THE ULTRA Weds: Champions League Preview

THE ULTRA Weds: Champions League Preview

Reading Time: 10 mins

WEDNESDAY CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Our football tipster The Ultra previews Wednesday’s games between ZENIT ST PETERSBURG v CHELSEA, MANCHESTER UNITED v YOUNG BOYS and BAYERN MUNICH v BARCELONA with a recommended BETDAQ bet and extended stats.


ZENIT ST PETERSBURG V CHELSEA

5.45pm We have the final Matchday of the Champions League Group stages on Wednesday and we have some huge games tonight! As I said in my preview on Tuesday, even though some sides are certain of qualifying, we do get an interesting situation from a betting point of view on BETDAQ Betting Exchange in regards to team news and motivation. It certainly makes for an interesting debate and we do some a lot of swings in the markets on the team news. Chelsea are already certain of going through to the Last 16, but they have the same amount of points as Juventus and they will want to be seeded in the winners pot. As I said yesterday, we’re going to have some blockbuster ties in the Last 16 looking at the teams in second already, but realistically you want to be in the winners pot to give yourself the best chance of an easier draw. If you end up playing PSG or Barcelona then that’s just the luck of the draw – Barcelona might not even qualify tonight!

Chelsea and Juventus were always going to be the top two in Group H, but Zenit St Petersburg will be happy with third and transferring to the Europa League – that was always going to be the case as Malmo were in this Group too, and to be honest Chelsea probably have more to play for here with Zenit certain of third. Chelsea suffered a big setback in the Premier League at the weekend when losing away to West Ham and getting overtaken by Manchester City and Liverpool at the top of the Premier League. They didn’t play well, and that followed an average performance against Watford away from home too. Lukaku was in the spotlight at the weekend given his poor run of form, and he desperately needs to score for his confidence soon! Chelsea actually had to work hard to beat Zenit when they had home advantage, and I was surprised to see Chelsea trading as short as 1.56 here. That’s a very tempting lay, but Zenit can keep this one close with Chelsea clearly struggling a little away from home over the last week – Zenit are the value bet at 1.6 with a 1.5 goal handicap.

The Ultra Says:
Two points win Zenit St Petersburg +1.5 goals to beat Chelsea at 1.6 with BETDAQ Exchange.

You can view all markets here -> https://bit.ly/BDQZenChe

MATCH STATS

● The only previous meeting between Zenit Saint Petersburg and Chelsea came earlier in this season’s UEFA Champions League, with the Blues recording a 1-0 victory at Stamford Bridge through Romelu Lukaku’s second-half winner.
● This will be the third time that Zenit Saint Petersburg have hosted English opponents in European competition, while they have won on the previous two occasions – 1-0 v Bradford City in the UEFA Intertoto Cup in July 2000 and 2-0 v Liverpool in the UEFA Europa League in February 2013.
● Chelsea have won each of their three away games against Russian opponents in the UEFA Champions League, most recently a 4-0 win against FK Krasnodar in October 2020. As well as winning all three games, the Blues have also kept a clean sheet on each occasion.
● Including qualifiers, this will be Zenit Saint Peterburg’s 200th game in European competition (currently W97 D35 L67). They will become just the second Russian team to reach 200 games across all European competitions, after Spartak Moscow (277).
● Since Thomas Tuchel’s first UEFA Champions League game in charge of Chelsea in February 2021, the Blues have only conceded three goals in 12 games in the competition. Their nine clean sheets in this period is the highest total of any team, while if they keep one in this game, they will be the fastest team and manager combination to reach 10 clean sheets in the competition (13 games), ahead of Ajax under Louis van Gaal, AC Milan under Fabio Capello and Real Madrid under José Mourinho (all 14 games).
● Chelsea have won their last three games in the UEFA Champions League without conceding a goal – the only previous English team to win four consecutive games in the competition while keeping a clean sheet on each occasion is Manchester United, who did so in 2003-04 and 2010-11 under Sir Alex Ferguson.
● Excluding own goals, Chelsea have had 14 different goal scorers in the UEFA Champions League under Thomas Tuchel; the most of any team in the competition since his first game in February 2021. The Blues’ top scorers in this period have scored just two goals each (Havertz, Mount, Werner, Ziyech and Jorginho).
● Artem Dzyuba has scored nine goals for Zenit Saint Petersburg in the UEFA Champions League, and could equal Hulk (10) as the club’s top scorer in the competition. Dzyuba, however, has gone six games without scoring in the UEFA Champions League, with his last goal coming in November 2020 versus Lazio.
● Just four players have created more chances following carries (moving 5+ metres with the ball) than Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi in the UEFA Champions League this season (5). Two of these have resulted in assists, with only Sheriff Tiraspol’s Cristiano (3) providing more assists from carries in the competition this term.
● Zenit Saint Petersburg defender Yaroslav Rakitskiy has been directly involved in three goals in the UEFA Champions League this season (one goal and two assists); more than any other player for the Russian side, including netting a 90th minute equaliser against Malmö last time out.


MANCHESTER UNITED V YOUNG BOYS

8pm The Ralf Rangnick era has got off to a good start at Manchester United and I’m sure he was delighted to keep a clean sheet against Crystal Palace at the weekend. That was United’s first home clean sheet for many weeks, however it’s not all good. A quick look at the xG figures will show you that United only created an xG of 0.89 and conceded 1.04. It was a very even game, and they were lucky to win. It was a good sign that they grinded out a win though, as that’s basically something they weren’t doing under Solskjaer. There’s still a lot of work to do, but Rangnick seems the right fit for the moment. Cast your memory back to when United played Young Boys at the start of the Group. They came into that game on a high with Ronaldo just arriving and scoring goals, and then crashed back down to earth with a 2-1 loss. United actually took the lead early through Ronaldo, only for Wan-Bissaka to get sent off in the 35th minute and Young Boys scored an injury time winner. That was the start of United dropping a lot of points and eventually Ole being sacked. A lot can happen during a Champions League Group stage!

Despite that loss, United come into the final Matchday sitting top of the table and they are sure of going through to the Last 16. There’s a fascinating situation below them, with Villarreal on seven points, Atalanta on five and Young Boys on four. Young Boys have a very poor goal difference, so it seems the best they can hope for is Europa League if they can somehow win here. It seems Rangnick will focus on trying to make United more solid at the back, and I would expect another relatively cagey performance here compared to their very open tactics under Solskjaer. Young Boys are very limited away from home, and United will more than likely control this game. They should win, but they are priced fairly at 1.43. I see the value here being in the goals market, and under 2.5 goals makes appeal at 2.58. I was surprised to see it trading so high given United’s likely new tactics and we could have another dull affair as we did at Old Trafford at the weekend.

The Ultra Says:
Two points win Under 2.5 goals at 2.58 with BETDAQ Exchange.

You can view all markets here -> https://bit.ly/BDQMunYou

MATCH STATS

● This will be the fourth meeting between Manchester United and Young Boys in the UEFA Champions League – the Red Devils won the first two in the 2018-19 group stage, before losing 1-2 away from home earlier in this season’s competition.
● Swiss teams have only won two of their last 27 away games against English teams in European competition (D8 L17), with both of those victories being achieved by Basel – 2-1 v Chelsea in September 2013 and Manchester City in March 2018. Young Boys are winless in their four attempts among these fixtures, drawing once and losing three of them.
● Since losing to Young Boys on MD1 of this season’s UEFA Champions League, Manchester United have gone unbeaten in their last four games in the competition (W3 D1) – they last went five without defeat in the UEFA Champions League in the 2013-14 group stage under David Moyes (6), winning four and drawing two.
● Young Boys have lost their last six away games in the European Cup/UEFA Champions League, between 1986 and 2021, with their last away win coming back in August 1960 against Limerick. The Swiss side have failed to score in five of their last six away from home across the competitions (one goal in total), while they’ve conceded 15 goals in return.
● Manchester United have won three games with goals scored in the final 15 minutes of play in the UEFA Champions League this season (v Villarreal x2 and v Atalanta); the most of any team. This season’s reverse fixture between the Red Devils and Young Boys was also won with a goal scored in the final 15 minutes of the game, with Jordan Siebatcheu netting a 95th minute winner for the Swiss side.
● Young Boys have never kept a clean sheet in the UEFA Champions League, with this set to be their 12th match in the competition. Only two sides have currently played more games in the competition without ever keeping a clean sheet – Maccabi Tel Aviv and SK Rapid Wien (both 12 games).
● Cristiano Ronaldo has scored in all five of his UEFA Champions League appearances since returning to Manchester United (six goals). The Portuguese will be looking to repeat the feat of scoring in all six group stage games in a single UEFA Champions League campaign, having previously done so for Real Madrid in 2017-18 – the only previous instance of this in the competition’s history.
● Michel Aebischer assisted two of Young Boys’ three goals against Atalanta last time out in the UEFA Champions League – the Swiss midfielder leads all players for the team for assists (2) and chances created (8) in the competition this season.
● Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo has scored in each of his last five UEFA Champions League appearances – only Ruud van Nistelrooy has ever had a longer streak of scoring in consecutive UEFA Champions League appearances for the club (9 in April 2003 and 6 in February 2002).
● Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes has made more assists than any other player in the UEFA Champions League this season (5). The last player to make more than five in a single campaign in the competition for the Red Devils was Ryan Giggs in 2006-07, who made seven in eight appearances.


BAYERN MUNICH V BARCELONA

8pm We finish Wednesday evening with a blockbuster Champions League fixture! Bayern Munich host Barcelona and we have a fascinating situation in Group E. Bayern are certain to finish in top spot, however Barcelona are certain of finishing second and could end the evening in the Europa League. They are currently in second on seven points, with Benfica in third on five points. Benfica play at home tonight against Dynamo Kiev in a game that they should win – they are trading at 1.35 to do so at the moment, so a loss here would see Barcelona drop to third. I know it’s been a very challenging season for Barcelona, but getting knocked out of the Champions League at this stage would be a new low and an embarrassing moment in the clubs history. The way they are playing too, they wouldn’t even be certain of going on a good run in the Europa League either. It was always going to be a tricky season for Barcelona, but their drop in quality has been dramatic.

This game is slightly tricky from a betting point of view. Like I said, Bayern are certain of first place so basically they have nothing to play for here and we could see a number of changes to their starting XI. It was nice to land a Max Bet on them at the weekend when they beat Dortmund in a massive clash at the top of the Bundesliga, but that win would have taken its toll in such a big game and to be honest, this is a good chance to rest some stars. I don’t think Bayern will rest players when you host Barcelona however, and given the history between European giants it’s possibly a good target for Bayern to knock Barcelona out. In that sense, Bayern are a tempting bet at 1.71 given how poor Barcelona have been this season – they have thrown in so many poor away performances too, but I’m unsure of the team news so I feel the best option is too limit stakes. I’m happy to back Bayern, but I also want to keep stakes small. If they name a strong XI, then we can increase stakes.

The Ultra Says:
One point win Bayern Munich to beat Barcelona at 1.71 with BETDAQ Exchange.

You can view all markets here -> https://bit.ly/BDQBayBar

MATCH STATS

● Bayern Munich have won each of their last three meetings with Barcelona in European competition (3-2 in May 2015, 8-2 in August 2020 and 3-0 in September 2021), which is already the longest run of victories by a team against Barcelona in the history of the European Cup/UEFA Champions League.
● Barcelona have only lost two of their last 13 away games against German opponents in the UEFA Champions League (W6 D5), and are unbeaten in the most recent three (W1 D2). Their two defeats in this run both came against Bayern Munich, however, in 2012-13 and 2014-15.
● Bayern Munich are unbeaten in five games when hosting Barcelona in European competition (W3 D2), while they’ve won the most recent two – 4-0 in April 2013 and 3-2 in May 2015. Both of those games came in the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League.
● Barcelona have taken just seven points from their five games in the UEFA Champions League this season (W2 D1 L2). If they fail to avoid defeat here, it will be their second-worst performance in terms of points in a single group stage in the competition, behind only 1997-98 (5 – W1 D2 L3).
● Bayern Munich have averaged five goals per home game in the UEFA Champions League so far this season (5-0 v Dynamo Kyiv and 5-2 v Benfica), the most of any team. They have scored at least 2+ goals in each of their last 11 home games in the UEFA Champions League, which is the longest such run by a team in the competition since Bayern themselves between September 2010 and December 2012 (13).
● Barcelona have only scored four goals in their last eight UEFA Champions League games, while they haven’t scored more than once in a game since a 3-0 win over Ferencvárosi TC in December 2020. Their current run of eight games scoring fewer than two goals is their longest ever in the European Cup/UEFA Champions League.
● Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski is the top scorer in this season’s UEFA Champions League (9 goals), and could become the only player in the history of the competition to score 10+ goals in a group stage of the competition on multiple occasions, having previously done so in 2019-20 (10). Cristiano Ronaldo (11 in 2015-16) and Lionel Messi (10 in 2016-17) are the only other players to have achieved this once.
● Robert Lewandowski has scored in each of his last nine appearances for Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League, and could become only the second player in the competition’s history to score in 10 in a row, after Cristiano Ronaldo for Real Madrid between June 2017 and April 2018 (a run of 11).
● Memphis Depay is yet to score in the UEFA Champions League for Barcelona, and has only attempted five shots in 435 minutes of play in this season’s competition. In his last campaign in the competition, with Lyon in 2019-20, Depay scored six goals in 594 minutes and averaged 3.2 shots per 90.
● Bayern Munich’s Thomas Müller has scored seven goals in six appearances against Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League – his most against a single opponent in the competition. Indeed, Müller’s tally of seven goals is the most of any player against Barcelona in the history of the European Cup/UEFA Champions League.


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