The Champions League returns and we will be treated to some mouthwatering encounters on Matchday 1 with Barcelona hosting Juventus and Dortmund travelling to Wembley to take on Tottenham. The Wolf breaks down each and very match!
UCL Matchday 1 Feature Previews
Barcelona v Juventus – (Wed 4:45am)
It may be early days but The Wolf wants to send out a stern warning to all punters – DONT fall into the Barca trap. They may sit top of the league with three straight wins and a Messi hat-trick has stolen all the headlines but The Wolf says they have failed to address their squad issues in the off-season and are in fact a worse side than 6 months ago. For starters Dembele is no Neymar – in fact, his name should not be mentioned as the same sentence as the Brazilian. Neymanr’s performances for the Catalan club were extremely under-rated. Leaving his 105 goals to the side it was his ability to distribute which will be missed. He had 59 assists in his tenure with Barca and led La Liga with 21 assists last season. He also set up 22 goals more Messi (more than any other team-mate while he was there) and earned his side an astonishing 15 penalties. Their biggest problem over the last 12-18 months has been in midfield and they have not addressed it. Paulinho spent the last 3 seasons in China with The Wolf having serious questions about the trio of Iniesta, Busquets and Rakitic. Iniesta is well past his best while the other two are vanilla to say the least. Juve on the other hand have gone from strength to strength. They added Matuidi, Benatia, Howedes, Douglas Costa and Bernardeschi while being able to retain the key figures of Higuain and Dybala. People are quick to forget that Juventus were clinical in the quarter finals against Barcelona last year. They had complete control of the centre of the park and shut down the supply to the front three. They held Barcelona scoreless over two legs and have now lost just 1 of their last 6 to the La Liga giants. Allegro has the game plan to shut down Messi and co making Juventus in the double chance market a special. Juve will again prove very difficult to break down.
Best: Double Chance Draw or Juventus ($2.05)
Value: Under 2.5 and Draw ($5.00)
Celtic v PSG – (Wed 4:45am)
The Wolf has already said more than enough about Neymar but PSG’s spending spree didn’t spot there. The won the battle for the signature of Mbappe and added the experienced Dani Alves to basically make it a all Brazilian backline. With Verratti, Di Maria, Pastore and Draxler across the middle they now have arguably the most potent attack in all of Europe. They have been crushing teams in Ligue 1 with 5 straight wins to open the season – booting 19 goals and conceding just 3. They have been spreading the love which is a great sign of team morale and The Wolf belives they will be reserving their best performances for the Champions League. Unlike the Englsih, Spanish, German and Italian sides their league games are virtually a walk in the park. They also have no competition for the title which puts them in a position to shift all of their focus on the UCL when it comes around. Celtic are about to face a juggernaut says The Wolf. PSG have scored multiple goals in 5 of their last 7 away UCL matches while Celtic managed just a single point from their three home games in last year’s group stage. The match will be a great chance for Aussie Tom Rogic to showcase his talents but unfortunately for him his side will be on the receiving end of a hammering!
Best: HT/FT – PSG/PSG ($1.60)
Value: PSG Over 3.5 goals ($3.25)
Man Utd v Basel – (Wed 4:45am)
Mourinho’s men dropped their first points of the season away to Stoke and now face a side with plenty of experience in the UCL despite not being a household name. Basel have been a regular in the UCL over the last decade and have registered wins over multiple English sides in the past including Chelsea, Liverpool and Man Utd. Basel are undefeated in their last 3 against the Red Devils with a win and two draws including an emphatic 3-3 draw when they last met at Old Trafford. Both teams have found the back of the net in all four encounters with a total in 15 goals across those meetings. Their matches have been nothing short of entertaining and The Wolf is confident that this one will not disappoint. He says to keep an eye out for his namesake van Wolfswinkel. The Dutchman has been nothing short of spectacular since moving to Basel with 6 goals in his last 5 league games. He has really fed off the energy of what is a very young side. Die and Calla are the only outfield played above 30 making Basel one of the youngest squads in the competition. Man Utd are undefeated in their last 9 UCL matches at home with 7 wins and 2 draws but The Wolf cannot ignore the value on offer for Basel to score. Basel will not sit on their hands and that makes for an entrawling encounter with a lot of goals!
Best: Both Teams To Score – YES ($2.35)
Value: Basel Over 1.5 goals ($8.50)
Liverpool v Sevilla – (Thur 4:45am)
It was a weekend to forget for the Reds who were thumped 5-0 by rivals Man City. Mane was incorrectly sent from the field with Klopp’s men down by a goal but nevertheless such a heavy defeat can have an adverse affect on team morale. Sevilla are yet to taste defeat this season and have been one of the most successful sides in European competition in recent years. The famously beat Liverpool two years ago to win the Europa League and if there is one team that knows how to play away from home it is Sevilla. They have lost just 2 of their last 11 UCL matches and have conceded a total of only 3 goals in their last 5 away UCL games. Liverpool may be the big name on paper but this is just their second appearance in the Champions League group stage in the last 8 seasons. The additions of Nolito and Jesus Navas provide Sevilla will some EPL experience while The Wolf says to keep an eye on Ever Banega. Liverpool’s Alberto Moreno is likely to get a run against his former club while Coutinho looks set to make his long awaited return. The Wolf says the Reds 5-0 loss further highlights that they are are side who’s best form of defence is attack. As was the case last season we will not see many clean sheets from the Reds whether they play at Anfield or across Europe. Add the fact that Sevilla have scored in all 5 of their competitive matches this season and you have a recipe for disaster.
Best: Over 2.5 goals ($1.57)
Value: Correct Score Draw 2-2 ($15.00)
Real Madrid v APOEL – (Thur 4:45am)
This could be the first off-season in the history of Real Madrid that the club has in fact turned a profit in the transfer window. The exit of Morata and James Rodriguez has freed up more game time for Isco, Asensio and Kovacic while the trio of Casemito, Kroos and Modric remain in the engine room. Let’s not forget that Bale returns after missing a fair chunk of last season and the goals will always flow as long as Ronaldo and Benzema are on the park. APOEL felt the full force of Madrid when they made the quarter finals ion 2012. They lost 8-3 on aggregate and as good as they can be at home, they really struggle when away to quality opposition. One thing is for certain – they will put everything into it defensively. We have seen them lose by just a single goal away to Barcelona and PSG in recent seasons but The Wolf says repeating that would be some effort. Real are undefeated in their last 15 UCL matches at the Bernebeau and have found the back of the net on 17 occasions in their last 6 games at the venue. We could see Tommy Oar come off the bench at some point for the visitors but The Wolf says that is unlikely as they will be in damage control after half an hour. In a group where goal difference could be vital the defending champions will look to make a statement at home in an attempt to recover from back to back draws in La Liga.
Best: Teams To Score – Real Madrid Only ($1.44)
Value: Real Madrid Goal 1st To 15th Minute – YES ($2.75)
Tottenham v Dortmund – (Thur 4:45am)
Spurs will be trying to figure out what they have done to the football Gods. Lat year they were drawn in a group with Monaco, Bayer Leverkusen and CSKA Moscow. This year they have been dealt an even crueler draw with the balls placing them in the same group as Real Madrid, Borussia Drotmund and APOEL. It may be early in the season but it is already clear that Wembley will be no White Hart Lane for them and with just 2 wins in their last 9 UCL matches there is cause for concern. The Wolf does not expect them to progress from this group. They do not play well away from home in the UCL (2 wins, 4 losses, 3 draws) and take on a Dortmund side that can beat anyone on their day. They topped a group that includes Real Madrid last season and have qualified for the knockout stages in each of the last four seasons. Dortmund have way more experience than Spurs both at this level and against top level European opponents. The German side went undefeated in the group stage last season and are one of the most devastating sides on the counter attack. Shutting down Aubameyang and Gotze will be critical if Spurs are to get a result. The Over is 10-2 in the last 12 Dortmund matches in this competition and The Wolf says Spurs will not be holding them out. This could end up being one of those memorable Champions League clashes that will look back at after a decade and say… WOW!
Best: Over 2.5 goals ($1.61)
Value: Over 3.5 goals ($2.75)