Madrid look magic in Portugal
Madrid look magic in Portugal
Ben Coley previews Tuesday's action in the Champions League and fancies Atletico Madrid to beat Porto.
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There are three British clubs in action in the Champions League on Tuesday and each is involved in a fascinating clash.
Arsenal bid to continue their superb run of form by beating Napoli in what will be the first meeting of the two clubs, Chelsea face a tricky trip to Steau Bucharest having been shocked by Basel in their first game, while Celtic once again entertain Barcelona.
Neil Lennon will, I'm sure, play down the significance of Celtic's remarkable victory over Barca in the equivalent fixture last season, but fans inside Parkhead will not and without Lionel Messi, the Catalan giants may not find redemption easy.
I certainly don't think Barcelona are backable in any way, shape or form at 4/11, and if there is a bet here it's Celtic and the draw at 5/2. The Scottish Premiership champions held out for over 80 minutes in the San Siro and have been in good form domestically; they're certainly not without hope.
Arsenal's game is particularly hard to assess. Napoli might've been passed by Roma at the top of Serie A before kick-off, but there's no denying that they've started this season in excellent form and were value for victory over Dortmund in the first round of fixtures.
Again, I think the favourites are too short. It's well-documented that Arsenal don't have great depth in attack or defence and that much of their best work has been done on the road of late, and evens is giving nothing away.
Bookmakers have also caught up with Aaron Ramsey, who again found the net on Saturday and is now more than half the price he was then to repeat the trick here. All things considered, it's a game to watch and not to bet on.
Chelsea are the ones who might look overpriced, particularly if they're allowed to drift to the even-money mark come kick-off.
Steau sit second in the Romanian top flight and are a force to be reckoned with at home, as Chelsea found out when losing 1-0 in the Europa League last season.
However, they've struggled in Europe so far this season, failing to impress in qualifying before losing 3-0 to a Schalke side who've not pulled up any trees in the Bundesliga as yet.
I can't advise Chelsea now because I do think they could well drift, but if you can get evens it's worth taking.
So, to a bet and I like the look of Atletico Madrid away at Porto, purely on value grounds.
My colleague Ben Linfoot advised Diego Simeone's side as a value punt in the outright market, and having won seven from seven in La Liga that's beginning to look an astute bit of business.
Saturday night saw them beat rivals Real deservedly, and the way they played on the break at the Bernabeu suggests to me that they're well-equipped to produce some surprise results on their travels where they may be at their most effective.
Of course, victory in Porto wouldn't go down as a surprise result as such but they are priced up as marginal underdogs and that to me looks wrong.
Porto have done what we might call the usual, that is start the season strongly and win the games we'd expect them to win in their domestic league.
However, a 1-0 success against Guimaraes on Friday night with a goal from the penalty spot followed a 2-2 draw at Estoril, which when combined with a 1-0 win in Vienna hardly makes for a daunting formbook from an Atletico perspective.
Porto did beat Malaga in the home leg of their last-16 tie last season but this Atletico side, even without the suspended Diego Costa in attack, look an altogether different proposition and good value at a shade under 2/1.
Similarly, I like the look of Ajax against AC Milan.
Milan beat Sampdoria on Saturday but prior to it needed two goals in the closing five minutes to salvage a point from a trip to Bologna. It was a similar story 11 days earlier when a late double salvo saw them draw at Torino, and when we throw in a previous away defeat to Verona it's clear they're not travelling well at present.
Massimiliano Allegri's side weren't particularly impressive in beating Celtic either and in Ajax they face a side capable of producing fireworks, as we saw when they scored six goals in 20 second-half minutes to beat Go Ahead Eagles on Saturday night.
Of course, this is a step up in grade for the Dutch side and they'd previously been on the receiving end of hidings at Barcelona and PSV, but this is a team who've beaten both Manchester clubs in recent years and they're on the front foot now.
Ajax also have positive memories from this fixture having taken four points from two games when last grouped with Milan, and at bigger than 2/1 a small bet looks worthwhile.
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