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Champions League preview, Tues 25th.

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Selections

RB Salzburg v Chelsea

Graham Potter kicked off his Chelsea reign against Salzburg in September and a draw left the Blues with an uphill struggle to qualify for the Champions League knockout stage.

But fast forward six weeks and a win in the return game in Austria will put Potter’s men into the next stage.

Chelsea dominated possession (72%) in the home game and managed 17 shots on goal and were generally wasteful at Stamford Bridge. Potter was not too critical after his first game at the helm and a repeat showing should be enough to get the job done at the Red Bull Arena.

Salzburg’s equaliser came after a catalogue of errors and a missed tackle, but they appear to have eradicated those mistakes in recent weeks.

Potter might have been expected to mould a side full of goals, but instead, so far, the former Brighton boss has created a team who give very little away.

The 1-1 draw against Manchester United was the first goal they have conceded in four Premier League games and they kept back-to-back clean sheets against AC Milan.

Kepa Arrizabalaga has been restored to the starting line-up in that time and he has been impressive in keeping five clean sheets in nine games.

Chelsea will be defensively solid on Tuesday night and their attacking options should see them get past their hosts.

Salzburg played out a 0-0 draw with second place Sturm Graz over the weekend to maintain their place at the top of the Austrian Bundesliga.

They, like Chelsea, give little away. In 13 games they have only conceded eight goals in their domestic league, but they do have a long list of injuries. And key man Luka Sucic has been added to their list of concerns after missing out at the weekend.

They have been pretty formidable at home this season and if they get their noses in front they will be difficult to overhaul. But expect Chelsea to keep them at arm’s length and nick a goal to put them into the round of 16.

Borussia Dortmund v Man City

Manchester City unusually saw off Brighton 3-1 at the weekend with less than 50% possession. 

City were worthy winners, but Pep Guardiola acknowledged the difficult job his side had against a Brighton side that went man to man at The Etihad. 

The result showed that City can find the answers against teams employing different tactics against them. 

That will again be the case against Dortmund, who are unlikely to match Brighton’s style on their home patch.

Dortmund, driven forward by Jude Bellingham, gave City a real fright at the Etihad and only late goals from John Stones and Erling Haaland got the job done last month.

City are a best-priced 8/13 to win in Germany, but that looks too short considering their recent hiccup in the goalless draw away at Copenhagen.

That was a game in which Haaland was rested and 10-man City also missed a penalty en route to the stalemate. 

Haaland though looks set to start against his former club, as City go in search of a point that will see them finish top of Champions League Group G. And that may subconsciously be their aim. 

The Norwegian striker was on target twice against Brighton and his acrobatic volley against BVB in the first game won the points for the hosts.

Another goal for Haaland is a distinct possibility and he is a best-priced 14/5 to score first against his old team-mates. 

His old friend Bellingham has starred for BVB this season and he scored another two in the 5-0 home win over Stuttgart at the weekend.

The England enforcer has four goals in four games in the Champions League and he is worth chancing again against Guardiola’s men. 

A Dortmund win is not unthinkable at around 4/1, but with a point for City required for top spot, a scoring draw could be the way to go at Signal Iduna Park.

Celtic vs Shakhtar Donetsk

Celtic are not a team to be trusted odds-on at home in the Champions League.

Regardless of the opposition the Hoops’ recent record in Europe’s top competition is not worthy of backing them at Parkhead against a Shakhtar side who have already won 4-1 at RB Leipzig.

They managed that with very little possession (32%) and they may well expect a similar amount of the ball in Glasgow.

The Ukrainian side put up a good fight in losing 2-1 to Real Madrid – a game in which they enjoyed 41% possession, so they are no pushovers.

A 1-1 home draw with Real was evidence of that and their 1-1 draw with Celtic in September was another good result for the hosts, who gave up the ball for long spells. 

But Shakhtar do have a handful of players who can hurt Celtic, namely Mykhaylo Mudryk and former Celt Marian Shved, who will be desperate to impress.

A win for Shakhtar could see them overtake RB Leipzig in the group, while Celtic need a home win to stand any chance of securing qualification to the Europa League knockout rounds.

Should Celtic win, it would be their first win on home soil in the Champions League group phase since the 2-1 win over Ajax in 2013. 

But there will be significant pressure on Ange Postecoglou’s side, who have yet to score at home in the competition this season after 3-0 and 2-0 defeats to Real Madrid and RB Leipzig.

Key stats

  • There have been under 2.5 goals scored in seven of Salzburg’s last eight CL games
  • RB Salzburg haven’t lost in any of their last 10 home matches
  • RB Salzburg leads 1-0 at home they win in 80% of their matches
  • Man City have won their last three matches against Borussia Dortmund (2-1) in all competitions
  • Man City are undefeated in nine of their last 10 CL matches
  • Manchester City scores 36% of their goals between the minutes 76-90
  • Celtic have failed to win their last seven CL matches
  • Shakhtar have failed to win 10 of their last 11 CL matches
  • The average number of goals in meetings between Celtic vs Shakhtar Donetsk is 2.2

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