CHAMPIONS LEAGUE WEDNESDAY: The Ultra previews Wednesday’s Group games between AJAX v RANGERS, NAPOLI v LIVERPOOL and TOTTENHAM v MARSEILLE all with a recommended BETDAQ bet.
AJAX V RANGERS
5.45pm The Champions League continues on BETDAQ Betting Exchange on Wednesday and we have some cracking fixtures! It will be very interesting to see how Liverpool and Spurs get on later, but we start the evening with Ajax hosting Rangers. Apart from Barcelona who are at home trading 1.09, Ajax are the next shortest price in the market tonight at 1.47. We actually have a very competitive looking evening if you just look at the odds. Rangers had to battle really hard to come through qualifying and won 1-0 away from home in the second leg against PSV. That was impressive because Rangers aren’t usually a strong side away from home – usually in Europe most of their positive performances and result are at home. It’s a fantastic achievement for the club though to be in the Champions League – although it won’t feel like that if they are hammered again here after losing 4-0 to Celtic in the Old Firm Derby at the weekend. Ajax have started the Dutch Eredivisie as you would expect with five wins from five games to sit top of the table by two points. They may have lost their manager and star player, but they are still a top side. As I said with Celtic v Real Madrid, it is hard to judge the standard in Scotland – outside of the top two it is really low. I guess we’ll get an idea how strong Scotland is by the end of the Group stage!
If you look at Rangers journey to the Final of the Europa League last season, which to be fair to them was an incredible achievement, all their good results came at home as I said above. From their seven away games they only managed one win – that famous 4-2 win away to Dortmund. They played much weaker sides and couldn’t win – and they picked up their 1-1 draw away to Lyon in the Group stages when Lyon had nothing to play for. I think the conversation would be different here if Rangers had home advantage, but it’s very hard to see past Ajax here and I would have them shorter than 1.4. Their xG figures this season read; 1.40, 4.68, 1.79, 0.90 and 2.92. The two highlight fixtures came at home, and they will just create more than Rangers here to win the game. Rangers were poor at the weekend against Celtic – if they are close to that level here, and they generally don’t play well away, this should be an easy win for Ajax. A confident bet to start the evening.
The Ultra Says:
Four points win Ajax to beat Rangers at 1.47 with BETDAQ BETTING EXCHANGE.
You can view all markets here -> https://betdaq.biz/AjaRan
● Ajax have won all four of their previous competitive meetings with Rangers, winning both legs of the European Super Cup in January 1973, and both group stage meetings in the 1996-97 Champions League.
● Rangers’ four defeats from four meetings against Ajax is their worst 100% losing record in all European competition, while only against Besiktas (6/6) do Ajax have a better 100% winning record.
● Rangers have won their last two away games against Dutch sides in all competitions, including a 1-0 win at PSV to qualify for the UEFA Champions League this season. They had won just two of their previous nine away games in the Netherlands before this (D2 L5).
● Ajax won all six of their UEFA Champions League group stage matches last term, having been knocked out at this stage in the two campaigns prior to that. They netted 20 goals in their six group games last season, their most in a single group stage in the competition’s history.
● Rangers have won just 19% of their UEFA Champions League games (12/62), the second lowest win rate of any side to have played at least 50 games in the competition (Anderlecht, 17%). This is their first appearance in the competition since the 2010-11 campaign.
● Rangers have progressed past the group stage in just one of their 10 previous participations in the UEFA Champions League, doing so in the 2005-06 campaign. However, they’re unbeaten in their first group game in each of their last six involvements in the competition (W4 D2).
● During his spell as Feyenoord manager, Rangers boss Giovanni van Bronckhorst won just two of his 10 meetings with Ajax in all competitions (D2 L6), losing all four of his visits to the Johan Cruyff Arena as boss.
● Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst has lost five of his six games in charge in the UEFA Champions League (with Feyenoord in 2017-18), with the exception being a 2-1 win against Napoli.
● Ajax forward Steven Bergwijn has never scored in 28 appearances in major European competition (excluding qualifiers), spread across the UEFA Champions League (13 games), UEFA Europa League (13) and UEFA Europa Conference League (2).
● Excluding qualifiers, Rangers’ James Tavernier has scored seven goals in his last nine appearances in major European competition. He was Gers’ top scorer in their UEFA Europa League campaign last season, that saw them finish as runners-up.
NAPOLI V LIVERPOOL
8pm We start the 8pm games with a cracker as Napoli host Liverpool. Once again Liverpool dropped points at the weekend, and now it’s turned into a very poor start to the season for them. They are lucky because Manchester City have been held to two draws in their opening six games so they aren’t out of the title race yet even this early, but it’s been a bad start now. I wasn’t worried with the opening two draws because their xG figures were impressive; they were just unlucky not to score but they were outplayed by Manchester United and then conceded an xG of 1.53 against Everton at the weekend. I know they created more, but even conceding 1.53 against a club as average as Everton at the moment is worrying. They just aren’t firing at the start of the season. At the time of writing, Liverpool are trading 2.06 and I’m sure there will be some big opinions either side of the market on that price! Napoli have had an unbeaten start to the Serie A season with three wins and two draws from their five games – that leaves them in second because it’s been quite a dramatic start to Serie A this season. If you look through their xG figures, they are playing some brilliant football and were unlucky with their two draws to be fair; but you have to take your chances at the end of the day.
Napoli’s xG figures this season read; 2.89, 3.16, 1.60, 1.95 and 2.10. They have only conceded 1.16, 0.17, 0.39, 1.05 and 0.34. They haven’t had a very difficult fixture list, but they have had to play Fiorentina and Lazio – not top four sides but hanging around the fight for European spots. Lazio did finish fifth last season and they controlled that game at the weekend. I have to say I am in the laying camp on Liverpool at 2.06. Obviously they are going to come to life at some stage, but for me they are worth taking on at the moment. They clearly aren’t playing their best football, and they also struggle against Napoli. When the sides met in 2019 Napoli won 2-0 here and got a 1-1 draw in Anfield. They were in the same Group again in 2018 and Napoli also won 1-0 here but lost 1-0 away from home that time. I just can’t have Liverpool as short as 2.06 here and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them drift to 2.2 before kick-off. Napoli are in-form, they are a solid side with home advantage and Liverpool will have to be at their very best to beat them – so far we haven’t seen that from Liverpool this season aside from the Bournemouth game who are odds on for relegation this season.
The Ultra Says:
Three points lay (liability) Liverpool to beat Napoli at 2.06 with BETDAQ BETTING EXCHANGE.
You can view all markets here -> https://betdaq.biz/NapLiv
● Napoli and Liverpool will meet in the UEFA Champions League group stage for a third time in the last five seasons. The Italian club won their home game against the Reds in both 2018-19 (1-0) and 2019-20 (2-0).
● Napoli have won five of their six UEFA Champions League home games against clubs from England’s Premier League, losing the other 2-4 to Manchester City in November 2017. Both of their last two such matches have been wins over Liverpool (October 2018, September 2019).
● Liverpool have won each of their last three away games against Italian sides in European competition; they had only won three of their first 14 such visits beforehand (D3 L8).
● This will be Napoli’s seventh UEFA Champions League season, and first since 2019-20. The Azzurri have lost just one of their last 12 group stage games in the competitions (W5 D6), although that was to Liverpool in December 2018 (0-1).
● Liverpool won all six of their group stages games in last season’s UEFA Champions League. No English club have ever won seven consecutive group games in the competition’s history.
● Liverpool won all six of their away games in last season’s UEFA Champions League, scoring 2+ goals each time. In the competition’s history, only two sides have had longer away winning runs: Ajax (seven in March 1997) and FC Bayern München (seven in February 2014).
● Napoli have only lost their first match of a UEFA Champions League season in one of their six previous campaigns in the competition (W3 D2), a 1-2 defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk in 2017-18.
● Liverpool have only lost their opening match of a UEFA Champions League season in one of their last 12 appearances in the competition (W8 D3) – that defeat was, however, away at Napoli in 2019-20 (0-2).
● Napoli will be Luciano Spalletti’s fourth club managed in the UEFA Champions League, after Roma, Zenit St Petersburg and Internazionale. He will be the fifth manager to take charge of at least three different Italian sides in the competition, after Carlo Ancelotti (Parma, Juventus, Milan, Napoli), Alberto Zaccheroni (Milan, Lazio, Internazionale), Fabio Capello (Milan, Roma, Juventus) and Claudio Ranieri (Juventus, Roma, Internazionale).
● Mo Salah scored seven goals in last season’s UEFA Champions League group stage for Liverpool; only Ruud van Nistelrooy for Manchester United in 2004-05 (eight) has ever scored more in a single group for an English club in the competition. Salah also has 11 Champions League assists for the Reds, just one shy of the club’s all-time record (12 by Steven Gerrard and James Milner).
TOTTENHAM V MARSEILLE
8pm We finish Wednesday evening with another Premier League club in action as Spurs host Marseille. Unlike Liverpool, Spurs have had a bright start to the season but they have still dropped points. A draw away to Chelsea would have felt like a win, but they would have been a little disappointed with a 1-1 draw away to West Ham last week. They also conceded a marginally higher xG figure than they created too – that was their first real bump in the road and they responded well with a 2-1 win over Fulham at the weekend. You have to say that there is a gulf in class between the sides here, but Marseille have had a good start to the season in Ligue 1. After six games in France they are sitting on the same amount of points as PSG at the top of the table with five wins and a draw. There’s no reason why Marseille won’t come here with confidence, but if you look at the sides they have played in France so far it’s not surprising to see they have that many points. They did manage a 3-0 win away to Nice who finished in the fifth last season, but apart from that it was sides they should be beating. If anything the 1-1 draw away to Brent was disappointing and they would have started the game odds on too.
Spurs definitely look a force under Conte, they are playing some nice football too. Marseille finished second in France last season, but they did drop out of the top four in 2020/21 and to be honest the league was over very early last season with PSG so far ahead. There wasn’t much between the rest, and I just can’t see past a comfortable Spurs win here. The question for me is whether to take the 1.55 on Spurs or look to the handicap markets for some value. I do feel Spurs can win well here, and while I wouldn’t put anyone off including the 1.55 in any Acca, I’m going to opt for Spurs -1.5 goals at 2.48. That really stands out as a good value bet here in my opinion – Spurs have been creating a host of chances under Conte and although I take on board Marseille come here in good form, they have been playing their opening games of the season at a low level. Spurs can put on a show here and win impressively.
The Ultra Says:
Three points win Tottenham -1.5 goals to beat Marseille at 2.48 with BETDAQ BETTING EXCHANGE.
You can view all markets here -> https://betdaq.biz/TotMar
● This will be the first ever competitive meeting between Tottenham Hotspur and Marseille, while the Lilywhites have won four of their previous five home matches against French opposition in all European competition, although they lost their most recent such fixture in September 2016 (1-2 v Monaco, UEFA Champions League).
● Marseille have registered just one victory in their last 13 matches against English sides in the UEFA Champions League (D2 L10), failing to win each of their last eight such matches (D2 L6), since a 1-0 home win against Chelsea in December 2010.
● Marseille have lost 12 matches versus English teams in the UEFA Champions League, twice as many as they’ve lost against any other nation’s sides (Italy – 6).
● This will be Tottenham Hotspur’s sixth season in the UEFA Champions League, and first since 2019-20 when they were eliminated by RB Leipzig in the round of 16. The Lilywhites have never previously faced any of their prospective 2022-23 group stage opponents in the UEFA Champions League before (Eintracht Frankfurt, Sporting CP and Marseille).
● Tottenham have won 44% of their matches in the UEFA Champions League (20/45), the lowest ratio of any English side with 20+ games played in the competition. In fact, 16 of those 20 wins have been recorded by a non-English manager in charge of the Lilywhites (Mauricio Pochettino x15, José Mourinho x1).
● This will be Marseille’s first appearance in the UEFA Champions League since the 2020-21 season. Marseille have lost 14 of their last 15 matches in the competition (W1 – vs Olympiakos in December 2020), failing to score nine times during this run.
● Tottenham Hotspur have won just one of their five previous matchday one group stage games (D2 L2), winning 3-1 against Borussia Dortmund in 2017-18. Indeed, since the introduction of the current group stage format in 2003-04, Marseille have lost six of their eight matchday one group stage games (W2), including losing to Arsenal in 2013-14 (1-2 at home).
● Tottenham Hotspur will be the fourth side that Antonio Conte has taken charge of in the UEFA Champions League after Juventus, Chelsea and Inter Milan. The Italian will become the fourth manager to take charge of more than one English club in the competition (Chelsea and Tottenham), after Rafael Benítez (Liverpool and Chelsea), Claudio Ranieri (Chelsea and Leicester), and José Mourinho (Chelsea, Man Utd and Tottenham).
● Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane has been directly involved in 23 goals in his 24 appearances in the UEFA Champions League (20 goals, 3 assists). Of all players to score 20+ goals in the UEFA Champions League, only Erling Haaland (64), Mario Gomez (102) and Lionel Messi (103.7) have a better minutes-per-goal ratio than Kane (104.4).
● Marseille forward Alexis Sánchez has scored three goals against Tottenham Hotspur in all competitions (Arsenal x2, Man Utd x1), with the Chilean netting all three goals in games played in London (White Hart Lane, Emirates, Wembley).