Champions League Tips: Defense Is The Best Form Of Attack

After a 7/2 winner on Tuesday LB looks at some overpriced defenders in Wednesday's Champions League fixtures.

Our Champions League Shots-On-Target bets have picked up where they left off last season. Hans Vanaken was 7/2 for 2+ SOT last night and it was in before half time. We also said Brugge would win (at 5/1) and they now have one foot in the Europa League. Let’s hope we can build on those winners on Wednesday night.

Man United v Villarreal   Wed 30 Sept 20:00 BST

A repeat of last season’s Europa League final sees the Yellow Submarine travel to Old Trafford to take on a stuttering Manchester United. I’ve long been a critic of Ole Gunnar Solskjær, and United’s recent struggles (3 losses in 4) have strengthened my belief that they will win little of note this season despite the second coming of CR7. That being said, the gulf in class between these sides is enormous and United’s tendency to bottle important games should not be an issue this early in the campaign.

I expect a dominant performance from the home side and Villarreal will have to rely on set pieces and counter attacks. United remain very open under Solskjaer, however, and quite often find themselves with opposition midfielders bearing down on goal. Man United have allowed 48 shots on their goal over their last four games and 32 of those have come from opposition midfielders or defenders. I do not think that is a coincidence. United have the quality to hog the ball but lack the nous to control games. They tend to dominate possession and often get exposed on the counter. With that in mind, two players for the Spanish side jump out to me as over priced in the shots-on-target market.

Arnaut Danjuma (Groeneveld) came on against Atalanta in Villarreal’s first Champions League game and scored what looked like the winner before the Italian’s late equaliser. He has since started all three La Liga games for Unai Emery. He fired off eleven shots in those games, getting two on target in each of his two most recent outings. We know he can score, he is in good shooting form (if such a thing exists!) and at 3/1 for 2+ SOT he looks a great bet.

Defense Is The Best Form Of Attack

The other player I fancy to get a shot on target, or more accurately a header, is Pau Torres. The 6’3’’ centre-back loves to get up for a corner. He has managed a shot in three of his last four games (including away at Real Madrid last week). Villarreal will be under the cosh most of the game and I fancy Torres to really go for it from any free kicks or corners. At 13/2 to hit the target once he looks a great bet.

In the win market there is a small part of me that thinks Villarreal can catch United here. The home side will be under a lot of pressure to go out and “Attack Attack Attack” and that could play right into Emery’s hands. That being said, I’ll stick to the shots market here because the gulf in class is significant.

Juventus v Chelsea   Wed 30 Sept 20:00 BST

Anyone who followed our Euro 2020 coverage will not be surprised that I’m taking another hearty centre-back in this game. I was tipping Bonucci and Chiellini to hit the target well before the global love-in for the two veterans kicked off after the Azzurri won the Euros (another thing we tipped) and this is the sort of game they will relish.

I went against Juventus last time and am far from convinced by them so far this season. It is still quite surprising to see them such outsiders against Chelsea here. The Old Lady have won 9 of their last 11 home UCL games at a combined score of 20-6. Despite a poor start to the season Juventus are beginning to look more settled. They have not lost in four games, winning three (W3 D1 L0). I think under the lights on a big night like this, 11/4 for a home win is overpriced and is definitely worth backing.

Moreover, the Chelsea bias in the odds (deserved or not) is heavily reflected in the shots market too. No fewer than eleven Chelsea players are evens or odds-on to hit the target on Wednesday night. That makes me think many of the home side are overpriced. Both of the veteran centre-backs are 12/5 for a single SOT and I’m going with Bonucci this time. He managed four shots in his last three games and I can see him stepping up to the plate here.

SRD Selections:

Arnaut Danjuma (Groeneveld) 2+ SOT @ 3/1

Pau Torres 1+ SOT @ 13/2

Leonardo Bonucci 1+ SOT @ 12/5

Defender Double Bonucci and Torres 1+ SOT Each @ 24.5/1

Personal Bets:

I’m a sucker for underdogs and after the Club Brugge and Sheriff herocis on Tuesday I’ll take a small punt on the Villarreal, Juventus, Benfica treble at nearly 80/1. Chelsea can obliterate open teams but as we saw last week they can look quite limp against a stern defence. United could easily sleep walk into a Unai Emery counterattacking trap. I also like Benefica to upset Barcelona at 2/1. The Portugese are unbeaten this season and have only lost two home Champions League games since 2017 (against Bayern Munich and Leipzing).

Looking through the odds, there seems to be plenty of value for shots on target in the other games too. Dynamo midfielders, any midfielders in the Salzburg v Lille game and Lucas Ocampos for Sevilla look well priced. I will just wait for team news before making a bet. Make sure to keep an eye on out on Twitter tomorrow evening where we will share our up-to-date bets for these games.