblak having more clean sheets than goals conceded is wonderful – and ultimately a stalemate looks by far the most likely outcome.
While Dortmund have notched up 23 league goals already, their opponents have conceded just four, so don’t be surprised to see a 0-0 or 1-1 come the full-time whistle.
A draw is good value, and I think a likely outcome.
If you don’t succeed…
I foolishly backed a ‘shock’ Monaco home victory against Rennes in my European multi last time around (they lost 2-1 and had a man sent off), but here I am once again, backing a Monaco win.
Why you ask? Three words: New. Manager. Bounce.
While they’re currently 18th in Ligue 1, there’s no way the players Monaco have at their disposal are this poor, and it seemed like things just fell apart under Leonardo Jardim.
However, Thierry Henry is an incredibly high-profile appointment, and he might just kick things into gear after a clear sense of stagnation under Jardim – it’s a big chance to impress the new boss.
I’ll admit this is a big, big risk, but also a calculated one, and you need to take the odd risk if you want any sort of value for a three-fold multi.
Go on, be brave and back Monaco…