The 2019/20 football season has really got up and running now.
We are into the midst of our domestic league campaigns and we have found ourselves at matchday two of the UEFA Champions League. There are some tantalising ties to look forward to this week, in particular Bayern Munich’s trip to Tottenham Hotspur.
Joel Sanderson-Murray takes us through what to look out for during Tuesday night’s fixtures….
We never seem to be far away from a crisis with Real Madrid, and there appeared to be a storm brewing after the first set of games in this group.
An embarrassing 3-0 defeat to Paris Saint Germain 12 days ago was the result of a shambolic performance by Real’s standards, with all the questions focused on the future of Zinedine Zidane following the game.
But it has actually gone quite swimmingly for Zidane and Real since the disaster in Paris.
A hard-fought 1-0 victory away at Sevilla was followed by a win against Osasuna before avoiding defeat in the Madrid derby away at Atletico has seen Los Blancos catapult to the top of a wide open La Liga.
Real have won Europe’s elite competition on thirteen occasions, including on three consecutive occasions between 2016 and 2018. Has the time for dominance surpassed this great side?
Toni Kroos looked miles away from PSG’s energetic and dynamic midfield while their forward line, once the most feared in the world, doesn’t seem to have that same edge anymore.
To say big things are to be expected of former Chelsea man Eden Hazard is an understatement, and he is yet to get firing, although a lot of that can be attributed to a lack of match sharpness.
A home game against Club Brugge of Belgium in the Champions League might just be the fixture for Hazard to get ‘arrive’ at the Bernabeu though.
A 2-1 win over Southampton in the Premier League on Saturday relieved some of the pressure on Mauricio Pochettino after their shock exit in the Carabao Cup at the hands of Colchester United.
Conceding a 2-0 lead to end up drawing in Greece during matchday one has left Spurs with some work to do to get out of the group, and up next is visit of German giants Bayern Munich.
Bayern have started the Bundesliga season like they always do, unbeaten in six games and sat top of the league after the 3-2 win over Paderborn at the weekend.
Form appears to suggest Spurs are in for a tough night but their record against the supposed ‘European heavyweights’ in the Champions League should give Tottenham fans reason for optimism.
Pochettino’s men have taken the scalps of Real Madrid in 2017 (3-1), Borussia Dortmund (3-0) and Manchester City (1-0) last season at home, while also achieving a fantastic 1-1 draw at Barcelona last season.
Bayern are considered favourites going into this but with Spurs priced at 3.20* to win, that may be too appealing to turn down.
City’s game against Dinamo Zagreb should be no more than a mere procession, and one of our Fan Boosts has Kevin De Bruyne to score from outside the area at 7.50* which looks tasty.
The other game in the group sees Atalanta, third placed in Serie A, host Shakhtar Donetsk, top of the Ukrainian Premier League.
This could be of interest to the ‘footballing hipsters’ out there, and with the game being played at the San Siro, there’s an appealing aspect about this early fixture.
Shakhtar have only ever won away against an Italian side once in European competition, losing eight and drawing two of their 11 clashes. In those games they have conceded 30 goals and after Atalanta succumbed to a 4-0 defeat to Zagreb in the first group game, it’s fair to expect goals in this encounter.
Over 3.5 goals is at 2.55* but a draw with goals at 4.30* may bring you better value.
It’s no secret to anybody that Juventus are going all out to the win the Champions League this season.
The signings of Matthijs de Ligt, Adrien Rabiot and Aaron Ramsey showed their ambition, and that’s without even mentioning getting a certain Cristiano Ronaldo on board last season.
Maurizio Sarri’s men played their part in a cracking game on matchday one, giving away a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at Atletico, only to nearly win it in the dying seconds through Ronaldo.
They will be expected to pick up their first three points of the group stage at home to German side Bayer Leverkusen.
Leverkusen, who sit sixth in the Bundesliga, lost their opening game 2-1 at home to Lokomotiv Moscow and could find themselves with too much of a mountain to overcome after the second game.
Despite the promising talents of Leon Bailey, Kai Havertz and Paulinho, it doesn’t look promising for the Germans heading to the Allianz Stadium.
Ronaldo to make a statement early on in the groups with a hat-trick is 9.75*.
All photos: PA Images.
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