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EUROPE: UEFA Champions League preview

UEFA Champions League

Take a look at the eight Champions League matches taking place throughout Europe on October 1st.

Group A

Atletico Madrid vs Juventus 

The match of the round sees the Italian Champions Juventus visit the Spanish Champions Atletico Madrid. Last season’s runners-up Atletico suffered a shock 3-2 defeat by Olympiakos in their opening match, and since losing striker Diego Costa to Chelsea have been heavily reliant on set pieces for goals. “A set piece can change a game, and we have plenty of players who can bury the ball” says Atletico’s top scorer Brazilian centre-back Joao Miranda.

Juventus have not conceded a goal in a run of five successive wins in Serie A, and opened the Champions League campaign with an easy 2-0 victory over Malmo. Atletico will have to be wary of Argentinian striker Carlos Tevez, who has scored six goals in four games and coach Massimiliano Allegri says he is fulfilling his potential and dictating games.

Malmo vs Olympiakos

After going down to a brace of Tevez goals in their opener, Malmo must get something out of their clash with Greek champions Olympiakos.

Olympiakos lost at the weekend, suggesting they are concentrating on Wednesday night’s match.

Striker Kostas Mitroglou has rediscovered his scoring touch since he returned from a very disappointing spell with English outfit Fulham. He scored in the recent league win over Veria and also during the splendid victory over Atletico.

For Malmo, who lost the 1979 final 1-0 to Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest, anything but a win will make qualification even for the Europa League difficult. Their striker Emil Forsberg however racked up his second hat-trick of the season in a morale boosting 4-1 win over Mjallby, his second triple of the season.

Group B

Ludogorets v Real Madrid

As their own stadium is judged unworthy by UEFA, Ludogorets will host 10-time champions Real Madrid in the distant National Stadium some 400km away in Sofia. The Bulgarian champions made the last-16 of the Europa League last season where they were beaten by Valencia. And they almost grabbed a point at Anfield in their Champions League debut before a late penalty by Steven Gerrard grabbed a fortuitous 2-1 win for Liverpool.

Real Madrid visit with their hosts not enjoying a good run of form, they have won less than half their games this season. So the likes of world player of the year Cristiano Ronaldo, with eight goals in three games, Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez should be too much for the home side and their rookie coach Georgi Dermendzhiev. Real thumped Basel 5-1 in their opener where Ronaldo got his 53rd goal in 52 champions league games for Real Madrid.

Basel vs Liverpool 

Five-time champions Liverpool face a tricky game at Swiss dark horses Basel, who beat Chelsea home and away ai the same stage last season.

The last time Liverpool travelled to St. Jakob-Park they rallied from 3-0 down for a 3-3 draw in 2003. Much is expected of Liverpool’s inconsistent but talented Italian international striker Mario Balotelli, who has yet to show he is capable of filling the giant gap left by Luis Suarez’s departure as the team have fallen to three defeats in their last five Premier League outings. Basel have won seven from ten in the Swiss league and can usually be counted on to get a goal. Add that to Liverpool’s leaky defence and Basel are far from the outsiders generous bookies odds suggest.

Group C

Zenit St Petersburg vs Monaco

The Russian leaders are off to a flying start in their first full season under Andre Villas Boas and will prove formidable opponents for a Monaco side who have yet to hit their stride under new coach Leonardo Jardim. Zenit, the 2008 UEFA Cup champions, have a perfect home record of three wins from three against French opposition in Champions League action while Monaco have a draw and two defeats on their travels to Russia. Both sides won their opening games in what is a competitive and open if not outstanding group. Early goals from Hulk and Axel Witsel saw Zenit defeat Benfica 2-0 in Lisbon and Monaco edged Bayer Leverkusen 1-0 in the principality.

Bayern Leverkusen vs Benfica

Portuguese champions Benfica got off to the worst possible start in their bid to reach the European Cup final for the first time since 1990. 

A 2-0 home defeat against Zenit means Jorge Jesus’s side are under immense pressure to pick up what would only be their fourth victory in 23 trips to German territory.

Leverkusen, the 2002 runners-up to Real Madrid, are lying third in the Bundesliga having lost once in six matches and are three points behind Bayern Munich. The teams met during the 2012-13 Europa League round of 32 with the Portuguese coming out on top before losing against Chelsea in the final — and went down to a second successive defeat in the final last term on penalties to Sevilla.

Group D

Arsenal vs Galatasaray 

Injury-ravaged Arsenal, who have never lifted the European Cup, take on Galatasaray for the first time since the Istanbul side defeated the Gunners on penalties in the 2000 UEFA Cup final. Mikel Arteta, Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere all picked up injuries in the bruising 1-1 Premier League draw against North London rivals Tottenham at the Emirates on Saturday.

The Turks are looking for their first win on English soil after three draws and six defeats in their nine previous visits. Arsenal are playing in their 17th consecutive Champions League group phase after knocking out another Istanbul side Besiktas 1-0 in the final qualifying round.

Anderlecht vs Borussia Dortmund

A victory for Dortmund, who lost to Bundesliga rivals Bayern Munich in the 2013 final, would give them six points from two matches and guaranteed possession of first place in the group.

Their only meeting in European action was during the 1990 UEFA Cup when the Belgians went through to the fourth round on away goals after a 2-2 aggregate draw.

Dortmund have won once in four trips to Belgium while Anderlect, the Belgian champions, have lost only four times at home to German clubs in 14 meetings.

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Betting previews and tips

  • Celtic vs. Dinamo Zagreb - Europa League Preview

    Todays Betting Previews - Oct 1, 2014 | 05:34 am

    Celtic vs. Dinamo Zagreb - Europa League Preview Armed with a massive win against Astra, the online betting favorite, Dinamo Zagreb confronts Celtic with overflowing confidence that they will dominate Group B soon. Though Celtic has the right to be a little bit relaxed since they will be playing at home, they cannot afford to do so due to the risk of suffering a major thrashing.Celtic vs. Dinamo Zagreb Match Date: 02 October 2014 (local time) Venue: Celtic Park

  • Astra vs. Salzburg - Europa League Preview

    Todays Betting Previews - Oct 1, 2014 | 05:28 am

    Astra vs. Salzburg - Europa League Preview A massive thrashing from the sports betting favorite, Dinamo Zagreb pressures Astra to snatch an important win against Salzburg. With the help of its home court advantage, the squad hopes to dominate the clash and eventually, continue its run in the Europa League.As for Salzburg, the upcoming game is an opportunity to feature in the competition and advance in its latter stages.Astra vs. Salzburg Match Date: 02 October 2014 (local time) Venue: Marin Anastasovici

  • Tottenham vs. Beşiktaş - Europa League Preview

    Todays Betting Previews - Oct 1, 2014 | 05:23 am

    Tottenham vs. Beşiktaş - Europa League Preview A frustrated Besiktas travels to White Hart Lane in an attempt to snatch a win that will help them dominate the group.But achieving such goal will not be easy for the visitors. Tottenham, the favorite of online bookies, is just as hungry as they are –they are willing to do everything to secure the points.Tottenham vs. Beşiktaş Match Date: 02 October 2014 (local time) Venue: White Hart Lane

  • Arsenal vs. Tottenham - Premier League Preview

    Todays Betting Previews - Sep 24, 2014 | 07:00 am

    Arsenal vs. Tottenham - Premier League Preview Arsenal moved into the ranks of the Premier League elite when it has successfully avenged its controversial loss to Aston Villa last season. The club currently sits on the 4th spot of the table and one could wish that its momentum continues despite a disappointing loss to Southampton in the Capital One Cup.The next test for the sports betting favorite will be Tottenham, which, like them is eager to scoop 3 important points.Arsenal vs. Tottenham Match Date: 27 September 2014 (local) Match Venue: Emirates Stadium

  • Manchester City vs. Chelsea - Premier League Preview

    Todays Betting Previews - Sep 18, 2014 | 23:42 pm

    Manchester City vs. Chelsea - Premier League Preview This battle would serve as one of the tournament’s most anticipated fixtures.Manchester City vs. Chelsea Match Date: 21 September 2014 (local) Match Venue: Etihad Stadium


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