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Champions League Matchday 5: Preview and Tips

With just two matches remaining in the UEFA Champions League group stages, a lot of the positions are already wrapped up and berths for the knockout spots secured. 

But Matchday 5 also sees plenty still in the balance in regards to qualification and subsequently, there are some enormous matches to come on Tuesday and Wednesday, as teams seek to keep their hopes of winning the game’s biggest prize alive.

And it says a lot about the calibre of matches on offer when games like Borussia Dortmund vs. Tottenham Hotspur and Atletico Madrid vs. Roma aren’t selected as one of the two featured contests this week.

Here are the fixtures in full for this week’s Champions League and a closer look at how a couple of key games are likely to play out.

Tuesday, November 21

Group E: Sevilla vs. Liverpool, Spartak Moscow vs. Maribor

Group F: Manchester City vs. Feyenoord, Napoli vs. Shakhtar Donetsk

Group G: Besiktas vs. Porto, Monaco vs. RB Leipzig

Group H: APOEL vs. Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund vs. Tottenham Hotspur

 

Wednesday, November 22

Group A: Basel vs. Manchester United, CSKA Moscow vs. Benfica

Group B: Anderlecht vs. Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain vs. Celtic

Group C: Qarabag vs. Chelsea, Atletico Madrid vs. Roma

Group D: Juventus vs. Barcelona, Sporting CP vs. Olympiakos

Sevilla vs. Liverpool

Following on from a couple of routine victories against Maribor, Liverpool have put themselves in a brilliant position to qualify as winners of Group E, although a defeat to Sevilla would potentially make matters interesting.

As things stand, the Reds lead the La Liga side by one point, with Spartak Moscow three points back.

Liverpool should be confident heading to Andalusia, though. The Reds were comfortably the dominant side when these two teams met at Anfield, with Sevilla snatching a couple of goals against the run of play in a 2-2 draw.

Jurgen Klopp’s men appear to have come on since then too. Key players have returned to full fitness, defensively the team has stiffened up and in the final third Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah are all working wonderfully.

The latter of that quartet in particular. The Egyptian has taken to life in Liverpool incredibly, netting 14 times for the Reds already, with a quartet of those goals coming in the Champions League.

It’s tough to envisage Sevilla coping with his blistering speed and smart movement all that well, as they’ve been extremely inconsistent under Eduardo Berizzo so far this term. There’s pressure on them here too, with Moscow favourites against Maribor and just two points behind the La Liga side.

Sevilla will feel capable of testing a Liverpool defence that’s not been called into action too frequently in recent weeks, though. Wissam Ben Yedder was a major threat in the return fixture, while Luis Muriel seems to be slowly finding his feet after a summer move from Sampdoria.

Still, at this moment Liverpool appear to be a class apart and with Salah inspiring them they’ll secure top spot with a swagger.

Prediction: Sevilla 1-2 Liverpool

Tips

Liverpool to win 2-1 (10.50 BetVictor)

Liverpool to win and both teams to score (4.10 188Bet)

Liverpool to win and Salah to score (4.33 SkyBet)

Juventus vs. Barcelona

When Juventus lost to Barcelona earlier in the competition they appeared to still have plenty of time to recover in a group that contains Sporting CP and Olympiakos too. But this clash is a vital one for the Bianconeri and the pressure is piled on the side ahead of the arrival of the La Liga leaders.

Juventus suffered a surprise 3-2 defeat in Serie A on Sunday to Sampdoria, meaning they lost further ground to Napoli in the race for the Scudetto and were usurped by Inter Milan. 

They could do with a win to restore some confidence in addition to ensuring their place in the knockout stages is secure. Juve have amassed just seven point from their four games, with Sporting CP three back and at home to winless Olympiakos next.

While the worst that could happen for Juve here is that they’d be level with Sporting on Wednesday night, the prospect of going to the last game in Greece knowing their qualification is on a knife edge would be far from ideal. Especially with Sporting up against an already-top Barca.

For the Blaugrana this is an intriguing one, as they’ve already booked their place in the last 16. And given manager Ernesto Valverde has not rotated his team too frequently this season, he may view this match as a chance to rest some key personnel ahead of the crunch clash with Valencia on Sunday evening.

Barcelona have been a tough nut to crack throughout this term. Sure the majesty of Lionel Messi and vibrancy of Luis Suarez make them a major threat in the final third, but Valverde has triggered improvements in players like Samuel Umtiti and Marc-Andre ter Stegen too, making them defensively capable.

It means Juventus will be taking on a much improved version of Barca than the one they brushed aside in the Champions League quarter-finals earlier in the year.

Expect the Bianconeri to be aggressive and attacking in their play, giving their opponents lots to consider from a defensive points of view. And while it may not be enough for them to secure qualification on Wednesday, a battling draw for Juve will be a step in the right direction.

Prediction: Juventus 1-1 Barcelona

Tips

1-1 Draw (7.00 William Hill)

Under 2.5 goals (1.96 188Bet)

Juventus draw no bet (2.05 William Hill)

About Justin Hilbert

Justin Hilbert

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