By William Hill
Last Updated: 9th December 2019
The final round of Champions League fixtures take place this week with Liverpool and Chelsea in action on Tuesday and Manchester City and Tottenham on Wednesday.
Here is our look at the Tuesday fixtures as Liverpool and Chelsea seek to cement their position in the knockout stages of Europe’s elite club competition.
Liverpool can edge high-scoring affair in Salzburg
Hosts Red Bull Salzburg warmed up for one of the biggest nights in their history with a comprehensive 5-1 thrashing of WSG Swarovski Wattens over the weekend, with the in-demand Erling Braut Haaland amongst the scorers. The Austrian side are hunting their first-ever qualification to the knockout stages of the Champions League and whatever happens on Tuesday they can look back on their campaign with fondness, having scored 16 goals so far in Group E – a tally that has only been bettered by Bayern Munich and Tottenham.
If they were to be knocked out at the group stage, it would be a bitter pill to swallow considering the most goals scored by a side in the group stage to be eliminated were Chelsea with 16 in 2012-13. Salzburg are 27/10 for victory here, with Haaland, a scorer of 28 goals in 21 club appearances this season, a 4/1 poke to open the scoring.
Domestically, things continue to go serenely for Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool. Another victory, this time over Bournemouth on Saturday, maintained their eight-point cushion at the head of affairs in the Premier League and, perhaps more importantly, after Manchester City’s loss to Manchester United, the gap to last year’s winners is now 14 points. Klopp made seven changes for the trip to the Vitality Stadium, but given the performances of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita, it turned out to be a shrewd move.
The Reds are now enjoying a club-record 33 league games without defeat and have won 15 of their 16 domestically so far, but while there is an air of invincibility in that competition, things are far less straightforward in Europe.
Make no mistake, this won’t be easy for the Premier League leaders. Salzburg have won 18 of their 25 matches this season, with their only two defeats coming to Liverpool and Napoli. They have tasted success in 15 of their last 20 at home in Europe and they should take heart from Liverpool’s recent European away-day struggles, with just two wins in their last 11 on the road.
Meanwhile, goals can be expected in this one. Neither side have kept a clean sheet in the competition so far and both have combined for an average of 4.33 goals-per-game, so over 2.5 goals at 2/5 looks guaranteed, while over 3.5 at 10/11 looks of interest too.
Taking this into account and given Liverpool’s impressive record in the competition over the past two seasons, a Reds win with both teams finding the net at 9/5 looks the most solid option.
Chelsea can seal last-16 qualification against Lille
It was a bit of a bounce back to reality for Frank Lampard on Saturday against Everton. Yes, many will argue the new manager bounce effect came into effect in Duncan Ferguson’s first game in charge of the Toffees, but in all honesty, Chelsea were pretty poor.
With such a young squad, it’s likely that you’ll get the odd dud performance and given how well the likes of Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Christian Pulisic have performed so far this term, you can excuse them a below-par performance or two.
However, at home to Lille in the Champions League on Tuesday, the Blues are the overwhelming 2/11 favourites.
It’s been a very tough campaign for Lille, who have picked up just one point so far. They’ve lost four of their five games in Group H and, having done really well to make it into the Champions League group stages, they’ve really struggled to mix it with Europe’s best.
The campaign has gone so badly for the French outfit that they don’t even have the chance to qualify for the Europa League, but pride is still on offer and they head into this one as the 16/1 outsiders, with the draw 11/2.
It’s hard to look past Chelsea here, especially as they know a win will guarantee them a place in the last 16. That would cap a pretty impressive first few months in the Blues job for Lampard and it seems the good days could slowly be returning to Stamford Bridge. They’ve been impressive at home so far this season and they look a decent bet at 17/20 to win this one to nil.