Big Week for British Teams in European Action Coming Up

This week sees Matchday 5 in both the Champions League and Europa League group stages and it is going to be an important week for many British sides, seeking to qualify for the next round of each competition at the earliest possible opportunity as we head into what is always a very hectic schedule throughout December and January for the top sides.

The right result for a team on Matchday 5 can not only see them qualify for the next round of their respective competition, but will also mean that managers can rest players on Matchday 6 if they so wish, a huge added incentive, especially for the top Premier League teams who have a hectic schedule of League, Carabao Cup, European and in Liverpool’s case, World Club Cup matches lined up.

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Let’s now preview the games ahead for the British teams this week starting with the games in the Champions League on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings.

Champions League – Tuesday

Manchester City v Shakhtar Donetsk (8.00pm)

City just need a single point from their game with Donetsk to ensure that they reach the next phase and in truth, I would expect them to get that – and more on Tuesday night. Having beaten Donetsk comfortably in the Ukraine on Matchday 1, I can see City scoring a fair few goals here against a team that they beat 6-0 in the same competition last year. Our Tip – I expect nothing but a comfortable win here for City, so back Bernardo Silva to make a scoring return to the team after sitting out the weekend’s match with Chelsea at 6/5 as an anytime goalscorer.

Tottenham v Olympiakos (8.00pm)

Despite a poor start in the group, a win for Tottenham at home to Olympiakos with new boss Jose Mourinho in charge will ensure that they progress into the next stage of the competition and I can see them doing precisely that. Any team always gets a boost when a new manager comes in and their win at West Ham at the weekend showed that to be the case here. I expect Tottenham to record a comfortable win against the Greek side here. Our Tip – Tottenham to win this one 3-0 as a correct score bet is a 7/1 shot with bet365.

Champions League – Wednesday

Valencia v Chelsea (5.55pm)

This is probably the pivotal game for Chelsea and Valencia in this group, with both these teams tied with Ajax on seven points, a win for either would see them automatically qualify for the next stage of the competition. On paper, this looks a tough test for Chelsea, especially seeing as they lost on the opening night to Valencia, but they have a good record at the Mestalla having won two and drawn one of the three games they have played there. Our Tip – This will be a very close game and it is very close to call. I reckon the draw at 13/5 is the best option.

Liverpool v Napoli (8.00pm)

Despite losing to Napoli on the opening day, three wins in a row since have seen Liverpool climb to the top of Group E and a win at home to Napoli would confirm their place in the next round as Group Winners. A draw or loss could open the door to a very tricky final game in Salzburg against Red Bull as well as Napoli potentially pipping them to the top spot in the group. As such, I expect a big performance and a key win for Liverpool, especially with the hectic fixture list they have coming up. Our Tip – Back in form Sadio Mane to score the first goal for Liverpool at 15/4.

Europa League – Thursday

FC Astana v Man Utd (3.50pm)

After an exciting 3-3 draw with Sheffield United last weekend, United face a lengthy trip to FC Astana in midweek, their longest ever trip for a UEFA competition match. Astana have been by far the poorest team in this group and were beaten 5-0 and 6-0 by AZ67 Alkmaar in their last two games. I can’t see United quite matching those scorelines, but they should record a comfortable victory here having already qualified for the next round. Our Tip – Back Manchester United to win to nil at 6/4.

Braga v Wolves (5.55pm)

After losing their opening game to these opponents at Molineux, Wolves have since won all their next three to trail Braga, who have not yet lost in this group, by just a point. A win for either team, or a point for Braga, would confirm them as qualified and if Slovan Bratislava don’t beat Besiktas, then Wolves would also qualify. This is a tricky game to call between two well matched sides, both of whom have been in good form of late. Our Tip – This is a close one so back the draw here at 2/1.

Feyenoord v Rangers (5.55pm)

Group G is poised nicely with Young Boys and Rangers on 7 points, but FC Porto and Feyenoord both have four and if the latter two teams can win their games this week, then all teams could be on seven points heading into the last game in the group. Rangers will want to avoid that against a Feyenoord side managed by their old boss Dick Advocaat but Rotterdam is a tough place to go to pick up a positive result. Our Tip – Back Feyenoord to take the win at 7/5.

Arsenal v Eintracht Frankfurt (8.00pm)

After a dismal performance at home to Southampton at the weekend, real questions are being asked about Unai Emery’s future at Arsenal, so nothing less than a win here would suffice for the Gunners, especially with a tricky trip to Standard Liege to finish off their group. Frankfurt are not the same team that reached the semi’s last year but Arsenal’s confidence is shot. A change in personnel for this game may actually help rather than hinder the Gunners and I feel Arsenal will do just enough to clinch their spot in the next round. Our Tip – I have no confidence that Arsenal can keep a clean sheet here so back Arsenal to win and both teams to score at 9/4.

Celtic v Rennes (8.00pm)

Celtic are in the enviable position of having already qualified from Group E, so they could rest players for this game, but I feel Neil Lennon will want his team to finish top of the group and a win here, combined with a Cluj loss to Lazio, could confirm Celtic as group winners. As such, I think the Celts will put out a strong team to take on a Rennes side that they drew with on the road. Rennes have underperformed in this group to be fair and in truth I can’t see anything but a Celtic win here. Our Tip – Back Celtic to win and both teams to score at 21/10 with bet365.

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