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Another coupon where research falls flat. The Champions League early rounds sees teams from across Europe meet each other. We simply cannot gauge these teams' abilities as against each other. It's down to Champions League history, the market and the in-play stats.
19:45 - Middlesbrough v Sheff Utd - 2.3 Middlesbrough
- The home team won head to heads last year.
- Millwall were looking like continuing their solid home run in 2018 with a 2-0 lead v Boro. 87th and 90th minute goals for Boro saw them claim a point. Whether this was down to Millwall switching off of Boro not giving up, well I'll leave that up to you.
- Boro were 5th last year. All defeats bar 1 at home for Boro came v the top 6. Sheff Utd were 10th last season.
- Sheff Utd away last season could not beat a top 10 side.
- Sheffield Utd took the lead at home to Swansea. 71st and 85th minute Swans goals took those 3 points to Wales.
- Based on last season, we'd favour Boro not to lose.
- Based on this season, we'd note a run of 4 goals between these 2 post 70th minute. If 0-0 70th minute, it may be worth taking on.
19:45 - Nottm Forest v West Brom - 2.6 Nottm Forest
- Toughest league in Europe, 2.6 the favourite = likely to be hard to unravel.
- Both of these sides conceded first, and got the next goal. That is where it ended for Forest. West Brom carelessly conceded an 89th minute loser. Welcome to the highly competitive Championship!!
- 17th last season, Forest were poor generally. Only 6 defeats though at home v 5th to 23rd.
- This is a midlands derby of sorts.
- West Brom were careless in their opener and need to get 3 points on the board. Robson-Kanu. Rondon, Rodriguez, Barry, Chadli, Livermore - that's a solid list at this level - hence my surprise with West Brom's opener.
UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE (CL)
15:00 - FC Astana v Dinamo Zagreb - 2.24 FC Astana
- Kazak v Croatia.
- Astana are on a 5 match unbeaten run in the CL, 4 wins and a draw. The draw was a 0-0 having already beaten FC Midtjylland 2-1 at home.
- This will be more of a test for Dinamo Zagreb - 5-0 home win v Hapoel Beer Sheva and 2-2 2nd leg.
- How do we evaluate teams from 2 different countries? In-play stats but a bias for me towards Astana who have momentum. Dinamo Zagreb were last in the CL in 2016.
18:00 - Qarabag Fk v BATE Borisov - 2.12 Qarabag
- Azerbaijan v Belarus.
- 4 consecutive CL clean sheets for Qarabag. They teams they played ....how to evaluate against BATE Borisov.
- In 2017, note that Qarabag played the likes of Roma, Chelsea, Atl Madrid and Copenhagen so from their perspective, they'll expect to go deeper into the CL based on last year.
- 2 2-1 wins and a 0-0 for BATE last 3 CL matches.
- An interesting match. If last year's CL adventure is anything to go by, we'd expect Qarabag to go deeper?
18:15 - Malmo FF v MOL Vidi - 1.42 Malmo
- 3 wins and a 1-1 for Malmo so far in the CL in 2018. They only lasted one round last year.
- Vidi are a complete unknown from Hungary. They have scored 2 goals only once in 8, and that was v a Luxembourger team.
- By the same token, Vidi did not concede a 2nd goal in those 8 CL matches.
- The market expects the Swedes to oblige. Simply put, Vidi are the unknown equation here.
19:00 - Standard v Ajax - 2.08 Ajax
- Belgium v Holland. A knee-jerk reaction? The Dutch Eredivisie is a little more robust than the Belgian Juliper League.
- Standard have a very poor CL record. They were last in the CL in 2014, losing to Zenit. Way back, they met Dutch side AZ, drawing 1-1.
- Very little recent form in the CL for Standard.
- Ajax have trouble going deep into the CL. Down I suppose to dutch sides being 'selling' sides rather than buying to strengthen.
- Comprehensive wins v Sturm Graz for Ajax will have them confident. Back in 2017, 2 score draws v Nice. Ajax have scored and conceded in 7 of their last 8 CL matches.
- A slight favour for me for Ajax, although both Belgian and Dutch teams tend to get found out outside of their home countries because there is no strength-in-depth in their leagues.
19:30 - Crvena Zvezda v Spartak Trnava - 1.31 Crvena
- Serbia v Slovakia.
- 20 wins and 2 0-0's in the last 2 matches in all competitive for Crvena (better known as Red Star).
- 7 consecutive clean sheets. Can they transfer that into the CL?
- So far, so good, with 4 clean sheet matches for Red Star. 3 consecutive wins. Again, the eternal question....how to gauge the teams they beat as against today's opponents?
- Only Milan has beaten Red Star at home historically in the CL, back in 2006.
- First time in the CL for Spartak. An eye-catching 2 legged win over Legia Warsaw. No other CL form for us to work from.
- The market is taken by Crvena here. Follow the in-play stats with them favoured here.
19:45 - Benfica v Fenerbahce - 1.63 Benfica
- Benfica will feel that they can do deeper in the CL, based on last year where they met the likes of Dortmund, CSKA Moscow, Basel, Man Utd, albeit losing in all of those encounters.
- Early rounds of the CL should see Benfica through?
- Back in 2015, Benfica beat Turk side Galatasary 2-1. Long time ago really but a feeling that they can cope with Turkish teams?
- For me the Turkish league is where players past their prime go to top up the retirement fund. For example, at Fenerbahce, Skrtel, Valbuena, Topal, Ayew, Soldado can no longer get first team football at the elite clubs. Philippe Cocu new manager for Fenerbahce too.
- Fenerbahce were last in the CL in 2016, failing to beat Shakhtar Donetsk and winning and losing v Monaco.
- New manager for Fenerbahce introduces an element of unreadability. Benfica though will expect to go deeper in the CL, albeit we know they have trouble even scoring against the elite sides. Fener are a side with a number of retirees in its ranks. Unlikely to land a CL blow long term.
19:45 - Slavia Prague v Dynamo Kiev - 2.68 Slavia Prague
- 2.68 the favourite relays a lack of confidence in the market picking a favourite.
- Slavia Prague have a poor historical record in the CL, albeit from 2008, 2009, and 2017. Slavia had problem scoring a 2nd goal.
- Dinamo Kiev in 2016 met the likes of Napoli, Besiktas, and Benfica.
- In 2017, Dinamo Kiev beat Young Boys 3-1 at home but were mugged 2-0 in the away leg, hence not going through on away goals.
- Dinamo Kiev certainly have a goal threat if 2017 is anything to go by. If Slavia cannot score that 2nd goal, lay them if they score first.
- A match for the in-play stats though here.
UEFA EUROPA LEAGUE (EL)
17:00 - FC Pyunik v Maccabi Tel Aviv - 1.94 Maccabi
- Armenia v Israel.
- No draw in recent EL matches for FC Pyunik.
- 3 wins in 4 matches.
- Maccabi are unbeaten in 5 in the EL, but that eternal question arises. How do we gauge their opponents against some random team from Armenia? Welcome to the Europa League!
- Note the market favours Maccabi Tel Aviv. Use in-play stats to justify the odds.
19:00 - Falkenbergs v Orgryte - 2.24 Falkenbergs
- 2 consecutive 1-1 draws in head to heads.
- Only 2 defeats.
- Failed to score in only 2 matches.
- Scored 2+ goals in 4 of their last 5 matches.
- Scored in their last 8 matches home and away.
- Losses this season came home v 1st and 7th.
- Scored first in 5/7 at home.
- No win in 7 matches after an excellent start to the season.
- 2 consecutive 0-0's - a possible sequence to end today.
- Losses away v 1st and 5th.0-0 v 3rd home and away.
- Scored 2+ goals away v 7th and lower.
- On form, we'd expect Falkenbergs not to lose today. No win in 7 now for Orgryte plays only 2 defeats for Falkenbergs.
- I would have to lay any late 0-0. It is so hard for teams to continue 0-0 sequences. And note Falkenbergs scored 2+ goals in 4 of their last 5 matches.