Football is crazy. Leicester are top of the league. Chelsea are two points off relegation. Steve McClaren is still employed. And, if results go the wrong way, Manchester City might be the only English side left in the Champions League at 10.30pm on Wednesday.
While it may have led to four months of football that has been as exciting, bewildering and shocking as spending a night with Mark Lawrenson and a bag of cocaine, it has proven to be a punting nightmare. Luckily, with Christmas around the corner and a Paddy Power safety net cushioning any potential surprise, we’ve got a 40/1 accumulator that will hopefully pay for some festive cheer.
And the best part about this fivefold is that if one leg lets you down you get your cash back as a free bet. In this crazy season of football we need every insurance we can get, and Paddy is duly delivering. In a lot of ways you could call him Santa – he’s overweight, his cholesterol is through the roof, and he’s a borderline alcoholic – but still, he delivers the goods.
With the Acca Insurance providing a handy safety net and Christmas little over a fortnight away, here’s our Champions League acca that returns a tidy £420 off a £10 bet.
PSV v CSKA Moscow – PSV
PSV need a victory here in order to put them in with a chance of making the knock-out stages – and Phillip Cocu’s side can use their home advantage to pick up all three points. Eindhoven are on an eight game unbeaten streak in all competitions, while in their last 12 home games they’ve won 11 and drawn once. Both Wolfsburg and Manchester United have lost at the Philips Stadion, and CSKA Moscow can be added to the list. The Moscow side certainly aren’t feeling festive, and since the start of November they’ve lost five and drawn one of their six games.
In the Champions League Moscow have lost nine of their last 11 away ties, dating back to December 2011, and that certainly isn’t a great omen for any of the travelling support heading to the Netherlands on Tuesday night. PSV at 4/5 look like a solid bet to kick-start your accumulator.
PSG v Shakhtar Donetsk – PSG
In the last 16 months PSG have lost just one match in all competitions at home – and that was against high-flying Barcelona led by a front three of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, and Neymar, so we can forgive them for a minor hiccup there. Other than that 3-1 loss, there isn’t a blemish on PSG’s run at Parc des Princes so you can be sure we’re not going to oppose Laurent Blanc’s side on Tuesday night.
Their price is skinnier than the dairy-free milk hipster’s tend to take in their fancy frappuccinos, but against this Donetsk side it looks like a safe play. Shakhtar may be dominating the domestic scene, but in Europe they’ve lost four of the last five and look as useful as £10 note. PSG are short, but well worth including.
Sevilla v Juventus – Draw
A point will guarantee Juventus top spot – and with an Italian team needing a draw in European competition, you’d be crazier than a bag of raccoons not to side with them. The Old Lady are unbeaten in seven games in all competitions and have kept clean sheets in four of those clashes. It’s the same story in Europe, where they’ve conceded just twice in their five group games – with PSG the only side in the tournament with a meaner defensive record.
Sevilla are no slouches and a win would give them an outside squeak of pinching a Europa League spot, but Juventus are experienced enough to know how to grind out a draw in Spain and guarantee top spot in Group D. Consequently meaning another nightmare draw and early exit for Manchester City.
Galatasaray v Astana – Galatasaray
Galatasaray certainly isn’t the hellacious, nightmare away tie that the media might like to hype it up as, but you can guarantee a passionate atmosphere if not an overwhelmingly impressive home side. One win in the last six doesn’t make for great reading and would do plenty to put you off backing an 8/15 shot, but Astana from Kazakhstan should prove to be a level below the Turkish champions.
Astana pinched a point off Galatasaray at home – a 2-2 draw that bizarrely featured three own goals – but it should be a different story in Istanbul. The Kazakhstan side have already played five away ties in this year’s Champions League courtesy of qualifying, and have failed to win – losing three and drawing two. More worryingly they have failed to score on four of those five occasions, proving as efficient up front as Steve McClaren’s hair during a light breeze.
Wolfsburg v Man Utd – Draw
Despite Manchester United’s lack of entertainment, style, or goals, plus their ability to play the type of football that encourages you to crawl into a ball in the corner of a dark room and listen to Dido, Louis van Gaal’s side have only lost one of the last 16 in all competitions. Slightly more concerning is that seven of their last 10 matches have finished all square with opponents including Middlesbrough, Crystal Palace, CSKA Moscow, Leicester and West Ham.
If PSV Eindhoven win, a draw won’t be good enough to see United through, but a point is what they might have to settle for against Wolfsburg. Whatever Louis van Gaal’s philosophy is, it certainly doesn’t seem to include nabbing late winners and a draw would almost certainly see Wolfsburg keep top spot in Group B. The German side have lost just twice at home this season – and the two they lost have been against Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, so we can cut them a bit of slack.
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