IT IS THE LAST DAY OF GROUP STAGE PLAY IN THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE AS TEAMS ARE LOOKING TO SNAG THE FINAL SPOTS OF THE KNOCKOUT STAGES
Wag record: 28-25
This terrible losing streak of mine started with the most recent Champions League slate a few weeks ago. This is my revenge game. This is where the hungry dogs run faster, and I am starving! Here are the following teams that clinched their spot in the knockout stages: PSG, Real Madrid, FC Bayern, Tottenham, Manchester City, Juventus, and FC Barcelona. It is a win or go home situation for Ajax, Valencia, and Chelsea in Group H as Ajax has a 2 point lead over both Valencia and Chelsea and the Dutchmen play host to Valencia on Tuesday. It is tricky to bet on a few of these games because some teams don’t need results to change their outcome, and other teams need other outcomes to control their destiny. And there are teams who don’t give a shit about this week but are there to say hello. We are in for a wild ride.
Ajax vs. Valencia
Group H leaders Ajax only need a tie to solidify their spot in the Champions League knockout stage as Valencia need a win to solidify their spot, or they need to Chelsea to lose against Lille. Either way both these teams need a result which makes this a juicy game to gamble on. When Ajax visited Valencia, they killed the Spaniards 3-0 in a game that was slightly skewed Valencia’s way. Valencia had 57% ball possession, created more dangerous opportunities, and more shots. However, Ajax’s defense was the key to this game as they blocked 5 shots from Valencia where the dutch could follow with a counter. Exactly why Ziyech was able to have space to rocket a shot in the 8th-minute. But when Valencia shanked their penalty kick it was all over for the spaniards before they even knew it.
- Ajax have never lost to Valencia
- Valencia has 1 loss vs. dutch teams, 3-0 previously vs. Ajax
- Valencia have won 1 of last 7 away Champions League games
I think Ajax brings it home on Tuesday. Ajax have scored the most goals and have conceded the least goals in Group H as they should be the group winners. Valencia’s offense has been slow when they play away from home, scoring 1 goal against a Lille team where they scored 4 in the reverse fixture. I think Ajax are also going to play it safe because all they need is a tie to go through. Ajax Money Line and Under 3.5 total goals are your best bets.
Napoli vs. KRC Genk
After beating Liverpool in their first Champions League fixture this year, Napoli still see themselves in second place in Group E with no room for comfort. The Belgian side of Genk will travel to the Amalfi Coast to play Napoli as their reverse fixture ended in a stalemate. Napoli hit the post three times as 18 shots failed to find the back of the net compared to Genk’s 15. Napoli controlled a majority of the game only allowing Genk to attack on counter attacks. Napoli kept turning the ball over committing strategical fouls to avoid a Genk counter attack. Thankfully it worked otherwise we would be telling a different story. But if you think Genk are going to let Napoli waltz all over them, think again because those players know that they aren’t moving on to the knockout stages. This could be some of the Genk’s players last Champions League game of their professional career.
- Napoli never lost to a Belgian team at home
- Genk are unbeaten in 4 games vs. Italian teams
- Napoli are unbeaten in their last 6 home Champions League games
The public are putting a lot of faith into Napoli for this fixture as the money line spread is at -600. Genk is not that bad of a team, considering they lost at Anfield 2-1, but then losing 1-4 at home against Salzburg doesn’t put you in a good picture either. I think Genk is going to play with a lot more pride as Napoli could go through with a tie, assuming Liverpool beats Salzburg. So the Under is my favorite bet.
Atletico Madrid vs. Lokomotiv Moscow
Atletico Madrid couldn’t beat Juventus to tie them on top of Group D. So now Atletico have to beat a tough Lokomotiv team and hope Bayer Leverkusen don’t play like rockstars against Juventus to be able to move onto the knockout stages. Lokomotiv are strong away from home as they beat Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 and then lose 2-1 to Juventus where the Russians lead the game for 40+ minutes. Remember the Dybala free kick? But Atletico have managed to win only one Champions League home game so far, which was against Leverkusen as they scored in the 79th-minute. Atletico are sleeping the first half and then spring to life during the second half. Will this be replicated one final time in the group stages?
- Atletico have won 3 of 4 meetings vs. Lokomotiv
- Atletico are unbeaten in 8 games vs. Russian teams
- Lokomotiv have never won away vs. Spanish teams, losing 6 of 7
I wish the public gave Lokomotiv some faith because this is not going to be a blowout as the public thinks it will be. I get it, yes it is a Russian team playing against one of the biggest clubs in soccer but Lokomotiv have been a handful when they play away. Also Atletico’s offense is abysmal barely winning games by a goal, or the goal came in the late stages of the game. Unless Atletico scored an early goal, the Under is your best bet.
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Juventus
On the other side of Group D, Bayer Leverkusen look to solidify their knockout stage place with a win against already clinched Juventus. The Italian team took care of business when Bayer traveled to Turin, beating the Germans 3-0. Juventus doesn’t need to play this game since they clinched winning their group. If Atletico tie, or even lose to Lokomotiv, Juventus will have the spaniards fate in their hands because they can easily let Bayer Leverkusen score and let the Germans advance. Think about it, who would you rather get paired up in the following round, assuming Bayer or Atletico would have won their Round of 16 matchup. I would want to play Bayer Leverkusen on any day of the week. But one thing is for sure, we have hungry dogs playing against some chilled out sloths.
- Home team has won 3 straight fixtures between the two teams
- Juventus won 1 of 7 matches away vs. German teams
- Leverkusen have lost 2 of 17 home games in European competitions
Tell you what, I’m ALL OVER my german brothers. The fact that Juventus doesn’t give a damn about this fixture, and the possibility of Atletico shitting the bed due to their offensive woes are the ingredients for a Leverkusen win. The germans can hope for a tie in Madrid, but they have to take care of their own business before anything else can happen. Plus Juventus are afraid of Germans….Good.
Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Atalanta
With Manchester City already having won Group C, the other three teams have a good chance to advance to the knockout stages if they take care of business. Shakhtar need to tie, and have Zagreb tie or lose for them to advance. Atalanta need a win and a Zagreb tie or loss for them to advance. Literally a win or go home situation for the Italians who are on the rise in the Champions League. After losing 4-0 against Zagreb, Atalanta lost to Shakhtar in the 95th-minute, get humped by City but bounce back to a 1-1 tie, and then they got revenge against Zagreb. Shakhtar also tied City in their recent Champions League outing, but the Italian team travels to a hostile Ukrainian environment that can intimidate a hungry pride of lions.
- Atalanta have 1 Champions League win ever, beating Zagreb recently
- Shakhtar have 0 wins in 5 home Champions League games
- Atalanta has lost last 2 away Champions League games conceding 9 goals
Although Atalanta are finding their way in the Champions League, it could be too late to get anything out of their campaign especially traveling to the Ukraine. Shakhtar’s winless home record is about to change because I’m sure their fans wouldn’t let them not win at home. They thrive at home and I know the fans will do their part for Shakhtar ti win this game.