Barcelona v Tottenham
To start off our Champions League betting tips for Dec 11 & 12 we look at Barcelona v Tottenham. It’s the final round of matches from this season’s Champions League group stages and football fans and punters have some fascinating contests to enjoy, none more so than this. It’s an all-or-nothing set-up for Tottenham. To earn themselves a place in the next round they must beat one of the giants of European football, on their own patch no less. Barcelona will win Group B at a canter; they are already six points ahead of Spurs in second, showing stats of four wins and one draw.
Will they take their foot off the gas now the job is done? That doesn’t sound like the Barca we all know and love, especially at the Nou Camp. If this match was played at Wembley and the Spaniards had already guaranteed their progress, you’d feel more comfortable about Tottenham’s chances; however, that’s not the case and we fear the worst. The locals beat PSV 2-1 in Holland to finish as champions of the pool, Messi and Pique scoring the goals that mattered.
It’s all on the line
Tottenham must be given credit for the way they have saved their Champions League skin; previously, they looked dead and buried at the half-way point of the campaign with just one win taken from the first nine available to them. The Premier League side battled back with a hard-fought victory over PSV at Wembley last month; they doubled up when securing a surprise win at the same venue when Inter Milan came calling. That has thrown the cat amongst the pigeons.
Eriksen scored the only goal of the game to down the Italians and help his side gain revenge; he netted the winner on 80 minutes. Although it was a tight match that could’ve gone either way, Inter were seemingly happy to play for a point, there could be no real arguments over the result at the final whistle. Pochettino oozed confidence in his post-match interview, assuring the media and fans his band of brothers can go and finish the job with an away win over Barcelona.
What the bookies say
This is a fascinating group heading into the final leg and there’s a couple of ways Spurs can go through. However, the easiest is by winning in Spain to finish second. They’d rather do without a favour, but if PSV beat Inter Milan then this result will not matter. A big ask, considering Eindhoven have a record of one draw and four defeats from five, losing each of their last two.
That makes it a two-way shoot-out between Spurs and Milan; however, bookies have Tottenham written off for the away win with Unibet confident enough to offer a chunky 3/1. With Barca having nothing to play for that may just catch the eye of value hunters looking to nick a profit. One for small stakes, if you’re going to take it.
The draw has been written off by Bet365 who trade 14/5, with 3/4 on a home win the general idea. Unromantic, of course, but we’re with the favourite. Both score and Barca win is our bet at 15/8 (Bet365).
What the stats say
Barcelona and Tottenham have met three times before in recorded competitive action and the head-to-head doesn’t make for great reading with Barca winning 2-0 with one game ending as a draw. Neither result would do the away dressing room any favours on Tuesday. The aggregate score in those three games is Barcelona 6-3 Tottenham, which adds confidence to our bet.
The pair first met in the European Cup Winners Cup in 1982 when grinding out a 1-1 in England before Barca edged a 1-0 on their own patch. Tighter than many expected but there was nothing close about the most recent face-off, Barcelona storming to a 4-2 away win earlier this season, thanks to goals from Countinho, Rakitic and a Messi double. The beaten side hit back through Kane and Lamela. Fans could do without the same drama this time if their side is able to get the points.
Liverpool v Napoli
Liverpool go into game six of the format with their card marked at two wins against three defeats. Not the kind of form you would expect from a side who fought their way to the final last season. Jurgen Klopp’s chances are hanging in the balance and they start in third on six points; however, current leaders Napoli are only three in front. Win this and Liverpool will go through to the next phase, although that’s easier said than done, especially with three defeats in four.
Their problems started with a loss at the hands of Napoli early last month; they then suffered a shock defeat to Red Star Belgrade, beaten 2-0 on the road. That put them up against it and a win was needed in Paris; however, that never came. PSG flexed their muscles to grab a 2-1 cheer in the most recent match. Bernat and Neymar were on point to deny their visitors who kept things competitive through a penalty from Milner on the stroke of half-time. Despite having 45 minutes to get even, it proved to be beyond the Premier League club.
Napoli could win the group
An example of just how interesting this group is can be seen by the fact Napoli are able to finish as group winners; however, they could also end the campaign behind both PSG and Liverpool. They have handled themselves well to date with their form reading 2-3-0, winning two and drawing two of their last four. A share with PSG in Paris was followed by another level finish in the reverse leg, before the Italians improved to beat Red Star Belgrade at home.
It was a rather straightforward win and a result just about everyone saw coming; in fact, all bookies priced it as odds-on favourite. Hamsik got the ball rolling with the opening goal inside 11 minutes and that advantage was added to by Mertens who bagged a double on 33 and 52. Nabouhane knocked in a reply on 57 to keep the score respectable. Ultimately, it was a match Napoli never looked like losing and ended as fully deserving champions of the three points.
Take a home win
Liverpool’s form has been woeful in this competition of late. Perhaps, after last season’s heroics, they see a title challenge in the Premier League as their preferred route to success. We couldn’t blame them for that as they have the squad to challenge Manchester City’s dominance and the confidence from a strong start to push them all the way. Those in attendance will demand a big effort at Anfield against Napoli however and we think they’ll get it.
Bookies agree and despite the visitors bringing an unbeaten record at this level you will find Liverpool marked as favourites for the victory with 8/15 available at Bet365. That’s tighter than we expected to see and backers would be best advised to include it in their accumulators if having a go.
The same firm go top price on the draw and that’s a bet we wouldn’t rush to put anyone off, given Napoli’s recent form. 15/4 will ensure it sees a fair share of attention. The Napoli win can’t be written off too easily either, top offer 5/1 at Unibet. We wanted a better price so will have both score, Liverpool win at 17/10 with Coral.
These sides have met three times before and we find an even split in the head-to-head values. The results see Liverpool winning one, a draw and Napoli returning the favour. The pair first clashed back in 2010 in the Europa League in Italy when scrapping to an uninspiring goalless finish. Liverpool followed that with their positive at Anfield in the second match and that was their last meeting until Napoli snatched a 1-0 in October of this campaign.
Interestingly, at least one team has failed to find the net in two of the three clashes, that 0-0 and an Insigne 90th minute winner last time. That doesn’t do an awful lot to back our bet, but the spare 3-1 Liverpool win was on Merseyside soil and we’re confident of a repeat, given what’s at stake. Steven Gerrard hammered home a stunning hat-trick that night to seal the victory, more than enough to deny a fight ignited by Ezequiel Lavezzi, who actually opened the scoring.
This will be a tense affair; however, when one team scores it will blow a hole in the contest, opening things up. Viewers of the live coverage on BT Sport, as well as our followers, will hope it leads to a free-scoring game with both clubs putting it on the line for a win and place in the next round. There’s no doubt Napoli have been the more impressive side in the group stages but; however, given Liverpool’s home advantage, support and big game experience, it would take a brave punter to oppose them with cash. Get your money down on our bet, sit back and enjoy Champions League football at its finest.