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Friday, 19 October, 2018

Hard to see Liverpool finishing in the top four

Varied views from across the world of football betting

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp
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Andy Brassell
European football journalist

What’s your best bet of the weekend?
Dortmund -1 on the handicap at Darmstadt. The hosts are already as good as relegated, having collected one point from their last 33 available and this could be a long 90 minutes for them. Dortmund are not always totally convincing but the return of Marco Reus is a massive boost for Thomas Tuchel’s side, who were worth more than a 1-0 win over Leipzig last week.

Which favourites look most vulnerable?
I would not consider backing Leverkusen at odds-on against high-flying Eintracht Frankfurt. The shape of the Leverkusen side looks wrong in Roger Schmidt’s 4-4-2 and he needs to take some of the blame for asking too much of the wide players. They have placed too much burden on young centre-back Jonathan Tah and Hakan Calhanoglu’s suspension won’t help.

Will Liverpool finish in the top four this season?
No. I think they will miss out alongside Arsenal. Liverpool can look unbelievable under Jurgen Klopp but they lack consistency and I can see similarities to his last season in Dortmund when they struggled to beat inferior sides at home. It is still unclear why that season went so wrong for Klopp – does he get away with too much because he is such a character? 

Who wins the Champions League?
Bayern Munich. Arsenal look to be perfect last-16 opponents and I think Carlo Ancelotti has planned the whole campaign around peaking for the final few months. Under Guardiola Bayern were semi-finalists three years running, but they were ravaged by injuries against Barca and I still can’t believe Atletico survived that bombardment.

And which team is a good bet for the Europa League?
They have a tough last-32 tie but I will still take a chance on Roma overcoming Villarreal before going all the way. They have one of Europe’s best midfielders in Radja Nainggolan, while Daniele De Rossi is playing his best football for a few years and Edin Dzeko is the top scorer in Serie A, so there are plenty of reasons to get with Luciano Spalletti’s side.

Give us your prediction for Bayern Munich v Arsenal on Wednesday
This should be a comfortable Bayern Munich win at the Allianz Arena. I think you have to question Arsenal’s character after the last few matches and Bayern are pretty much unstoppable in Munich. Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery are playing well and Robert Lewandowski is a complete striker who has been brilliant in the Bundesliga this season.


Dan Childs
Racing Post Sport

What’s your best bet of the weekend?
Mansfield look good things to win at home to Hartlepool in Sky Bet League Two. Steve Evans has added better players in January and the Stags have taken 16 points from 18 this year. Hartlepool are on the slide and their recently appointed manager Dave Jones has a tough job on his hands.

Which favourites look most vulnerable?
Southampton look too short to win at Sunderland. The Black Cats will be buzzing after their 4-0 win at Crystal Palace and Jermain Defoe looks the right man to expose the sliding Saints, who have lost six of their last seven league games.

Will Liverpool finish in the top four this season?
No. Their squad was exposed as nowhere near deep enough during a busy January and opposition teams have worked out how to play against them. Liverpool usually monopolise possession but they lack a reliable centre-forward, a top-class keeper and a leader at the heart of their defence.

Who wins the Champions League?
Bayern Munich may just have the edge because their domestic commitments are not as great as their main rivals. Barcelona and Real Madrid are involved in a tough title race but Bayern seem to be getting the better of Leipzig and have just 15 league games left to play.

And which team is a good bet for the Europa League?
Manchester United are the clear favourites but look too short in the betting. Spanish teams have had a great record in the competition in recent years and I like the look of Athletic Bilbao, who are well-organised and tough to play against at home.

Give us your prediction for Bayern Munich v Arsenal on Wednesday
Arsenal were handed the worst possible draw and I can’t see them progressing. Bayern Munich have a great chance of going all the way and should be too strong for the Gunners, who have shown their defensive frailties in the recent losses to Watford and Chelsea.


Didi Hamann
Champions League winner

What’s your best bet of the weekend?
Manchester City -1 at Bournemouth on Monday. The Cherries have conceded three goals or more in nine of their last 13 and were hit for six at Everton. They look a train wreck at the back and if Eddie Howe is going to keep going for games against better teams they will get picked off. They look fragile when they concede so if City get ahead early, they can win with plenty in hand.

Which favourites look most vulnerable?
I’m not entirely sure why Southampton are so short at Sunderland. On a poor run of form, with their eyes on a League Cup final, they’ve lost their one top-class defender in Virgil van Dijk and are short of goals without Charlie Austin. Sunderland are going to give it a go under David Moyes and they showed at Crystal Palace last weekend what they are capable of.

Will Liverpool finish in the top four this season?
Possibly. But I wouldn’t back them to do it. Chelsea and Manchester City are going to pull clear while I can’t imagine Tottenham having the kind of run the Reds are on. Arsenal aren’t going away and Manchester United look like a team with a big finish in them. The bubble has burst at Anfield and it could be an up-and-down end to the year.

Who wins the Champions League?
I said Juventus from the off and I’m not going to change my opinion. It’s obvious the Spanish heavyweights are contenders and they are priced accordingly, but Juve have the nous to be able to prepare for big European games. They overpower everything before them in Italy – and Serie A has some decent sides – and I reckon they have a great chance.

And which team is a good bet for the Europa League?
At a decent price, I’ll say Schalke. After such a poor start to the season, they are getting much better. Five wins out of six in the group phase – including home-and-away triumphs over main dangers Nice – was impressive and last week’s 1-1 draw at Bayern confirmed the suspicion that they are heading the right way again. Getting Klaas-Jan Huntelaar fit is a bonus.

Give us your prediction for Bayern Munich v Arsenal on Wednesday
I’d give Arsenal a chance at big odds. Bayern are not the Bayern of the last few years. Some big names have gone, as has the manager, and Philipp Lahm has announced he’ll be hanging up his boots. That adds to the sense that Bayern are set for a rebuild and with their league form patchy, this is a decent time to be taking them on. Arsenal could easily turn in a blinder.


Ian Griffin
Betfair odds compiler

What’s your best bet of the weekend?
Sunderland at home to Southampton. Their home form is okay – they were narrowly beaten by Chelsea and held Liverpool 2-2. They will be confident after last week’s 4-0 win over Palace. Southampton have lost Virgil van Dijk to injury and seen captain Jose Fonte join West Ham. Their defence looks pretty shaky and they conceded three at home to West Ham.

Which favourites look most vulnerable?
We have seen a lot of money for Hull after their recent good form. They opened up at 16-1 and are now trading at 11-1. The Arsenal camp will not be the happiest after they were hammered by Chelsea last week, which ended their title hopes. With Arsene Wenger refusing to commit his future to the club there could be a backlash. 

Will Liverpool finish in the top four this season?
No. It’s impossible for me to think Liverpool will finish in the top four after their recent collapse. With only three points since the turn of the year they look like they have burnt themselves out. We have cut Jurgen Klopp to be the next manager out from 50-1 to 25-1, but his record stands for itself and it took him three years to win the Bundesliga.

Who wins the Champions League?
Atletico Madrid are always priced too big in the Champions League market. They have been in two finals in three seasons, and as they are out of the title race in Spain they look the value in the tournament. Atleti are hard to beat at home and having topped a group containing Bayern Munich they could go all the way.

And which team is a good bet for the Europa League?
Manchester United look way too short. They got beaten in the group by very average teams in Fenerbahce and Feyenoord. Roma look like value as Serie A looks to be over with Juventus seven points clear so they will be all out to win the Europa League. Tottenham could be a good bet with the Premier League probably out of their grasp. 

Give us your prediction for Bayern Munich v Arsenal on Wednesday
This can only go one way. Arsenal have a habit of giving themselves too much to do in the second leg when they come up against the big sides. This will be no different and I think Bayern to win to nil looks a decent bet.


Dan Sait
Racing & Football Outlook

What’s your best bet of the weekend?
Leeds look appealing against a Cardiff side who struggle on the road and have managed just one win and three draws in 13 meetings with top-ten teams this season. Leeds have beaten Cardiff to nil in their last three meetings, including a 2-0 victory in Wales in September, and have won their last six league home games (all to nil) and ten of their last 12 at home in total.

Which favourites look most vulnerable?
There’s a case to be made for opposing almost every favourite in today’s Premier League programme, but the standout lay looks to be Southampton at Sunderland. The Black Cats have looked vastly improved since their Africa Cup of Nations contingent returned, drawing 0-0 with Spurs and thrashing Palace, while Saints are out of sorts.

Will Liverpool finish in the top four this season?
No. I’ve been against Liverpool all season as they’ve always been too short. Too much was made of early wins over a developing Chelsea side and a Arsenal team featuring Holding and Chambers. There’s so little difference in quality between the top six that it would be daft to back any of them when underpriced and out of form, which is currently the case.

Who wins the Champions League?
You can make a strong case against every contender based on domestic wobbles, group-stage struggles or tricky last-16 opponents but If pushed I’d go for Real Madrid. A sensible approach at this stage may be to back big prices to lay later. Juventus and Seville are huge given they face weak last-16 opposition in Porto and Leicester.

And which team is a good bet for the Europa League?
The fact that Villarreal and Roma have been paired in the round of 32 puts me off backing two of the more likely candidates, so I’ll go with Tottenham. Much depends on how seriously they take the competition, but that concern applies to most of the serious contenders and the price is big enough to tempt – unlike Manchester United’s. Zenit look interesting too.

Give us your prediction for Bayern Munich v Arsenal on Wednesday
Arsenal have made first-leg disasters something of a habit. But while the Gunners often turn in a decent second-leg display after the damage is done, a trip to Munich is a serious test for anyone. Bayern should take a lead in the tie, but Arsenal could nick an away goal – I’ll go for Bayern to win 2-1 or 3-1. 

Liverpool usually monopolise possession but they lack a reliable centre-forward, a top-class keeper and a leader at the heart of their defence
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