It’s the final match day of the Champions League group stages this week, and it’s a mixed bag for the Premier League representatives. Arsenal play away in Basel knowing they have already qualified and knowing they will finish 2nd behind PSG, unless the French side conspire to lose at home to Ludogorets. Leicester are assured of top spot in Group G and travel to a Porto side in need of victory, while Spurs face a home tie against CSKA Moscow for the right to enter the Europa League.
Group permutations will have a huge effect on this round of games, with some teams desperate for a result, while others can go through the motions safe in the knowledge they’ll line up in the last 16 next year. Basel could be a dangerous opponent for Arsenal, with the Swiss side needing a point to leapfrog Ludogorets and qualify for the Europa League (assuming the Bulgarians lose in Paris). With the Gunners unlikely to finish anywhere other than 2nd, Arsene Wenger could be forgiven for resting players.
Claudio Ranieri is equally at liberty to rest his stars as Leicester wrapped up qualification and top spot in the group with a game to spare. They will be joined in the knockout stage by either Porto or Copenhagen. With the Danes away at Club Brugges, Porto know they need to win to guarantee passage to the last 16.
For Spurs it’s much less glamorous as they face a shoot out with CSKA Moscow for 3rd place in group E and the right to drop into the Europa League. Nothing has gone right for Spurs in this Champions League campaign, with the decision to play home games at Wembley apparently back-firing. However, one key reason for poor performances has surely been the absence of Harry Kane, and it’s no surprise that Spurs have started scoring more goals with him back in the side.
Tottenham v CSKA Moscow
Our first bet is on the England hitman to get on the scoresheet in a Spurs victory at +125 with Ladbrokes.
Tottenham have been lacklustre so far in the Champions League, with just a point to show from four matches against Monaco and Bayer Leverkusen. They did win in Moscow though, and are fancied to put in a big performance as they bow out of the elite competition. The 5-0 thumping of Swansea over the weekend will have inspired confidence for this one, and fans may be left wondering ‘what if’ after the night’s result.
CSKA have managed two draws with Leverkusen and one with Monaco to amass their three points, but must beat Spurs if they are to leapfrog the English side and qualify for the Europa. That means at some point they will need to attack the game and Spurs can be deadly on the break. The Russians are winless in this year’s Champions League though, and winning away in Europe is not their forte. In fact, they’ve lost five of the last six domestic and European road games.
If Spurs win, there’s a very good chance that Kane gets on the scoresheet.
Basel v Arsenal
If Arsenal needed to win here they would be easy to back as they are a much better side, but with qualification already secured, Wenger is highly likely to rest players. Basel do need a result, but it’s a brave punter who backs them to win their first Champions League game of the season against a Gunners side that have lost just twice since March.
The Swiss Champions are comfortably top of their domestic league again, but the gulf in class here is too large to back them to get a result. Rather better is a both teams to score bet, because if Basel go chasing the game in search of the win or draw they need for Europa football, Arsenal can hit them with pace and guile on the break. A weakened Gunners team is also liable to concede, in a game that matters little in Wenger’s grand scheme of things.
Porto v Leicester
Finally, under 2.5 goals looks the way to go when Leicester visit Porto at +106 with 188Bet.
Porto need to win to ensure qualification behind the Foxes, unless Copenhagen fail to beat Club Brugges. If the Danes win in Belgium and Porto draw, it will be Copenhagen that qualify on the head-to-head record, so the Portuguese side cannot settle for anything less than three points.
Leicester are in trouble in the Premier League after another loss at the weekend to Sunderland. They sit a mere two points above the drop zone, and that is where priorities must lie now that they are through to the next stage of this competition. Ranieri has earned the right to utilise his squad for this one, and Leicester make little appeal from a betting perspective.
Only two of Leicester’s five Champions League games have gone over the 2.5 mark, while only one of Porto’s has exceeded the line. Furthermore, each of Porto’s last eight games have had less than three goals, and they’ve only conceded four times in the last ten on home soil.
The Portuguese side are criminally short odds to win on the basis that they need the result, and at slightly better than even odds under 2.5 is a much better bet, with a low-scoring victory the most likely result.
Kane to Score & Spurs to beat CSKA Moscow
Wednesday 7th December, 19:45 GMT
Basel v Arsenal – Both Teams to Score
Tuesday 6th December, 19:45 GMT
Porto v Leicester – Under 2.5 Goals
Wednesday 7th December, 19:45 GMT