Spanish giants Los Blancos , will play host to German powerhouse Borussia Dortmund at the Santiago Bernabeu in their final Uefa Champions League Group H game on Wednesday night.
Understandably, after winning back to back Champions League titles, Real Madrid was made huge favourites to top their group when they were drawn, with many expecting a close battle between Tottenham and Borussia Dortmund for the runners-up spot. However, things have panned out a little differently to expectations.
In fact, Real Madrid has already relinquished any chance of taking the win in the group, sitting three points behind the fantastic Spurs and with a worse head to head record than their opponents. They have, however, secured qualification to the knockout rounds, thanks to the dismal showing put on by Borussia Dortmund.
At home, their results to improve, where they have won seven, drawn four, and lost one of their 12 competitive games. They have scored at least two goals in all but three of these matches too, and Borussia Dortmund knows perfectly well just how devastating their star-studded attack can be.
Dortmund’s season is going dreadfully, to be honest. They are used to putting up a challenge for Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga, but currently, find themselves 6th in the table and with just one win from their last eight outings in all competitions.
They managed to throw away a ridiculous four-goal lead at home to Schalke at the end of November, highlighting exactly where their problems lie. Borussia Dortmund has conceded 19 goals in their last eight games, scoring in every one as well. This has resulted in four of them have at least four goals, so backing Over 3.5 Goals here looks a good choice.
Real Madrid has won three, drawn two, and lost two of their last seven meetings with Borussia Dortmund.
Madrid has seen four or more goals in 50% of their last eight competitive games, with Borussia Dortmund also having that same record.
Prediction: Over 2.5
Liverpool vs Spartak Moscow
It’s fair to say that Liverpool didn’t get off to the greatest start in the Champions League group stages as they failed to beat Sevilla at home, but despite a few hiccups along the way they find themselves top of the group coming into the final round of group games.
We can expect to see a full strength side from Jurgen Klopp’s men as well because with Sevilla playing against Maribor he knows that his team will likely need a win in order to hold on to the top spot.
Liverpool has bounced back though, beating Stoke 3-0 and thrashing Brighton 5-1, both away from home. This free-scoring way of playing is hugely entertaining, and Spartak Moscow will be very worried about their chances of keeping the hosts at bay.
Spartak Moscow can’t just sit back and defend either. If they want to stand any chance of making it through to the knockout stages, they need to come out and attack Liverpool and considering they haven’t managed to keep a single clean sheet in the Champions League this season it doesn’t bode well for their defence.
Liverpool has won two and drawn one of their three previous meetings with Spartak Moscow.
The Reds has scored at least three goals in 88% of their last eight competitive fixtures, and in 60% of their Champions League group games so far.
Prediction: Liverpool Wins & Over 1.5
Shakhtar Donetsk vs Manchester City
Shakhtar Donetsk probably wasn’t expecting to be in this position coming into the final round of Champions League group games. When they were drawn in a group including Manchester City and Napoli, as well as Feyenoord, most people had them down as distant 3rd place finishers in the group, but it hasn’t turned out to be that case.
In fact, coming into Wednesday’s game they sit 2nd in the group, some six points adrift of the perfect record of Manchester City but holding a three-point lead over Napoli. A point would secure them qualification, but they do lag behind Napoli in the head to head records, so defeat for Shakhtar and a win for Napoli would resign Shakhtar Donetsk to the Europa League.
While, Manchester City’s season has hit a bit of a turning point, and whilst their performances are dropping off the boil a bit, they are showing the winning mentality that is needed to lift trophies. They have fallen behind in two of their last three games and been level in the final ten minutes in each of their last three, but each time they have pulled a winner out of the hat to keep them marching towards the Premier League title.
The Citizens have now won eight games on the bounce in all competitions and remain unbeaten this season. All five of their Champions League group games have ended in victory, including hauling four goals away to both Feyenoord and Napoli.
Manchester City’s only previous meeting with Shakhtar Donetsk was their 2-0 win earlier this season.
City has won 91% of their competitive games this season, including 100% of their Champions League outings and 100% of their away games.
Tottenham vs APOEL
There were sharp intakes of breath all around North London when this Champions League group was drawn earlier in the season. Being alongside European heavyweights such as Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund meant that Tottenham looked to be in for a rough ride, but they’ve absolutely excelled in their five group games.
They started with an entertaining 3-1 win over Dortmund at Wembley, a result which many thought could prove crucial in their inevitable battle for second place. That battle turned out to be anything but inevitable though, as they took four points from two games against back to back Champions League winners Real Madrid to put them on course for the top spot. That top spot standing is sealed now, and they can look forward to the knockout stages in 2018.
APOEL aren’t going to be lying down though. They have managed to take two points off Borussia Dortmund and only lag behind the German giants on goal difference. Considering they were largely deemed as the group whipping boys, APOEL has done amazingly well to still have a chance of progressing to the Europa League.
Undoubtedly, APOEL is still huge underdogs for this game, and rightly so. Tottenham won’t be taking this game lightly as they look to restore confidence in the squad, and the Cypriots were well beaten in both of their matches against Real Madrid and their hosting of Spurs in September.
September’s 3-0 win for Tottenham was their first ever meeting with APOEL.
Tottenham have won 80% of their Champions League group games, and 100% of their last six outings have resulted in fewer than four goals. 80% of APOEL’s Champions League games have seen fewer than four goals.
Prediction: Spurs Wins & Over 1.5
FC Porto vs AS Monaco
This has probably been one of the most surprising groups in this Champions League campaign, but it was always going to be a close call. Monaco were touted as group favourites following their stunning Champions League display last season, but their summer departures have left them struggling and the likes of Besiktas and Porto have really upped their game.
Obviously, this gives Porto all the incentive to go out and win here. They lead RB Leipzig on a head to head record, with the German club set to face a potentially weakened Besiktas side at home on Wednesday evening. This is going right down to the wire, and Porto will be keen to not let it slip. All they need is a win to guarantee passage through to the knockouts, but anything else leaves them open to drop down.
Monaco has just had a torrid time in Europe this season, and with five points between them and Leipzig, they can’t even attempt to qualify for the Europa League knockouts. They have shipped 11 goals in their five group games, including their dreadful 4-1 thrashing at home to RB Leipzig in their last continental outing.
Away from home, they have drawn with Besiktas and Leipzig, but with their opponents having so much incentive to get the win on Wednesday a home win certainly isn’t out of the question.
Porto has won all three of their previous meetings with Monaco.
The home side has seen both teams score in 80% of their Champions League games this season, whilst Monaco have in 80% of theirs.
Feyenoord vs Napoli
Feyenoord isn’t exactly having the best of seasons, either domestically or continentally. They won the Eredivisie after a long spell without the trophy last season, but coming into December they find themselves well on the back foot in all competitions.
They have failed to pick up a single point in this admittedly tough Champions League group, and in the league, they find themselves 5th in the table with only 25 points from their 14 games. They have picked things up recently, with their 1-0 win over Vitesse on Saturday giving them their first back to back wins since September.
Napoli was touted as second favourites for this group, but they’ve struggled at times and find their chances of qualification hanging in the balance. They still have a great chance of taking second in the group, as 2nd placed Shakhtar are three points ahead but have a worse head to head record and face the dominant Manchester City on Wednesday. A win for Napoli should be enough, but nothing else will do and they still need to hope Manchester City beat the Ukrainians.
The weekend saw Napoli lose 1-0 at home to Juventus, bringing their three-match winning streak to an end. They will be confident about their chances against Feyenoord though, and judging by the Dutch sides’ previous performances it could be a comprehensive win for the Italians.
Napoli won their only previous meetings with Feyenoord 3-1 earlier this season.
Napoli has also seen three or more goals in 100% of their Champions League games this season, whilst Feyenoord have in 80% of their group games and have lost 100% of them.
Prediction: Over 2.5
Maribor vs Sevilla
Maribor’s Champions League campaign comes to an expected end on Wednesday as they face Sevilla in their final group game, with them sitting rock bottom of the group with an unbridgeable four-point gap between them and Spartak Moscow in 3rd. This rules out any chance of qualifying for the Europa League knockouts, and whilst that is a disappointment, they will feel some sense of relief.
The continental campaign looks to have had a significant detrimental impact on the rest of their form, and the Slovenian side has won just three of their last eight matches in all competitions. They are still top of their league, but they only have a three-point lead and have played a game more than their chasers.
Sevilla actually has something to play for as well. Things are very tight in the race for qualification, and all three of the other teams besides Maribor could feasibly finish top of the group. Liverpool currently holds the top spot, but they are only one point ahead of Sevilla and face a more difficult clash with a Spartak Moscow side who will be going all out for the win on Wednesday.
The weekend saw Sevilla comfortably beat Deportivo to make it four wins from their last five games. Their one failure to win during this period was in the Champions League when they spectacularly came from 3-0 down at halftime to draw 3-3 against Liverpool.
Sevilla has won two and drawn one of their three previous meetings with Maribor, with both teams scoring in two of them.
The LaLiga outfit has kept a clean sheet in just 14% of their last seven away games, conceding an average of 2.28 goals per game in this period.
Prediction: Sevilla Wins