A hugely important game in Italy, as Lazio host Club Brugge with the Italians needing a point to qualify, but a win for Brugge would see them progress.
Lazio are unbeaten in the competition so far, impressing through five games and seeing both of their wins coming at home, thumping Dortmund and Zenit 3-1.
Their average of 1.7 xGF per game is the best in the group, though defensively they are vulnerable (1.3 xGA per game).
The impetus is on Brugge to win this game which should make it stretched, and that doesn’t bode well for the Belgians who have allowed a combined 4.0 xGA in their two away matches in the UCL. Over 2.5 goals looks good to me in this game, with Lazio picking off Brugge to progress.
RB Leipzig head into this game needing to win to qualify, though a draw suits United thanks to their 5-0 victory over the Germans at Old Trafford.
Leipzig needed a late winner in Turkey against İstanbul Başakşehir, but the victory was fully deserved based on expected goals (xG: BAS 0.7 – 2.1 RBL).
Julian Naglesmann’s side went to Bayern Munich at the weekend and drew 3-3 in preparation to this game, and overall their process shows that they are one of Europe’s elite (1.8 xGF, 1.1 xGA per game).
Manchester United will be able to play to their strengths here given the state of the group, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can set his side up to operate on the counter-attack, a system that blew the doors off RBL in the reverse game.
I expect them to score given Leipzig’s recent shaky defensive displays, but with the way United defended in the last week, allowing 5.8 xGA combined against PSG and West Ham, it’s hard to see them keeping a clean sheet.
Whatever happens, goals should flow. Whoever takes the lead knows they will face an onslaught from their opponents, meaning I like BTTS.
Inter Milan know a win may not be enough here to qualify, but they must get a victory to have any chance of qualifying, while a draw could be enough for Shakhtar depending on the result of Real Madrid vs Borussia Mönchengladbach.
The bottom line is that both need to win to guarantee progression to the knockout rounds.
Inter got back up off the canvas with a clutch 3-2 win in Germany against Gladbach, and although the win was deserved based on xG, Antonio Conte’s side continue to look exceptionally dangerous in attack yet vulnerable at the back.
Their process throughout the competition has been steady (1.6 xGF, 1.2 xGA per game), but overall in 20/21, Inter have kept just three clean sheets in 15 games, failing to score in just two of those.
Shakhtar embarrassed Real Madrid for a second time this season, beating the record Champions League winners 2-0 in Ukraine thanks to an excellent second-half performance.
They possess a real threat on the counter-attack, but defensively they have been shocking in the UCL, allowing an average of 2.1 xGA per game. I like the look of BTTS in this crunch match.
A point could prove enough for both sides depending on the result of Inter Milan vs Shakhtar, but a win for either guarantees qualification, and most likely wins the group. Real Madrid have suffered two losses in the UCL group stage, both against Shakhtar, with the previous meeting between these two sides finishing in an entertaining 2-2 draw (xG: BMG 1.4 – 2.6 RMA).
Zinedine Zidane is under pressure, but his side boast the best xG process in Group B (1.7 xGF, 1.0 xGA per game), and face a vulnerable defensive unit. Borussia Mönchengladbach were involved in yet another crazy high-scoring game last week, with that 3-2 loss to Inter meaning that all of their five UCL games have seen over 3.5 goals.
They pose a real threat in attack undoubtedly, especially when allowed to counter, but defensively they have looked horrendous at times this season, both in Europe and domestically. Marco Rose’s side allowed 4.4 xGA at the weekend against Freiburg and have conceded an average of 1.8 xGA per game in the Champions League, so Real will be licking their lips at the thought of playing this BMG backline.
Over 2.5 goals is perhaps a conservative play in this game, but it does represent value based on the Infogol model.
This week’s Champions League acca
- The above 4 selections in a Paddy Power acca clocks in at around 5/1
Tomorrow’s top tips
- Arsenal to beat the handicap in this 8/1 Same Game Multi v Dundalk
- DOUBLE: 6/1 pair of bets for Leicester and Spurs’ Thursday night matches
- Our 22/1 acca for Thursday’s final round of Europa League action