In this post betting tips and previews of the third round of Champions League group stage matches. Groups A and B: CSKA Moscow-Manchester United, Wolfsburg-PSV Eindhoven,
Malmo-Shakhtar and PSG-Real Madrid.
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CSKA MOSCOW - MANCHESTER UNITED
- Leonid Slutsky will be able to recall upon the services of Alan Dzagoev after he missed their 3-2 win over Ural S.R at the weekend through suspension. The home side may be without Bibras Natkho, however.
- Roman Eremenko could fill in for any Natkho absence.
- Zoran Tosic spent a year at Manchester United from 2009-10 and could line up against his former side here. He will have a point to prove.
- Louis van Gaal may be tempted to field almost the same team that comfortably dispatched Everton 3-0 at the weekend. Although, he may go with Michael Carrick from the start and give Bastian Schweinsteiger a rest this time around.
- Phil Jones and Chris Smalling coped with the threat dealt by Romelu Lukaku with ease and could be given another start together in Russia, which would see Daley Blind drop to the bench once again.
- Memphis, who has generally fared better in Europe for United, may still miss out after struggling in recent weeks. This could see Ander Herrera given another start further forward after impressing at Goodison Park with Wayne Rooney up front and Anthony Martial starting on the wing.
- Luke Shaw and Paddy McNair and Ashley Young are the only players expected not to feature in Russia.
CSKA Moscow goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev hasn't kept a clean sheet in the Champions League since they drew 0-0 with Arsenal in November 2006 - a run that spans 33 matches (including qualification).
Leonid Slutsky's men have yet to taste defeat on home soil in the competition this season (including qualifiers - W2 & D1) and will be confident of securing a result against a Manchester United side that have yet to look entirely convincing on their return to Europe's elite tournament.
CSKA can also take heart from the fact they've won five of their seven home games this season, drawing the other two matches.
Antonio Valencia scored the winner in a 1-0 win the last times these two sides faced in this corresponding fixture back in 2009. The United winger isn't expected to start this time around, however.
United's biggest difficulty is likely to be their ability to adapt to the harsh conditions in Russia and the artificial pitch. Should they manage that quickly, then should have enough to triumph here.
UNITED DOUBLE CHANCE (1.45 Matchbook)
UNDER 3.5 (1.25 Matchbook)
WOLFSBURG - PSV EINDHOVEN
- Wolfsburg can welcome midfield enforcer Luiz Gustavo after he missed their 2-1 defeat to Manchester United last time out in the competition.
- Vieirinha came off the bench in Saturday's 4-2 win over Hoffenheim having missed Wolfsburg's last seven matches with a thigh injury and could be promoted to the starting XI here.
- Robin Knoche and Felipe Lopes are still short of match fitness and are unlikely to be involved in any capacity here.
- Given their home advantage, Wolfsburg can be expected to revert to a more attacking formation (4-1-4-1) for this fixture that can see them potentially top the group with three points.
- Philip Cocu is likely to still be without Jetro William and Florian Jozefzoon. Jetro Willems hasn't featured for the away side since damaging knee ligaments in July.
- PSV will also be without Santiago Arias after he was sent off in their last Champions League outing, which could see Joshua Brenet switich to right-back and Simon Poulsen come in on the left side of the defence.
- Luuk de Jong returned to action from the bench at the weekend having been absent since late September with an ankle injury and could come back into the starting XI here.
- The travellers should also welcome Andres Guardado back to Champions League action after he missed their 3-2 defeat to CSKA Moscow last time out.
Group B is evenly poised with all four teams on three points after two games. Both sides will rightly feel they can grab one of the two top spots, with Manchester United widely expected to progress as one of the top two teams.
This encounter is the first of two back-to-back games between the sides and a Wolfsburg win would ease the pressure on themselves when they travel to Netherlands for the reverse fixture and give them a psychological advantage over PSV.
Dieter Hecking's side will be confident of securing all three points considering PSV's poor away form in the competition.
PSV are seeking their first win away to Bundesliga opposition since beating TSV Eintracht Braunschweig in the 1977/78 UEFA Cup third round.
That 2-1 victory remains their only victory in 17 trips to Germany, although they did lift the European Cup against Benfica in the 1988 final in Stuttgart.
The challenge they face is made harder considering they've lost eight of their last 10 matches in the Champions League proper.
HOME WIN (1.90, Sporting Bet)
MALMO - SHAKHTAR DONETSK
- Yotun is suspended for the hosts here following his red card against Real Madrid, which could see Felipe Carvalho start at left-back.
- Zlatan Azinovic and Guillermo Molins are both sidelined for Age Hareide's side.
- The Malmo boss could utilise a similar system to the one deployed against Madrid in the Champions League last time out.
- Taison is a doubt for the visitors, though is expected to be available to start.
- Shakhtar could name the same XI to the one that faced PSG last month.
Malmo currently sit third in Group A on goal difference only and need to win here if they are to harbour any hopes of progressing to the next round of the Champions League, especially with PSG hosting Real Madrid.
They, though, have lost their opening two European matches this season.
Shkahtar are in the same predicament as Malmo, though boast a worse goal difference.
However, the Ukranian side come into this tie brimming with confidence following a comprehensive 3-0 win at Dynamo Kyiv at the weekend.
This promises to be a closely-fought affair that Skahtar could edge.
AWAY WIN (1.85, PaddyPower)
PSG - REAL MADRID
Paris Saint Germain
- Kevin Trapp is sidelined for PSG, which means Salvatore Sirigu will start between the sticks against Real Madrid.
- David Luiz and Marco Verratti are both doubts for Laurent Blanc's side, though the latter should feature from the off.
- Angel Di Maria is in line to face Real Madrid for the first time since departing for Manchester United 18 months ago.
- Rafa Benitez is without a number of key players ahead of the meeting with PSG in France.
- Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, James Rodriguez, Pepe and Daniel Carvajal are all sidelined, while Sergio Ramos is a doubt, though should be fit to feature.
- Jese could lead the attack, while Casemiro may start in a midfield three alongside Toni Kroos and Luka Modric.
PSG currently sit level on points with Real Madrid in Group A, but are second on goal difference.
Laurent Blanc's side have lost just one of their last 44 competitive fixtures on home turf, that coming against Barcelona in the Champions League last season.
Real Madrid will be hoping to maintain their fine start to the season, with Los Blancos one of four teams - along with PSG - yet to suffer defeat in domestic action in Europe's top 5 leagues.
Their quest for a positive result will not be easy, though, as Madrid gear up for their first competitive meeting with PSG since 1994.
This promises to be an entertaining affair between two of Europe's giants.
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