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Fine Margins: UCL MD3

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Chelsea v Milan (Tuesday 4 October, 1500 ET)

We’re into the third round of Champions League matches now, and the focus needs to be on teams which really NEED to win. So teams that have six points out of six and maybe have a tough away fixture may be more inclined to settle for a draw than normal.

But Chelsea, given their poor start in the group, need to start picking up points and this home clash with Milan is the place they need to start. Their off-field turmoil has been well-documented, with Graham Potter in charge arriving to replace the departed Thomas Tuchel.

Potter has had some time to work with his players and get across his philosophies. The sample size is small but there were encouraging signs against a good Crystal Palace side on Saturday and their position in this group is a precarious one, having collected just one point from their two matches so far.

Not escaping this group would be an unquestionable disaster for Chelsea and Potter and his full focus will be on collecting the three points here, albeit against the Italian champions. Milan are an excellent side and capable of causing Chelsea problems, but Chelsea’s need is greater and the last thing they will want is to be chasing points in trips to Germany to face RB Leipzig and also in the San Siro in the reverse fixture.

They outplayed RB Leipzig at home in their last outing, winning the xG battle 1.5-0.2, and it was still early in Potter’s reign. His players know more about him, and vice versa - we expect a talented Chelsea squad to finally kick into gear here, and at a reasonable price, too.

Pick: Chelsea to win @ -125, FoxBet


Frankfurt v Tottenham, Tuesday 4 October, 1500 ET

Tottenham’s need isn’t necessarily as big as Chelsea’s, but make no mistake; this is, all of a sudden, a pretty significant matchup for Antonio Conte. Pundits and fans were less than impressed with their efforts in the North London derby, as we correctly tipped up that Arsenal would get it done with goals to spare.

Tottenham have only won away from home at Nottingham Forest this season - that’s one road win in five, including their defeat to Sporting on matchday two. Conte isn’t under pressure, as there is plenty of goodwill in the bank for returning the club to the Champions League and for what he is building, but a week with a derby defeat and another loss which would put them in an extremely precarious position in the group would not be something he will want to contemplate.

Frankfurt meanwhile were also beaten - easily - by Sporting in the opening match but were able to win in Marseille last time out. This is a tight group, but, generally, these teams can be relied upon to produce goals. Spurs have scored in 4 of 5 (80%) of away matches, while Frankfurt have scored in 4 of 6 (67%) at home. The stakes and the fact that both teams will be on the front foot means we’ll want to back goals once again.

And despite Tottenham’s poor form on the road, we can’t see them losing this one. Frankfurt have recorded good wins against Stuttgart and Union Berlin at home in the last two matches but the xG suggests they might have been a little fortunate to do so; they scored five times from an xG of 1.8, and conceded once on an xGA of 2.1.

So we like Tottenham to right the wrongs of their performance at the Emirates, but take them on the double chance market to provide a little additional insurance.

Pick: Tottenham to win or draw double chance, both teams to score @ +110 (Bet 365)


There’s a series of short-priced home favorites in this round of fixtures and they are generally involving teams who regularly score bundles of goals. So as our long shot bet we’ll see if we can predict how many goals they will actually score - we’re going for over two team goals for all those mentioned.

Liverpool are taking on a Rangers side that have been soundly beaten in their two matches so far, versus Napoli (3-0) and Ajax (4-0). There’s no reason to think it won’t be more of the same.

Bayern Munich are one of the shortest odds in Champions League history to see off Viktoria Plzen, who conceded five at Barcelona on matchday one. Bayern comfortably defeated Leverkusen 4-0 last Friday, an infinitely better team, to shake off their recent funk. They should rack up the goals again.

Real Madrid may have stumbled on Sunday night against a stubborn Osasuna, but regularly score plenty at home and Shakhtar will likely come to play as they did in Leipzig on matchday one. This could open up the contest and take Madrid to get among the goals.

And finally, Manchester City. It may depend on how Pep Guardiola shuffles his team but even the second string will be good enough to defeat Copenhagen. City have scored three + goals in four of their five home matches.

Go for all of these and you’ve got a nice fourfold to enjoy matches where the win odds are so short, there’s little angle to take.

Pick: Liverpool, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Manchester City to score over two goals @ +375 (Bet 365)