Champions League Betting: Man City already on the brink of history

Brendan Rodgers hopes to learn from his side's heavy Barcelona defeat
Brendan Rodgers hopes to learn from his side's heavy Barcelona defeat
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Matchday Two of the Champions League begins midweek with Arsenal, Man City, Tottenham and newcomers Leicester representing England. James Horncastle give his thoughts on the mouthwatering competition...

"The Citizens touch down in Glasgow in the midst of a 10-game winning streak. Claim victory against Celtic on Tuesday and they will match the best start to a season ever recorded by an English team, emulating Bill Nicholson's Spurs in 1960."

Dominant City head north to face Celtic

Alaves did Brendan Rodgers a favour in at least showing that Barcelona are mortal and can be beaten (when fielding a heavily rotated, 'weakened' side). No one, however, has yet come up with a blueprint for stopping, let alone defeating, Manchester City. The Citizens touch down in Glasgow in the midst of a 10-game winning streak. Claim victory against Celtic on Tuesday and they will match the best start to a season ever recorded by an English team, emulating Bill Nicholson's Spurs in 1960.

Of course Alaves didn't help Rodgers in the end. Although he copied their system, changing to a back five, Barça recorded their biggest winning margin ever in a Champions League game, triumphing 7-0. Celtic went into that game on the back of a euphoric 5-1 win in the Old Firm and take on City just days after smashing Kilmarnock 6-1. Rodgers, however, is under no illusion about the "huge jump" from domestic to European football. The hope is that Celtic Park can inspire the team to overreach themselves and that Pep Guardiola's surprisingly average record in away games in Europe continues.

One imagines, however, that it will be another long 90 minutes for Celtic. Rodgers can once again expect to be haunted by one of his former players. Luis Suarez scored a brace a fortnight ago, Raheem Sterling is in top form and will ask questions of Celtic's defenders on Tuesday. Back him to find the back of the net @ 2.486/4.

Spurs look good value to win in Moscow

Arguably the most delicate game involving a British side this week is Spurs' visit to CSKA Moscow. Mauricio Pochettino was at pains to make clear Wembley was not a factor in their defeat to Monaco. Leonardo Jardim, however, disagreed. "Tactically, the fact that Wembley is a larger pitch than White Hart Lane might have affected Tottenham negatively," he said, "because they like to press. On a bigger pitch, it is harder to close players down."

If there really is no advantage to be found at 'home', Spurs will have to do even better than usual on the road. The CSKA trip comes mercifully early, before the Moscow winter takes hold, and the playing surface at the new Arena CSKA is better than the hard, unforgiving plastic of the Khimki. CSKA represent a different threat than they did in the past. Gone are the pacey Ahmed Musa and Seydou Doumbia. In their place is the giant, 6'6" Lacine Traore. Meanwhile, at the back, you probably have to go back to Tsarist times to find a CSKA team without Igor Akinfeev, Sergei Ignashevich and Vasili Berezutski in the starting XI. Take Spurs to win @ 2.47/5.

Real Madrid could struggle against Borussia Dortmund

Probably the pick of this round of games in the Champions League is the holders' return to Signal Iduna Park. It is never dull when Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund meet and Tuesday's encounter promises to be no different. Real no longer have Robert Lewandowski to worry about. He fired four against them in 2013 but that doesn't mean their defenders can rest easy. Dortmund have hit 20 goals in their last four games alone and six different players scored in their 6-0 pummelling of Legia Warsaw. They're fast, furious and come at you from all angles.

Real were disappointing against Sporting a fortnight ago. Cristiano Ronaldo came to the rescue with a wonderful free-kick and late substitute Alvaro Morata once again came alive under the Champions League lights to nick a winner. Sporting didn't deserve to leave the Bernabeu without a point and the back-to-back draws that have followed in La Liga give the impression Real aren't in the best of form. Back Dortmund @ 2.6213/8.

Leicester look forward to break from Premier League struggles

The final game I'd like to turn my attention to and there are so many tantalising match-ups this week, from Atletico-Bayern and Gladbach-Barça to Napoli-Benfica, is Leicester-Porto. The English champions are 12th in the Premier League and have already suffered as many defeats (three) as they did in all of last season. 4-0 down at half-time at Old Trafford on Saturday, Claudio Ranieri withdrew Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez to keep them fresh for Porto's visit to the King Power on Tuesday night.

While concern is legitimate, we should see the best of Leicester in the Champions League. After doing the impossible in the Premier League last season and being told they can't possibly do better, it's only human that they are experiencing difficulty finding the same motivation. Europe, however, is different. Here, in this new context, Leicester are unfulfilled and can discover new stimuli. Brilliant in Brugge a fortnight ago, you might say back to their old selves even, they should have enough about them to beat Porto providing of course their concentration levels are restored to previous levels.

Without a league title in three years, their longest lean spell since the late 70s, this isn't a vintage Porto side and if it wasn't for Roma shooting themselves in the foot in the play-offs, they perhaps wouldn't be here. Porto have never won in England. Their most famous moment in these parts was Costinha's last minute equaliser and away goal at Old Trafford, which sent an ecstatic Jose Mourinho running down the touchline in 2004. Take Leicester to win @ 2.35/4.

Recommended Bets

Back Raheem Sterling To Score @ 2.486/4
Back Tottenham to Win @ 2.47/5
Back Dortmund to Win @ 2.6213/8
Back Leicester to Win @ 2.35/4

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