Both teams to score in St Petersburg and Gelsenkirchen
A couple of both-teams-to-score plays are the pick of this week’s UEFA Champions League action, with the top bet being on both Zenit and Dortmund finding the back of the net in the first leg of their last-16 tie in St Petersburg.
Russian Premier League leader Zenit is the underdog for its UEFA Champions League home match against Dortmund and that is fair enough. The Russian Premier League is not in the same class as the German Bundesliga and it is not as if Zenit is running away with the title, either. Nineteen rounds in and Zenit is equal first with Lokomotiv Moskva, while Spartak Moskva is just more point back in third.
Another reason not to jump into Zenit even though Dortmund travels to St Petersburg off the back of its worst loss of the season – BVB went down 0-3 at Hamburg, a side that had lost each of its eight competitive games – is the Russian Premier League team’s unspectacular UEFA Champions League form. Zenit reached the UEFA Champions League last 16 by virtue of collecting only six points from a possible 18 versus Group G opponents Atletico Madrid, Austria Wien and Porto. Admittedly, Zenit did not lose at home – three draws – but it crashed 1-3 in Madrid and burned 1-4 in Vienna.
Dortmund, which was unbeaten in its last five competitive matches before its Hamburg horror show, topped the toughest UEFA Champions League section, finishing first in a group that saw it and Arsenal go through and Napoli and Marseille go out. Napoli deserved better than the UEFA Europa League.
One cannot recommend Dortmund at odds on or Zenit as the UEFA Champions League first leg outsider. One could make a value case for the draw at odds of 3.80 with Unibet, but both sides to score at odds of 1.65 is the most attractive play of all.
Both teams scored in four of Zenit’s six UEFA Champions League Group G games, including two of its three home matches, and the results from this tournament are the best barometer of the Russian Premier League team’s class that one has. Both sides scored in four of Dortmund’s six UEFA Champions League Group F games and, away from home against any opponent, BVB have a tendency to concede almost as freely as they score. Both teams have scored in eight of Dortmund’s last 11 matches, irrespective of competition.
Dortmund is the type of side that hunt for an away goal, with parking the bus not in the mindset of BVB boss Jurgen Klopp. The bottom line is that one would prefer to back both teams to score at odds of 1.65 than Dortmund at odds of 1.83 with Ladbrokes.
One is not overly keen on the UEFA Champions League clashes between Galatasaray and Chelsea in Istanbul and Olympiacos and Manchester United in Piraeus but one does like the idea of betting on both sides to score in the first leg between Schalke and Real Madrid in Gelsenkirchen, an option that is trading at odds of 1.67 with Bet365.
Real Madrid has scored in each of its last 18 competitive games or, if one wants to look at it another way, the Meringues have found the back of the net at least once in 37 of their 39 matches across all competitions this term. So one is going to put in Real for at least one goal versus a Schalke team that lost both of its UEFA Champions League Group E games to fellow qualifier Chelsea 0-3.
And statistics show that Real Madrid does not keep many UEFA Champions League clean sheets, particularly away from home. Real has not allowed its host to score in just one of last 10 UEFA Champions League road matches and that was last time out when the Meringues faced an outclassed Kobenhavn side.
Schalke has scored in seven of its last eight UEFA Champions League home games and its recent results in front of its passionate fans are sufficiently good to warrant betting on it stinging the palms of Real Madrid’s goalkeeper.