The Champions League is back for matchday two this week, and there are mixed fortunes in store for the British clubs involved in the tournament. Leicester had the perfect start to life among Europe’s elite last time out, with a 3-0 win away in Belgium against Club Brugges. They face a much tougher challenge this Tuesday night against Porto, albeit on home ground.
Manchester City have won every competitive game so far this season under Pep Guardiola, and their match away at Celtic is easily the pick of the round as far as British clubs are concerned. Celtic Park has traditionally been a tough place to go in European competition, but there is a severe gulf in class between the two teams. The Citizens have been ruthless in the Champions League so far, after beating Steaua Bucharest 6-0 on aggregate in the qualifying round, and thumping Monchengladbach 4-0 in their first group game.
Spurs face a a tough away trip to Russia to play CSKA Moscow, a match which takes on all the more importance after suffering a 2-1 ‘home’ defeat to Monaco on matchday one. Playing their Champions League fixtures at Wembley rather than White Hart Lane may not favour Spurs this season, and one wouldn’t be rushing to back them to get a result in Russia either. Their North London neighbours, Arsenal, grabbed a creditable, if unlikely, draw at PSG on matchday one, and a home tie against Basel should bring three points. However, there’s only one game that captures the imagination and that’s where we start.
Celtic v Manchester City
Man City are -102 with Bet365 to beat a -1.5 Asian handicap, and on balance of form so far it looks a bet worth taking.
Celtic had an eventful qualifying campaign, but navigated their way past three rounds to reach the group stage proper. It was a baptism of fire on their return to the elite competition as they were drawn to face Barcelona away on matchday one. A 7-0 defeat against Messi & Co. was humiliating, but not many sides will take anything from the Nou Camp this season, and their qualification for the group stages won’t rest on the result in that game. However, a group which contains Man City and Borussia Monchengladbach doesn’t get any easier. Brendan Rodgers will be hoping that the famous Celtic Park atmosphere can galvanise his side to a performance, but they will have to be at their very best to live with Guardiola’s City.
The former Barcelona and Bayern coach has had an instant impact at Manchester City, and their 100% start to the season in all competitions looks set to continue on Wednesday night. They’ve swept aside teams lower in the Premier League such as Stoke, West Ham and Bournemouth this term, but the results that have caught the eye have been the 2-1 away win at Manchester United, the 5-0 away thrashing of Steaua Bucharest, and the 4-0 drubbing of Monchengladbach. City have scored at least two goals in all but one of their games this season, and that was the 1-0 home win over Steaua when they already led 5-0 on aggregate. One thing Guardiola hasn’t changed is the form of Sergio Aguero, who continues to bang in the goals, but he is now being ably supported by the likes of Sterling, De Bruyne, Nolito and Silva.
The Citizens warmed up to this one with a 3-1 Premier League victory over Swansea, with Aguero on the scoresheet twice, and he is in dangerous form. Celtic warmed up with a 6-1 win over Kilmarnock with strikers Griffiths and Dembele on target twice each, and their hopes will rest on the two frontmen and the rejuvenated Scott Sinclair. If City cope with the atmosphere, however, this should be a comfortable win and they are worth backing to make it by two clear goals.
Leicester v Porto
Leicester’s title win last season was built on a solid defence and a razor-sharp counter attack, but there has been little evidence of the former this season so far. They’ve conceded four goals in three of the last five games. A 4-1 defeat at Liverpool was followed by 3-0 victories over Brugges and Burnley, but they shipped four goals (after extra time) in the EFL Cup defeat to Chelsea, before letting in four before half-time at Old Trafford against Man United at the weekend. The 3-0 win in Belgium was impressive but Brugges were not without chances, and could have easily got on the scoresheet and affected the result.
Porto are a Champions League stalwart, and the Portuguese side have vast experience at the top level. They opened their campaign with a 1-1 home draw against FC Copenhagen, which will be seen as a poor result in Portugal, and they have work to do. Prior to the competition starting they will have fancied themselves to top this group, and will offer an attacking threat at the King Power Stadium. Leicester are also scoring freely this season, and have only failed to find the net in the 0-0 draw with Arsenal. Their last six games have gone over 2.5 goals, as have four of Porto’s last six. At odds-against, over 2.5 is a decent bet.
Manchester City -1.5 to beat Celtic
Wednesday 28th September, 19:45 GMT
Leicester v Porto – Over 2.5 Goals
Tuesday 27th September, 19:45 GMT