I’m backing Ajax to beat AEK Athens away from home to kick-off our multi.
The Greek side have lost three in-a-row in all competitions (and seven of their last twelve), while Ajax have won eight of their last nine.
A point would guarantee Ajax’s progression to the Champions League knockouts, however they are still in touching distance of Bayern Munich in the top spot, and considering they still have to play the German giants at home – and the fact that they are 5th in the Bundesliga – means Erik ten Hag’s men will definitely go for the win in Greece.
Ajax have drawn their two other Champions League away matches this season – against Bayern and Benfica – though I’m expecting them to register an away win against pointless AEK Athens.
Next, I have CSKA Moscow to beat Viktoria Plzen at home.
Plzen are fresh from a 5-0 home gubbing against Real Madrid, and have just one point from their four group matches so far; incidentally, the one match they drew was at home against Tuesday’s opponents.
CSKA followed-up their incredible home victory against Real Madrid with back-to-back defeats against Roma (though the 2-1 loss in Moscow wasn’t helped by Hördur Magnússon being sent off at 1-1).
The Russian side need a win to keep pace with Real and Roma at the top, and I believe they’ll do enough to claim all three points.
I’m backing a Hoffenheim win over Shakhtar Donetsk.
Julian Nagelsmann’s side haven’t won in the Champions League yet, but they come into this following a couple of thrilling draws against a very strong Lyon side.
They were also excellent against Shakhtar in the group opener, and were unlucky to only draw 2-2, while a late David Silva goal denied them a brilliant draw against Manchester City.
From what Hoffenheim have shown me this season, it’s about time they won their first Champions League match, and I believe they’ll do it against Shakhtar – fresh from a couple of thrashings at the hands of City.
The home side are bang in-form – winning four of their last five Bundesliga matches – and a victory will keep this group alive nicely.
Despite beating an off-colour City at the Etihad – still their only defeat this season – I simply cannot see past an away win.
Pep Guardiola’s side know that victory will seal top spot in Group F, allowing them to potentially rest players for their final match against Hoffenheim; the fact that they head into this game with 19 goals in their last four games another ominous sign for the hosts.
The last time Lyon played a genuinely top class side (PSG), they were hammered 5-0, and though I see them digging in for large portions of the game and even worrying City at times, this is only ending one way.
Will this be another snoozefest? Possibly – but surely, against Young Boys, Jose Mourinho’s side can break the shackles and give their home fans something to cheer about. The Old Trafford faithful are yet to see their side score at home in the Champions League – though they have won both of their away matches – but I’m expecting that to change here.
I absolutely hate backing United these days, primarily due to their pure inconsistency, however I can’t help fancying them to put in a decent performance – their 3-0 win in Bern is probably conducive to this thinking.
Every time Manchester United dip and Mourinho’s luck looks to have run out, the players seem to put in a great performance: the win against Newcastle being a prime example.
I’m going to hope that is the case and therefore I’m plumping for a United -1 win.