In this post betting tips and previews of the fourth round of Champions League group stage matches. Groups A and B: Shakhthar-Malmo, Real Madrid-PSG, Manchester United-CSKA Moscow
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SHAKHTAR DONETSK - MALMO
- Taison could retain to the starting XI having missed their last Champions League outing through injury.
- Alex Teixeira has been in sublime form in the league and Shakhtar's hopes are very much pinned on his ability in front of goal. He has scored 18 goals from just 12 league games this season.
- Olexandr Kucher and Darijo Srna are one booking away from suspension.
- Yotun returns from suspension, but may miss out following Pa Konate's impressive outing last time out.
- Rasmus Bengtsson and Markus Rosenberg are a booking away from a ban.
Shakhtar have been losing at both half time and full time in their last 3 matches in the Champions League (including qualifiers). Shakhtar have failed to score in their last 3 matches in the Champions League (including qualifiers). There have been under 2.5 goals scored in Malmo FF's last 4 games in the Champions League (including qualifiers). Shakhtar have lost their last 3 matches in the Champions League (including qualifiers).
Shakhtar Donetsk have been hugely disappointing in the Champions League this season and are facing the prospect of finishing the group stages with 0 points with fixtures against PSG and Real Madrid to follow the reception of Malmo. They are also looking for their first goal, with most of their hopes pinned on the performances of Alex Teixeira.
The Champions League is now the only focus for Malmo, having finished their league campaign at the weekend. Malmo are in pole position to finish third and drop into the Europa League and they should achieve this with just a point here, knowing Shakhtar are unlikely to take anything against PSG and Madrid.
A win for the home side, however, would bring in head-to-head and then goal difference, so there is still much to play for.
SHAKTHAR DOUBLE CHANCE + UNDER 3.5 (1.60 Matchbook)
REAL MADRID - PARIS SAINT
- Rafa Benitez is without a number of key players ahead of the reception of PSG. Gareth Bale, Dani Carvajal and Karim Benzema all trained away from the first-team squad in the build up to this match and are likely to miss out.
- James Rodriguez is back in contention, however. The Colombia international hasn't featured since the end of August. Luka Modric, Alvaro Arbeloa and Keylor Navas are all back in contention, too.
- Sergio Ramos sat out of their league win at the weekend, but is likely to return to the starting XI. The same is true of Keylor Navas.
Paris Saint Germain
- David Luiz has missed PSG's last four matches and is in a race to be fit for the trip to Spain, whereas Laurent Blanc will be without Javier Pastore and Marquinhos.
- Should Luiz fail to make the grade, Serge Aurier could continue to fill in at centre-back alongside Thiago Silva.
- Thiago Motta and Marco Verratti will come into the starting XI having been rested in the league.
- Angel Di Maria will return to Real Madrid for the first time since departing for Manchester United 18 months ago.
- Luiz and Verratti will incur a suspension with their next booking.
Real Madrid are undefeated in 26 of their last 29 matches in the Champions League (including qualifiers). Real Madrid have kept a clean sheet in their last 3 matches against PSG in all competitions. PSG have kept a clean sheet in their last 3 matches in the Champions League (including qualifiers). Real Madrid have seen under 2.5 goals in their last 3 matches against PSG in all competitions.
The reverse fixture between two of the richest clubs in Europe ended in a hugely disappointing 0-0 draw a fortnight ago and fans will be hoping for huge improvements from both sides in the attacking third.
The winner of this clash will qualify for the knockout stages should third placed Malmo fail to take all three points against Shakhtar Donetsk and they will likely go on to top the group, so there is a lot riding on this fixture.
Madrid have won all three home matches in each of the last two group stage campaigns, so PSG will have to upset the odds to record victory here.
HOME WIN (1.72, Sporting Bet)
MANCHESTER UNITED - CSKA
- Phil Jones missed United's 0-0 draw to Crystal Palace through fatigue at the weekend and could be rested here again, with Daley Blind ready to continue at the heart of United's defence.
- Memphis has also trained away from the main group in the build up to this fixture, with James Wilson, Antonio Valencia and Morgan Schneiderlin also doubts.
- Matteo Darmian has struggled recently and could be replaced in the starting XI by Ashley Young at right-back.
- Louis van Gaal could make changes to the front six as he seeks a change in fortunes in front of goal.
- Michael Carrick and Ander Herrera could form the base of the midfield, with Jesse Lingard coming into the side and Anthony Martial returning up front.
- Leonid Slutsky could recall on the services of Bibras Natkho after he marked his return in their cup win over FC Ufa at the end of last month.
- 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 on his return to Old Trafford.
Manchester United have drawn their last three competitive matches 0-0 - their longest run since 2005. A 1-1 draw away to CSKA Moscow preceded that run, also. Louis van Gaal admitted he is concerned with his side's form in front of goal and, worringly, there haven't been any signs of that changing.
CSKA Moscow, on the other hand, could sense they've got a chance of producing a historic result against the Red Devils. Igor Akinfeev has conceded a goal in each of his last 34 UEFA Champions League appearances, qualifying included. His last clean sheet in the competition came when CSKA drew 0-0 at Arsenal in November 2006 and they will have to improve their defending to get anything here.
HOME WIN (1.55, PaddyPower)
PSV EINDHOVEN - WOLFSBURG
- Philip Cocu is likely to still be without Jetro William, Simon Poulsen and Menno Koch. Jetro Willems hasn't featured for the away side since damaging knee ligaments in July.
- Florian Jozefzoon made his comeback in a reverse team fixture earlier last month, but is still awaiting his first-team return.
- Maxime Lestienne has returned to training following the death of his mother and is back in contention to play.
- PSV will have Santiago Arias back available after he missed the reverse fixture through suspension.
- Wolfsburg rested a number of first-team players for the league win over Bayer Leverkusen and they will all return here.
- The German outfit could be without Max Kruse, Christian Trasch, Felipe Lopes and Robin Knoche for the trip to Holland, however.
- Vieirinha could take Trasch's spot at right-back if he fails to prove his fitness.
Given Manchester United's recent woes, both teams should sense a real chance to progress from the group. There are only three points separating all four teams and a win for either side would surely be one foot in the door for the next stage of the competition.
PSV are unbeaten in all competitions since the start of March and will be hoping their home form will give them an advantage over Wolfsburg. The German side are seeking their first points away from home, although they are the stronger team on paper, so this match is evenly poised.
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