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Andy Gray exclusive: An understrength Manchester United could struggle in Portugal

by Josh Powell | November 6, 2012

Andy Gray blog bylineExpert football pundit and analyst Andy Gray has joined Paddy Power to give his insight on the best of Wednesday’s Champions League betting.

Andy Gray’s Wednesday night treble:
Chelsea to win, Barcelona to win and Man United to draw: 15/2

Chelsea v Shakhtar Donetsk, Live on Sky Sports 3, Wednesday, 7.45pm

The contingent of Brazilian footballers that make up the nucleus of this Shakhtar side are very good. Chelsea have to be at their best to win this. Roberto Di Matteo can’t afford to leave anybody out and will play Chelsea’s strongest side tonight.

Juan Mata didn’t play at the weekend but he has been such an important player this season fans will hope to see him back tonight. Whether he plays Eden Hazard and Oscar as well as Mata is a big decision because Chelsea are not very good when they don’t have the ball. Shakhtar showed in Donetsk that they are a great attacking side.

Home advantage is important in Europe though and Chelsea have been stunned so far. They dropped two points at home to Juventus and lost away to Shakhtar. They won’t want to drop anymore points. Shakhtar are a genuine threat and Chelsea won’t want to have to go to Juventus needing a win in Turin. This will be a tight game but Chelsea can win at 19/20.

Both teams can score at 4/7 because Chelsea aren’t solid at the back and are unlikely to keep a clean sheet but the blues can win this game 2-1 at 15/2. It’s a very popular score in football and with Chelsea needing to win this they will be very determined to put on a performance. The holders certainly don’t want to go out in the group stage.

Sporting Braga v Manchester United, Live on Sky Sports 4,
Wednesday, 7.45pm

Sir Alex Ferguson could ring the changes here in this game. They have nine points in the bag and one more point should be enough for them to qualify. With a home game coming up against CFR Cluj he would be right to make changes in this game. He can take this opportunity to rest some of the big guns like Robin Van Persie and Wayne Rooney. He won’t want to give this game away but he doesn’t want to risk injuries and after winning the opening three matches this is a wonderful opportunity to rest his big players.

Javier Hernandez at 11/2 to score first stands out. He is a fabulous footballer with an exemplary attitude. He is one of the rare breed who can come on as a substitute at any time and be up with the pace of the game. His form is good and his eye for goal is good as he showed against Chelsea. He could well start and always has a sniff for goal.

Sporting Braga are made of strong stuff and have got better as this tournament has gone on. They are one of the big three in the Portuguese league and they won comfortably again at the weekend. They have to be respected and if United aren’t at full strength and don’t play at their best then Braga could beat them. But United should be their usual European selves. They will be very tough to beat and could well pack five across the midfield with one up top. They will make it difficult for Braga and won’t give much away.

5/4 is a tremendous price for a United win on paper but Braga can take advantage if United are under strength. A draw is a tasty bet at 9/4 and the 1-1 at 6/1 is an attractive price.

PEA-SY DOES IT: The ‘Little Pea’ Javier Hernandez scored a brace in Europe last week

Celtic v Barcelona, Live on Sky Sports 2,
Wednesday, 7.45pm

Barcelona know what to expect this time around and will be better prepared to take Celtic on. Celtic need to defend as well as they did in the Nou Camp and hope that Barcelona are a touch off colour. This will be a tough night for The Hoops.

Parkhead on a European night is a fantastic place with an amazing atmosphere but these Barcelona players won’t be phased. The atmosphere might actually play against Celtic because it will be so good the Barca players will love it. They’ll love the passion that’s around and that could play against the home side.

Barcelona should be comfortable and the 2-0 win at 13/2 will be a popular bet.

Pedro can always come in with a goal for his team. Lionel Messi is always a short price to get on the scoresheet and you won’t get much for your money. Somebody like Pedro always has a goal in him and 5/1 for him to score first is a nice price.

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