Ajax v Atalanta
Wednesday December 9, 17:55
Atalanta go into this game knowing that avoiding defeat will see them progress to the Last 16 for a second year running. Not bad going for a side who had never been in the competition prior to last season.
Ajax know they have to win to go through; anything other than that and they're over in the Europa League.
So with that in mind and the free-scoring Atalanta in action, we can expect a load of goals, right?
Maybe not. Atalanta won't be in any big rush to score because they don't need to and Ajax won't be going all-out attack from the start because they only need a one-goal win, not more than that. Their winning goal could come in the 88th minute for all they care.
I don't think Ajax's Eredivisie matches are a particularly good indication of how many goals we might get here because it's one of the highest-scoring leagues in the world and a side like Ajax can go out and beat anyone 5-0.
But it's worth noting that Atalanta's games have recently gone against the grain and have had far less goals of late. It's now five in a row that have gone 'unders' across three Serie A and two Champions League games. A very different story to the start of the season where their first five games ended 2-4, 1-4, 5-2, 4-1 and 0-4.
Of course, an early goal could change the dynamic of the game but whoever scores it will surely be wanting to defend what they have. If you wanted a proper punt the 7/4 on under 2.5 goals looks decent. But as part of a treble, I'll keep the safety blanket of a third goal onboard and go with under 3.5 goals at 7/10.
Manchester City v Marseille
Wednesday December 9, 20:00
Marseille are quite possibly the worst side I've seen in this year's competition. Ok, I haven't admittedly watched every last side but I saw most of them in action and Marseille are just too bad.
Of course, it's frustrating to play against teams with ten times your budget but that's the case for plenty of other teams in this competition and at least the competition's other 'minnows' try to score.
In the two or three games I've watched them play, it's like scoring a goal is an afterthought for Marseille. Ok, they beat Olympiakos 2-1 last time out but those were the first goals they scored in the whole competition after losing 1-0, 3-0, 3-0 and 2-0 before that.
I'm not quite sure what Andre Villas-Boas is thinking when he plays for 0-0 every game but I know it hasn't worked so far.
So I'm extremely surprised that you can get 11/8 on City winning to nil. It's something they've managed in each of their last four games- two in the league and two in the CL- and for my money they should be odds-on to win without conceding. I think it almost doesn't matter who actually plays on the night for City because they'll be looking to make a impression.
In different circumstances, a dead rubber could see an open game with goals at both ends but in the case of Marseille, I'm not so sure.
Midtjylland v Liverpool
Wednesday December 9, 20:00
I'm really surprised that Liverpool are odds-against to beat Midtjylland.
Fine, Jurgen Klopp could easily play a second-string side with players like Divock Origi, Takumi Minamino, Naby Keita and so on but these are still pretty good players surrounded by other good players in a winning team. The system will be the same, the strategy will be the same, just the players might change.
Liverpool could also play a load of youngsters but again, from what I've seen of the times that's happened, they're not fazed by the occasion. They slot into their roles and play full of energy and discipline, just like everyone else. Then again, Jurgen Klopp may decide to play a pretty strong side after all.
To be fair to Midtjylland, they've been quite competitive for a side not used to Champions League football. There was a good 1-1 draw at Atalanta and they narrowly lost 2-1 at home to Ajax., for example. But the truth is they have just that one point from five games and were thrashed 4-0 at home by Atalanta. I'm not sure a side with that record deserves to be just 12/5 for a win and 29/10 to take a point but it's the price on the away win that sticks out like a sore thumb.