The UEFA Champions League group phase continues this week, so take a look at our tips and predictions for the Group B and C matches. With plenty of picks and markets to choose from, don’t waste your time and join the action here at Get More Sports.
Qarabag (Aze) vs. Roma (Ita)
Three-Way: 1: Qarabag +716; X: +409 Draw; 2: Roma -182
Spread +1: Qarabag +129; Roma -130
Total +2.5: Over -125; Under +117
Qarabag deservedly qualified for the Champions League after three qualification rounds, but their first ever match in the UCL group stage will be remembered as a disaster following a heavy 6:0 loss at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea. The Horsemen didn’t deserve to suffer such a big defeat, but they quickly bounced back in the domestic league with a pair of assuring wins over Kapaz (2:0) and Sumqayit (4:1). The matchup with Roma is going to be a huge test for the Azerbaijan champions, and although nobody expects them to reach the knockout phase, Qarabag can be a tricky opposition when playing at Tofig Bahramov Stadium.
Qarabag played 12 games in 2017/18 and recorded nine victories, a draw, and two losses, both in the Uefa Champions League and both away from home (the first one was at Copenhagen in qualifications). They scored 22 and allowed 12 goals, but half of those were at Stamford Bridge. What’s quite encouraging for Qarabag fans is that they have an excellent home record as they won six and drew just one match, with the goal difference 15:2. Not even Copenhagen managed to score at Qarabag’s turf, so Roma will certainly not have an easy job in this encounter.
Dino Ndlovu is Qarabag’s leading scorer at the moment with five goals to his name, but the South Africa international didn’t score a goal for a month now and will be highly motivated to find the net against the Italian giants. The left-wing Mahir Madatov with four and the Spanish midfielder Michel with three goals are just behind Ndlovu, while both of them alongside the Brazilian Richard recorded two assists each so far. These players are the leaders of this team, but the fans will be delighted to see the attacking midfielder Dani Quintana back into contention after missing the start of the season with an injury. The 30-year-old entered the second half against Kapaz and immediately influenced the game with a goal and assist in only 29 minutes on the pitch. Ansi Agolli is still sidelined with a groin injury, and the Albanian left-back is out of this duel.
The Italian vice-champions escaped an opening home defeat against Atletico Madrid thanks to Alisson’s fantastic saves, and now they’re looking for three points in Azerbaijan. Roma has been in an excellent form since that 0:0 stalemate, winning all three games in the Serie A and scoring ten goals in the process. It’s not going to be easy to qualify for the knockout stage of the Champions League with such teams as Chelsea and Atletico also in the group C, so this visit to Qarabag is crucial for the Giallorossi, and they can’t allow slipping there.
Roma played in just six matches this season thus far, recording four wins, a draw, and defeat, with 12 goals scored and four conceded. The only loss came against Inter at home when Mauro Icardi and company surprised Roma in the second half with three quick goals, even though Roma led thanks to Edin Dzeko’s early goal. La Lupa scores two goals per match on average, but that not going to be easy to do at Qarabag as the Azerbaijanis allowed only the pair of goals in seven home games. Still, Roma’s recent form is quite encouraging as they beat Verona (3-0), Benevento (4-0), and Udinese (3-1), with Edin Dzeko scoring half of these ten goals.
Dzeko is the team’s top scorer with six goals, which means he finds the net once per game, so Qarabag must keep a close eye on the Bosnian forward as he will most probably create problems for their defense. Stephan El Shaarawy has two goals to his name at the moment, while this summer’s arrival Aleksandar Kolarov leads the team with three assists. The Nigerian right-back Abdullahi Nura is out with a muscle injury, the left-back Emerson is sidelined with cruciate ligament rupture, while the forward Patrik Schick is unavailable due to a hamstring injury.
Qarabag (Aze) vs. Roma (Ita) – Match Prediction
Qarabag is a tough team to beat at home, but considering Roma’s quality and recent form, they have to be considered as favorites here, so I am backing the Italians to come away victorious out of this encounter.
MY PICK: Roma to win AH +1 (-130)
Anderlecht (Bel) vs. Celtic (Sco)
Three-Way: 1: Anderlecht +120; X: +280 Draw; 2: Celtic +270
Spread -0.5: Anderlecht +116; Celtic -118
Total +2.5: Over -119; Under +120
The Belgian champions are not experiencing such a good start of the season as they are struggling in the Jupiler League at the moment, where their arch-rivals Club Brugge already created a nine-point gap between them. A 3:0 defeat to Bayern Munich in the opening game of the Champions League was pretty much expected, and it would be a miracle to see Anderlecht in the knockout phase, so a battle with Celtic for the No. 3 spot in the group is their primary goal in this year’s competition.
The Purple & White played 11 matches in 2017/18, recording five wins, three draws, and three losses while scoring 14 and conceding 14 goals, which must be concerning for their fans. Anderlecht is usually much better than this, and they managed to recover in a certain way following a loss at Bayern with two wins in a row against Westerlo in the cup and Beveren in the league. However, with the form this unstable, it is hard to predict how Anderlecht will play in the next match, so my advice is to avoid them until they stabilize enough. At the moment, there are too many oscillations in their form so everything could happen in this clash with the Scottish champions.
The Everton forward Henry Onyekuru, who is currently on loan at Anderlecht is the team’s leading scorer with four goals to his name, while Sofiane Hanni and Lukasz Teodorczyk are following him with two goals each. Anderlecht surely has some outstanding talents in the squad such as the pair of Romanians, Nicolae Stanciu, and Alexandru Chipciu, who should run the midfield alongside Leander Dendoncker. Sven Kums is suspended for this match as he serves a suspension following his red card against Bayern, while the center-back Kara (muscle) and right-back Andy Najar (hamstring) are sidelined with injuries.
Celtic successfully went through three Champions League qualification rounds before getting into the group stage of the competition, but their opening match was rather forgettable after a 0:5 home defeat to PSG. Domination in the Scottish league once again proved to be irrelevant when it comes to European games, and the French vice-champions demonstrated real force at Celtic Park. Honestly, the loss shouldn’t be that high, but Brendan Rodgers must know that playing in the Uefa Champions League is entirely different from playing in the Scotland Premiership, where the quality of football is much lower.
However, following that disaster in the Champions League, Celtic responded with three straight victories against Ross County, Dundee, and most recently, Rangers. The Bhoys scored ten and conceded none in the process, while the win in the Old Firm Derby wasn’t questionable for one single moment as they dominated from the referee’s first whistle. Celtic played 16 games so far in 2017/18, recording 12 wins, two draws, and two defeats, with a goal difference 42:12. Besides from a heavy 5-0 loss to PSG, Celtic allowed only seven goals in 15 matches, but four of them also came in the Champions League, or should I say qualifications, when Astana beat them, 4-3.
The English left winger Scott Sinclair is currently Celtic’s top scorer with nine goals, but he is also a leading assist-maker with six to his name. James Forrest scored seven; Leigh Griffiths has five, while Callum McGregor scored four goals thus far. Griffiths added six assists to his name as well, while the Australian midfielder Tom Rogic contributed with three goals and five assists, so Anderlecht must be aware of his influence. The Danish center-back Erik Sviatchenko is close to returning from a knee injury but will be out for this clash, while Kouassi Eboue is still sidelined with a malleolar injury, and is expected to be back in the mid-October.
Anderlecht (Bel) vs. Celtic (Sco) – Match Prediction
Anderlecht is pretty unstable, and I don’t think they will keep their net intact on this one, but I also believe they will score at least one, so I opted for both teams to score. Celtic proved that their defense is fragile when it comes to European matches, so we should witness plenty of goals in this Group B encounter.
MY PICK: Both teams to score YES (-145)
Additional Pick: Over 2.5 goals (-119)
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