Barcelona have beaten the -1.5 goal handicap just twice in their seven away group stage games.
BATE v Barcelona
BATE produced the shock of game week 2 when they beat Roma 3-2 but their task is even harder this time around as they welcome reigning champions Barcelona. BATE are no strangers to hosting Europe’s elite. They beat Bayern here 3-1 in 2011/12 but lost 5-0 to Barca in 2011/12 and 1-0 to Madrid in 2008. Barcelona are without Messi here and while Neymar led them to an emphatic 5-2 win on Saturday they’ve been generally poor without the Argentinian maestro. Barca drew their first away match of the campaign at Roma and they’ve beaten the -1.5 goal handicap just twice in their seven away group stage games since 2013/14.
Recommendation: BATE +1.5 - 1pt @ 2.06
Leverkusen v Roma
When the draw for Group E was made these two sides would have viewed their two matches against each other as pivotal in the race for second-place behind European champions Barcelona but BATE’s impressive win over Roma in game week 2, which followed Roma’s gritty 1-1 draw with Barca, has upset the applecart somewhat. Roma need something here but it looks tough ask. Despite their strong Serie A form, we’ve got Leverkusen ranked as the better team here and they’ve also the added benefits of home advantage and a closer to full-strength XI. Leverkusen have won nine of their 11 home group stage matches this decade while Roma are winless in their last five. Furthermore, German teams are undefeated in their last 14 Champion’s League group stage matches hosting Italian opposition (W10-D4-L0).
Recommendation: Leverkusen Win - 1pt @ 1.95
Dinamo Zagreb v Olympiakos
Zagreb beat Arsenal in their opener but that result was largely due to the indiscipline of front-man Olivier Giroud who got himself sent off in the first half. Even with 10-men, Arsenal dominated the second half and the Gunners were unlucky to not to find an equaliser. Olympiakos’ win at Arsenal was much more impressive as they became just the seventh team to score at least three goals at Arsenal in Europe in the Wenger era. We have Olympiakos ranked as the much stronger team here and they look underrated in the market. They’ve been the higher ranked-side three times this decade on the road in the Champions League and they’ve won twice (at Anderlecht and Montpellier). Zagreb have lost six of their last eight home Champion’s League matches.
Recommendation: Olympiakos Win - 1pt @ 2.8
Porto v Maccabi Tel Aviv
It’s difficult to argue with the market making Porto such strong favourites here. Maccabi Tel Aviv have lost both of their openers to nil shipping six goals on the way. Porto have a brilliant home record in this tournament. They are unbeaten in seven at home with five wins including their 3-1 thrashing of Bayern in the first leg of the quarter-final in April and their 2-1 win over Chelsea in their last game. Porto have faced teams outside our top-100 rankings (Tel Aviv are 160th) three times this decade and they’ve won by three clear goals twice. More generally teams ranked 6th-10th (Porto are 7th) have won their last 15 Champions League games hosting sides outside of the top-100 with nine consecutive wins by at least two goals.
Recommendation: Porto -2 - 1pt @ 1.84
Valencia v Gent
Valencia’s domestic form has finally improved after a slow start. In a tough looking group they’ll need to take at least four points from the group minnows Gent in their next two matches and they are strong favourites here. Belgian teams have lost by two clear goals in five of their last nine trips to Spanish opposition in the Champions League and that looks the most likely outcome here. Gent look destined to finish bottom of Group H in their maiden appearance in this tournament. Last season in La Liga, Valencia won all of their 10 home matches against sides that finished in the bottom-half with eight wins by two clear goals.
Recommendation: Valencia -1.5 - 1pt @ 2.25
Zenit v Lyon
Lyon sit below Group H minnows Gent, albeit on goals conceded, after two games and here they are tasked with a tough trip to Russia. Zenit have taken maximum points so far including a thrilling 3-2 victory at the Mestalla. Since 2008/09, Zenit have lost just 3/16 home Champions League group stage matches. Lyon continue to struggle in Ligue 1 and without Nabil Fekir in their attack they look toothless. They are currently sit in sixth position but they are already 10 points behind leaders PSG. Since AVB took over, Zenit have been peerless at home. They’ve won 19/25 with 15 W/Ws and are rightly favourites here and we expect them to continue their 100% start to the competition.
Recommendation: Zenit Win - 1pt @ 1.95