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As we approach the half way stage of the season, the final round of group games in Europe takes place this week. In the Champions League, eight of the 16 places in the knock-out stage have been secured while 11 places are still up for grabs in the Europa League with 13 teams already safely through. Charlie Mullan takes a look as some of the ties taking place that might be worth considering for your European accumulators.
BTTS: Salzburg v Liverpool, Standard Liege v Arsenal, Wolves v Besiktas
Liverpool are guaranteed to be playing European football in the New Year, however, they don’t know yet whether they stay on course to successfully defend their Champions League title or slip into the Europa League. The Reds go into their last Champions League Group E fixtures top of the group, but Napoli and Salzburg can still climb above Jurgen Klopp’s side. A draw will be enough for the Anfield side to progress while a win will see them advance as group winners.
Liverpool (10/11) could do without a trip to Salzburg (27/10) in their final game as the Austrians have proved to be a tough side to beat in their Champions League campaign, and Salzburg have Erling Braut Haaland to thank for being in with a chance of making it through to the knockout stage. Haaland is the competition’s second leading scorer with eight goals in his first five Champions League games. To put that into context, Cristiano Ronaldo – the competition’s all-time leading scorer with 127 – needed 36 games to score his eighth goal in Europe’s elite club competition. Haaland, who has scored 72 per cent of his team’s 11 Champions League goals, came off the bench to score against Liverpool in the reverse fixture and he will be looking to find the net this week to ensure he has scored in all six group games.
Five of Salzburg’s last six games in all competitions have seen goals for both them and their opponents while Liverpool’s 3-0 win at Bournemouth on Saturday was their first clean sheet in their last 14 league and cup games. SportPesa are offering odds of 15/4 for the home side to win this game with at least one goal for Liverpool who are 33/20 to win with both sides finding the net. A score draw is trading at 3/1.
Arsenal (1/1) are in a similar situation to Liverpool in that they are top of the Europa League group, but could find themselves missing out on qualification for the knock-out stage if they lose their final Group F game at Standard Liege (12/5). A draw will be enough for the Gunners to progress and they should be encouraged by the fact they beat the Belgians 4-0 at the Emirates at the start of October. The last six games in this group have seen BTTS land and with so much at stake, there is a good chance both these teams will find the back of the net.
Nine of Arsenal’s last 10 league and cup games before their trip to West Ham on Monday night have seen goals for both them and the team they have been playing while Standard Liege’s last seven matches in all competitions have seen BTTS happen including their 2-2 draw at Mouscron on Sunday despite being reduced to nine men. The Belgians are 4/1 to end their group stage with a win with Arsenal scoring at least one goal. The Gunners are 23/10 to win and BTTS landing while a scored draw is available at 3/1.
Wolves’ home game with Besiktas will be their 30th game of the season and sitting sixth in the Premier League, they have not found playing in the Europa League a distraction like Burnley did last season. Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo deserves huge credit for seeing his side through to the knockout stage with a game to spare, and this is a chance for the Portuguese boss to rest some of his key players ahead of a busy festive schedule as Wolves look to claim a top four finish in the Premier League. Besiktas have nothing but pride to play for.
The Turkish side are bottom of Group K with three points from their five games, but a win at Molineux and a defeat or a draw for Slovan Bratislava at home to Braga will see them avoid finishing fourth. Ten of the last 12 games Wolves (20/39) have played in all competitions have seen BTTS land and that includes their 2-2 draw at Brighton on Sunday which saw all four goals scored in the 11 minutes before half-time. Sunday’s 3-2 win at Kasimpasa was the third game in Besiktas’ last four to see BTTS land. The Premier League side are 23/10 to win this game with at least one goal for their Turkish visitors who are 21/2 to win with goals for both sides. A score draw is available at 4/1.
Over 2.5 goals: Bayern Munich v Tottenham, Olympiacos v Red Star Belgrade, PSV v Rosenborg
Group B in this season’s Champions League has been a fun group to watch. In the 10 games played so far, a total of 48 goals have been scored. Bayern know they will progress to the knockout stage as group winners while Jose Mourinho’s side will advance as runners-up. Between them, the Bundesliga side and Spurs have scored a total of 38 goals and conceded 15. And when the two sides met earlier in the group, Bayern ran riot in a 7-2 win at the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium after Spurs took a 12th minute lead.
With nothing to play for, those visiting the Allianz Stadium could be treated to another exhibition of goalscoring. Bayern (5/11) have this season’s competition’s leading scorer in Robert Lewandowski who has 10 goals in five games. Harry Kane (6) and Son Heung-Min (5) lead the way for the visitors with 11 between them. Tottenham’s 5-0 home win over Burnley on Saturday was the fifth successive game in which three or more goals were scored while 15 of Bayern’s last 16 games in all competitions this season have seen a minimum of three goals scored and includes their 2-1 defeat at Borussia Monchengladbach on Saturday.
Olympiacos (10/19) warmed up for their final game in this season’s Champions League by beating Panetolikos 3-0 away from home while Red Star Belgrade (21/4) also scored three goals in their home win against Subotica at the weekend. Unlike the other game in Group B, there is plenty at stake when these two sides go head-to-head in Piraeus. Red Star will enter the Europa League knockout stage in the New Year if they can avoid defeat while the Greeks need the win to be playing European football next spring.
Red Star’s only points in this group came in the reverse game which they won 3-1. All five of Red Star’s group games have seen three or more goals scored scored while Olympiacos’ 2-0 defeat at Bayern Munich is the only game in the group not to produce three or more goals so goals could be a feature in this contest. Two of Olympiacos’ last three games have seen three or more goals scored and they are 7/5 to end the group stage with a win in a game that has three or more total goals scored. Red Star are 10/1 to complete a double over the Greeks with a minimum of three goals scored in the tie. Both teams to score and over 2.5 goals is trading at 7/5.
PSV’s hopes of playing European football after Christmas are hanging in the balance. The Dutch side are three points behind ASK Linz in Group D who has been one of the surprise teams in this season’s competition. PSV (10/23) need to beat Rosenborg (13/2) at home and hope that ASK Linz lose at home to Sporting. The Austrian side can still finish top of Group D if they win on Thursday so they have plenty to play for. PSV will know a win might not be enough depending on what happens in the other group game.
Seven of PSV’s last eight games in all competitions have seen three or more goals scored including their 5-0 home win over Fortuna Sittard at the weekend. Rosenborg’s 3-2 home win over Ranheim was the sixth time in their last seven league and cup games in which three or more total goals were scored. PSV are 1/1 to win this final group game with over 2.5 total goals landing while the visitors to the Philips Stadium are 11/1 to claim the three points with at least three total goals scored. SportPesa are offering odds of 23/20 for both teams to score and over 2.5 goals.
A £10 bet on the BTTS accumulator has potential returns of £43.46
A £10 bet on the over 2.5 accumulator has potential returns of £44.73