Napoli hoping for a slice of good fortune
It is the Rafael Benitez derby this week, with two of the Newcastle manager’s former clubs set to lock horns at the Stadio San Paolo.
Residents of the home of pizza will have been cheesed off by Napoli’s failure to beat Red Star Belgrade in their opening fixture, and defeat to Liverpool here would leave them in a precarious position in a group which also features Paris Saint-Germain.
A high-scoring encounter looks to be on the cards, so it is worth a cheeky flutter on over 4.5 goals at a price of 4.40.
CSKA Moscow vs Real Madrid
Defending champions Real Madrid are seeking their fourth consecutive Champions League crown this season, while CSKA Moscow will simply be hoping to make it through to the knockout phase for the first time since 2011/12 when they were beaten by Los Blancos in the round of 16.
Some suggested Madrid would miss Cristiano Ronaldo this season, but while the Portuguese was getting himself sent off for pulling an opponent’s hair (we never thought Ronaldo, who must spend at least three hours a day looking in the mirror, would commit such an offence) Julen Lopetegui’s side were easing to a 3-0 victory over Roma.
I’m expecting another straightforward evening for the holders, so go for an away win to nil at 2.80.
Manchester United vs Valencia
Rumour has it that Jose Mourinho cracked a smile after his side’s 3-0 defeat of Young Boys in matchday one, which would be monumental news given how surly he has tended to look throughout his Manchester United tenure.
Disconcerting it may be, but it was also rather nice to see a successful, good-looking, highly-paid football manager not looking so miserable for a change – life could be far worse, Jose.
I don’t expect Valencia to wipe that smile off Mourinho’s face when they travel to Old Trafford, so go for a home win and under 2.5 goals at 4.20.
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Tottenham vs Barcelona
Tottenham enjoyed some memorable European nights at Wembley last term, vanquishing Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund on their way to top spot in the so-called group of death.
The mood in the white half of north London is not quite as positive heading into this match, and Lionel Messi will no doubt be licking his lips at the prospect of facing Eric Dier, who looks uncannily like Lancel Lannister from Game of Thrones and has recently been playing like him too.
Back Barcelona to prove too strong for Spurs at odds of 2.00.
Bayern Munich vs Ajax
This match features a European heavyweight with brilliant continental pedigree who continue to dominate their domestic division, but are now no longer among the favourites to win the Champions League.
But enough about Bayern Munich. We jest, of course – it is Ajax who have fallen the furthest since their most recent glory era of the mid-1990s, but the Bavarians have also come up short in their bid for a sixth European Cup since they last won the tournament in 2013.
This is likely to be a mismatch, though, so I recommend backing the home team to win both halves at 2.20.
Borussia Dortmund vs Monaco
Borussia Dortmund and Monaco met in the quarter-finals of the Champions League in 2016/17, but both teams look very different two seasons on.
These clubs share some similarities in that both like to develop young players before selling them on for a profit, but they are very different in terms of fan bases: while BVB play in front of one of Europe’s most loyal, numerous and vocal crowds, Monaco matches often have fewer attendees than my cousin’s Sunday league matches.
Regarding the football, go for over 2.5 goals and both teams to score at 2.10.
By Greg Lea
After many years of sports writing with an emphasis on football, including a stint at Sky Sports, Greg is here to help you with betting tips. Follow him on Twitter @greglea to get the latest updates before placing your bets.