Champions League odds, news and free bets: Tue 23 October

Chelsea have barely put a foot wrong this season and the west London side take a long journey to the Ukraine this week as they continue their Champions League defence against Shakhtar Donetsk

Roberto Di Matteo might consider rotating the team after an emphatic 4-2 win at White Hart Lane and the same is likely to apply to Sir Alex Ferguson who has seen his Manchester United team win both their opening European matches.

Meanwhile, Celtic have the toughest possible assignment when they travel to the Nou Camp although a win away to Spartak Moscow means that Neil Lennon’s team have four points on the board and two defeats against Barcelona won’t be the end of the world.

Shakhtar Donetsk v Chelsea
The top two teams in Group E meet at the Donbass Arena, with Chelsea needing to keep their foot on the pedal after a 2-2 draw at home to Juventus before an emphatic victory away to Nordsjælland. Juve now have a double header against the Danish side which means they could have the advantage going into the final two rounds of group games.

Not that confidence could be much higher at Stamford Bridge after an amazing start to the Premier League campaign, with Chelsea coming from behind to win 4-2 at White Hart Lane and they will use that blueprint when facing the champions of Ukraine.

The visitors can be backed at 9/5 (bet365 £200 free bets) to win the match which is probably the biggest they have been to claim victory all season, although the menace of Ramires, Juan Mata and Eden Hazard on  the counter-attack makes them an irresistible proposition.

We’re likely to see the experienced Frank Lampard back in the team for this match and he’s an 11/1 poke (Sky Bet bookmaker) to score first, with John Terry also likely to return to the side even though he’s serving a four-game domestic suspension.

Shakhtar will also be upbeat going into this match after claiming a 1-1 draw at the Juventus Stadium earlier in the month which means a victory in this game will essentially make them group favourites. Coral offer a best price 6/4 and Mircea Lucescu’s side have amazing form which has seen them win all games bar one this season.

We certainly shouldn’t expect the open game we witnessed at White Hart Lane on Saturday and a low-scoring encounter could ensue, especially as Chelsea’s defence has been largely stout this season.

Manchester United v Braga
There is no denying that the Red Devils have been handed an easy Champions League section, with Romanian and Turkish football nowhere near the standard of English, Spanish, Italian and German counterparts.

Victories against Galatasaray and CFR Cluj means that Manchester United already have clear daylight between themselves and their Group H rivals, with Braga arriving at Old Trafford having lost at home to the Romanian champions before claiming a 2-0 victory of their own in Istanbul.

Sir Alex Ferguson will be tempted to leave Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney out of the team ahead of Sunday’s Premier League showdown at Stamford Bridge, with Rio Ferdinand also likely to be given the night off and the bookies offer no bigger than 4/11 (William Hill) about United.

Braga were third behind Benfica and Porto in the Portuguese league last season and António Salvador’s team look vulnerable from a defensive point-of-view if a recent 4-4 draw with Olhanense is anything to go by.

Even so, they will look to take advantage of any changes made by Ferguson and can be backed at 4/1 to snaffle a draw in this game and 9/1 to walk away with a maximum haul, just as Spurs did earlier this season.

Barcelona v Celtic
Neil Lennon is realistic to know that anything that Celtic get from their two Champions League matches against Barcelona will be an unexpected bonus, with the Spanish side packed with world-class players who have won a stack of silverware between them.

Barca are the favourites to win this season’s competition and they have enjoyed a storming start to the season which has allowed them to go eight points clear of arch-rivals Real Madrid and the latest victory was a very exciting one indeed.

Tito Vilanova’s side won 5-4 at Deportivo La Coruna and Lennon will be clinging on to the fact that this Barcelona defence doesn’t appear particularly strong at the moment, with the Catalan side going 2-1 down at home to Spartak Moscow in their Champions League opener before winning 3-2.

Even so, Celtic are 35/1 to win at the Nou Camp which reflects the tall order that they face against this team of classy individuals which includes Lionel Messi.

It was a Messi hat-trick which ensured three points against Depor and the maestro is a 2/1 chance to score the first goal of the game, while the home team are no bigger than 1/10 (bet365 bookmaker) to continue their 100% start in this competition.

A slightly more interesting price is the 4/6 about Barca winning to nil with Paddy Power, even if Celtic managed to find the net three times in Moscow.


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