Soccer Betting - Champions League Matchday 4 Preview
As many as eleven clubs can book their places early in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League in this week's group stage of Europe's best football competition. Here is a wagering preview of match day 4, with analysis and bet advice.
Chelsea, Valencia, Lyon, Bayern Munich and Manchester United all have a perfect nine points from three matches and can advance to the knockout stages with just one more win this week.
Bayern and Chelsea can in fact clinch first spot with two matches to spare.
Jose Mourinho's Chelsea side are once again featured on matchday four, as the reigning English champions visit the Nou Camp to face in Group A -- only two weeks after defeating Barca 1-0 at Stamford Bridge.
Barcelona, as the Champions League holders, face enormous pressure since their four points are equal to Werder Bremen, who face Levski Sofia on Tuesday, and drew with the Catalans in Germany. Werder are capable of scoring goals, and are a tempting bet at 100/1 to win the Champions League (available at Mansion Exchange).
Michael Ballack, Chelsea's German midfielder (ex-Bayern) declared Barcelona should watch out.
"We can wait and see. The pressure on us is much lower since we beat Barcelona in the first leg. Now the pressure is on them, and it will be tough for them to reach the next stage," Ballack asserted.
One issue for Barcelona has been coping with the loss of key striker Samuel Eto'o. The Cameroon international will be sidelined for another three to four months with a serious knee injury.
Eto'o's absence has put more weight on the shoulders of Barcelona playmakers Ronaldinho, Xavi, Deco and Iniesta.
"With Eto'o in the lineup, Ronaldinho has more options for combinations. When Ronaldinho has the ball, the opposing defence not only must concentrate on him but also where Eto'o is going. And that gives the Brazilian and others much more room," former Argentinean national team coach Jose Pekermann wrote in the Spanish newspaper El Pais.
"Without Eto'o, Barca play slower, more static and more predictable."
Manager Frank Rjikaard's club must quickly find a way to deal their loss of Eto'o. Otherwise the holders could find themselves plunked into the UEFA Cup.
Nonetheless, Barcelona are 1.90 bookies favourites for the match with a 2.17 bet odds for total goals over 2.5 (odds taken from Coral Betting).
Coach Felix Mageth's Bayern Munich team, meanwhile, have several minor injuries to deal with ahead of their home match against Sporting Lisbon – who have four points and sit in second spot in Group B.
Lukas Podolski, Valerien Ismael and Lucio are all hurt, while Bastian Schweinsteiger is suspended on a red card. Nonetheless, the Bavarians are odds-on 1.33 at home to win this game (available at Ladbrokes Betting)
Another high profile encounter comes Wednesday in Group G, where leader CSKA Moscow vist Arsenal (last year's Champions League finalists). CSKA beat the Gunners 1-0 in the Moscow last week, but will face a much sterner test at the Emirates Stadium. Those who fancy a punt on the Russians can bet on them at 8/1 odds (with Paddy Power bookmaker).