Today we look at four sides who will all be hoping to progress but would do well to go far in the competition. Firstly, French champions Monaco, who recently drew to RB Leipzig in their last fixture, play Porto, who will be thoroughly disappointed with their 3:1 loss to Besiktas in their opening Champions League match of the season. Then, two sides who started their Champions League losses will play each other, Italian giants Napoli and Dutch champions Feyenoord.
Monaco (Fra) vs. FC Porto (Por)
Three-Way: 1: Monaco +123; X: +270 Draw; 2: FC Porto +280
Spread -0.5: Monaco +117; FC Porto -122
Total +2.5: Over -118; Under +127
The French champions last Champions League game may as well have been a goalless draw with little action at either end. The only real piece of action came in the 32nd and 34th-minute goals when Leipzig and Monaco scored respectively. Apart from their goal, Monaco didn’t have a single shot on target and only managed one shot overall, but luckily summer signing Youri Tielemans was on hand to equalize from close range in their only clear-cut chance of the game.
For a side that reached the semi-final in the last Champions League game, and has been often free-scoring in Ligue 1, it was a surprise to see such a lack of creativity and penetration from a side that contains the likes of Thomas Lemar, Radamel Falcao, and Joao Moutinho.However, you must consider their previous fixture when they lost 4:0 to Nice and the performance was similar going forward, without that cutting-edge. Thankfully for Monaco, their form has picked up recently with 3:0 and 4:0 wins over Strasbourg and Lille. The recent results were in no small part due to Falcao’s incredible league form, scoring eleven goals in seven games so far.
Manager Leonardo Jardim will be without Loic Badiashile (shoulder), left-back Julien Serrano (ankle) through injury while winger Gabriel Boschilia who does not yet match fit.
Porto suffered from a poor 3:1 defeat to Besiktas to put their qualification credentials under serious threat. Despite a total of 25 shots, Porto didn’t actually score a single goal, with their goal being handed to them with a 21st-minute own-goal equalizer. Besiktas’ advantage was restored in the 28th minute and doubled in the 86th to doom Porto to a down heartening loss.
Considering that Besiktas is arguably the weakest team in the group, the result will be particularly damning, especially when you also take into account that it was a home game. Perhaps the best the Portuguese side can hope for now is a third place finish and qualification to the lesser competition that is the Europa League, or perhaps it’s a bit too soon to condemn them to a knockout in these early rounds.
Despite a poor first European game, and what might make their loss more frustrating, their league form has been faultless, winning all seven of their first seven league games. They’ll have to carry their league form into their next European fixture and get a result if they wish to progress.
Manager Sergio Conceiçao will be without keeper Fabiano after he suffered from a cruciate ligament rupture last season, while midfielder André André will also be out with a sprained ankle.
Monaco (Fra) vs. FC Porto (Por)– Match Prediction:
In a repeat of the 2004 Champions League final, both teams will be looking to carry their recent league forms through to their European performances. In that famous final, Porto won 3:0, but with Monaco having the stronger side and the home advantage I would go for the French side to win and get revenge thirteen years on from the final.
MY PICK: Monaco to WIN (+123)
Napoli (Ita) vs. Feyenoord (Ned)
Three-Way: 1: Napoli -455; X: +885 Draw; 2: Feyenoord +2500
Spread -2.5: Napoli +110; Feyenoord -108
Total +3.5: Over -116; Under +114
Napoli suffered from a disappointing 2:1 loss to Shakhtar Donetsk in their last Champions League fixture, despite having their fairest share of possession and opportunities. Going 2:0 down was too much for this Italian side who could only manage to pull one back to make it 2:1 with a penalty but were unable to break down a resilient Shakhtar Donetsk defense in open play. With the Ukranian side being their main rivals for the 2nd place position in their group, it is now a must that they beat them in their return home fixture or face early elimination.
The two-time Italian champions have been in excellent league form, having won each of their six games in Serie A and are in first place as it stands, with forward Dries Mertens impressing, in particular, having already scored six goals. That being said, league points don’t contribute to standings in the Champions League football and they will have to translate their form to this game and win if they wish to stand any chance of progression.
Manager Maurizio Sarri will be without forward Arkadiusz Milik after it was recently announced that he suffered from a cruciate ligament rupture. Meanwhile, defender Vlad Chiriches will also be out through injury.
With such excitement surrounding Feyenoord’s first Champions League fixture in fifteen years and dreams of winning the competition, manager, players and fans alike may have been pulled back to earth following a convincing 4:0 defeat to Manchester City. Feyenoord simply struggled to deal with their English opponents’ quality and only managed one shot on target over the duration of the match.
The Dutch champions’ form has suffered since their loss to Manchester City, having lost two of their last three games, and two away games lost. It was always going to be difficult to replicate last season’s successes, but manager Giovanni Van Bronckhorst will be hoping that his side can get a result on Tuesday to re-instill confidence into his side and improve on their recent Champions League record, having won just two of their last sixteen fixtures.
Giovanni van Bronckhorst will be without keeper Kenneth Vermeer (hand), forward Nicolai Jorgensen (knee) and defender Eric Botteghin (knee) through injury.
Napoli (Ita) vs. Feyenoord (Ned)– Match Prediction:
Everything about this game screams for a convincing Napoli win. Firstly, they obviously have the home advantage, then they have some top talent, especially in the midfield, with players like Marek Hamsik and Dries Mertens going forward, and on top of that their league form has literally been second to none.
It’s sad to say for a side that had such a magical time last season, but the more you look at it the more likely it seems that Feyenoord may finish their campaign with very few points.
The Italian side will look to score a couple early on and with the possibility of the guests scoring one goal, we could easily see a high-scoring encounter, which is why I would go with the over.
MY PICK: Over 3.5 goals (-116)
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