IT’S the night many punters have been waiting for – the start of the Champions League groups.
There are some cracking ties tonight with Man City v Juventus possibly the pick of the bunch.
Other top clubs in action include Man United, PSG, Sevilla and Benfica so let’s hope for thrills from the big boys.
Let’s start with Man United who travel to PSV with renewed confidence after beating Liverpool 3-1 at the weekend.
Louis van Gaal will be wanting to put one over his countrymen and Memphis Depay will be out to score against the side he couldn’t stop netting for last season.
Depay isn’t yet off the mark in the Premier League but hit a double in the home qualifier against Bruges.
He is 11-4 at 888sport to score tonight and 7-1 with McBookie to net first.
England record holder Wayne Rooney bagged a hat-trick in the away tie but with the England record holder sidelined Depay will be the man they look to for goals unless van Gaal decides to give teenager Anthony Martial a start after his wonder goal at the weekend.
United blew away Bruges and while PSV are better than the Belgians I expect another away win even without Rooney.
The Dutch are weaker without Depay and United look decent value at 6-5 with McBookie and Ladbrokes.
Man City are also in Champions League action at home to Juventus and will be cursing the fact Sergio Aguero is injured.
I’d be super confident about City with the Argentine against the Italians who have made a Chelsea-esque defence to their Italian crown with one point in three games after losing the likes of Carlos Tevez, Arturo Vidal and Andrea Pirlo.
It’s worrying times for manager Massimiliano Allegri and City will be confident of winning. Bookies are giving little away though with the home no bigger than 4-5 at the likes of Ladbrokes while William Hill have written off Juve at 9-2 with Hills.
This is £50million man Kevin de Bruyne’s stage and he is 13-4 at 888sport to score.
Joe Hart has yet to concede this season and his biggest threat of doing so will come from Mario Mandzukic and Paul Pogba but Juve are likely to be quite defensive and under 2.5 goals has a chance.
Another player facing a former employer is Zlatan Ibrahimovic who will return to action for Paris St Germain when the French giants host his hometown club Malmo.
PSG coach Laurent Blanc gave the Sweden forward the night off last Friday when the team drew 2-2 with Bordeaux after he picked up a knock while on international duty.
Ibrahimovic began his career at Malmo and scored 16 goals in 40 appearances before moving to Ajax in 2001.
Malmo made their Champions League debut last season and are keen to improve on their results after winning one and losing five.
They beat Celtic to reach this stage but at 2-0 down at Parkhead looked on the ropes and a better side in PSG should see them off without to many problems.
PSG are no bigger than 1-7 at BetBright to win so consider them -2 at 11-10 with Ladbrokes. Back Ibra to score first at 45-17 with 888sport and he is 19-29 to net at any time.
Real Madrid welcome Ukrainian outfit Shakhtar Donetsk to the Bernabeu with Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo in the mood to terrorise their opponents.
Ronaldo netted five at the weekend and Bale has made a good start to the season with the likes of Karim Benzema, Isco and Marcelo adding to the attacking threat.
You don’t often see Ronaldo as big as 11-4 (William Hill) to score first but he is just 4-9 with the same firm to net at any time.
Real are no bigger than 2-11 at BetVictor to win and while Shakhtar have plenty of Euro experience they could be blown away. Back Real at -2 Asian at 4-5 with bet365.
Wolfsburg are excited ahead of their first Champions League campaign since 2009 as they face CSKA Moscow at the Volkswagen Arena.
The Wolves have made a strong start to the domestic campaign, beating Bayern Munich to win the German Supercup and sit third in the Bundesliga with two wins and two draws from their opening four games.
De Bruyne is a loss but Dante and Julian Draxler have added quality and I expect the Germans, 10-11 at bet365, to win.
Borussia Monchengladbach are seeking to spark their season into life when they play in Europe’s elite club competition after a 37-year wait.
The German club went into this summer on a high after finishing third in the Bundesliga to qualify for the Champions League group stages but have lost four straight games and conceded 11 goals.
Friday’s 3-0 loss to Hamburg left Lucien Favre’s side with no points and at the foot of the Bundesliga and not in good shape for a trip to Europa League holders Sevilla where they lost 1-0 last season.
Sevilla won all seven of their home European ties last season and have never lost against a Bundesliga side at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.
They too have started the season slowly, losing 5-4 in extra time to Barcelona in the UEFA Super Cup in Tbilisi and taking just two points from their opening three games in La Liga.
Carlos Bacca was a big loss in the summer but Kevin Gameiro, Fernando Llorente and Ciro Immobile can provide goals and Sevilla have the experience to come through this one. They are 8-13 at bet365.
Atletico Madrid finished runners-up in the competition two years ago and have lost just one of their last six European group away games so will be confident of avoiding defeat away to Galatasaray.
The Turkish champions finished at the foot of their group last season, losing two and drawing one of their three home games, and sit 10th in the league after winning just one of their opening five fixtures.
But they have a potent forward thrust and Lukas Podolski will play alongside Wesley Sneijder in support of lone striker Burak Yilmaz.
Atletico’s summer signing Jackson Martinez could start having scored seven goals in eight Champions League appearances for Porto last season.
Benfica face Porto in a titanic league clash on Sunday but boss Rui Vitoria insists their full focus is on a home meeting with Astana.
They warmed up with a 6-0 home triumph over Belenenses on Friday with Kostas Mitroglou and Nicolas Gaitan bagging doubles.
Astana, a club only founded six years ago, are the first Kazakhs to play in the group stage, and could be out of their depth. Benfica are no bigger than 2-9 at Ladbrokes.
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