GW 17 Ones to Watch

Matt: Our first midweek round of the season is long overdue, but hopefully worth waiting for! With the addition of ALL Champions League fixtures, this is an extremely rare opportunity to venture outside of the UK – one which i’d imagine will be grabbed by nearly every player!

Those CL games are certainly high on my agenda, so where better place to start with my tips. There’s at least half a dozen ties i really like the look of, chief among them being Borussia Dortmund who are facing Belgian champions Club Brugge at the Westfalenstadion, a fantastic ground i was fortunate enough to visit in 2017 when England played there. Dortmund are currently top of the Bundesliga, unbeaten in the league all season and level pegging with Atletico Madrid at the top of Group A in this competition. Throw in a recent 3-2 victory against the mighty Bayern Munich, a game in which they twice came from behind to eventually win, and attacking options which include Mario Gotze, Marco Reus and the England national team’s latest sensation Jadon Sancho, and i can’t see anything other than a win for the Germans – especially as Brugge head into the fixture off the back of two very surprising defeats against Charleroi and Waregem in the Jupiler League. Another loss here will signal the end of their participation in this season’s Champions League, but while Brugge may have won their previous UCL away game 4-0 at Monaco, it would be little surprise to me to see them on the receiving end of the same scoreline here.

I’m definitely tempted to go into full European mode in terms of my own seven selections, but to mix it up a little in this section i’m reverting back to one of our usual leagues. I’m tipping high flying Leyton Orient of the National League, as they take on Aldershot Town at Brisbane Road (another ground i’ve been to, but in the interests of impartiality i’ll not be making any comparisons to Dortmund’s!!) The East London based outfit are on a run of four wins and one draw from their previous five games, including an excellent 2-0 success at third placed Wrexham on Saturday, and have netted 7 goals in their last two home matches. The O’s will be looking to keep the momentum going against an Aldershot side whose form is in stark contrast to that of their hosts; Town have only won once in seven outings and head to the capital having suffered three straight defeats. The smart money will likely be placed on that becoming four, but as we always say, it doesn’t matter what the final score in this game, so long as your teams bag a goal you’re in business! Good luck.

Ally: This midweek round has certainly thrown up some interesting possibilities with the addition of the Champions League action to the roster. My first tip is current Premier League leaders Manchester City, who face a trip to France where Lyon await in this Group F clash. City have been in imperious form of late and will be looking to avenge their sole defeat of the season, which surprisingly came on Matchday 1 of the Champions League as Lyon beat a below-par City side 2-1 at the Etihad Stadium. Like all French sides, Lyon are currently trying to hang onto the coat tails of runaway Ligue 1 leaders PSG, and while they are well positioned to progress from this UCL group, they do have a habit of conceding goals (as well as scoring them) having let in 8 in their 4 European games so far. City have faced criticism in some quarters for their relative lack of success in the Champions League, but they are equally as dangerous on their travels having failed to score just once away from home all season, and are likely to provide Lyon’s defence a stern test with the form they are in.

My second tip is from the Spanish capital, where Atletico Madrid welcome Monaco in a Group A tie. Manager Diego Simeone has certainly turned Atletico into a tough nut to crack during his time in Madrid, and they currently sit third in La Liga behind Barcelona and surprise early season leaders Sevilla. They have a more workmanlike style in comparison to their illustrious rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid, but still boast some serious attacking prowess in the shape of Antoine Griezemann and Diego Costa. Monaco meanwhile recently appointed legendary former Arsenal and France striker Thierry Henry as manager, but it’s fair to say he’s not had an easy introduction to the top job inheriting a side in the bottom three of the French Ligue 1, and he only got his first win at the seventh attempt at fellow strugglers Caen at the weekend, and I fancy Atletico to get the job done here. Good luck!