At the half-way stage of the Champions League many of the continent’s most lauded clubs are serenely on course for the nitty-gritty of the round-of-16, but given the way their remaining fixtures fall our quartet of big-time Charlies won’t be counting any chickens.
There may seem like little cause for alarm with Serie A kings Juve’s total of two points from their first three fixtures given they drew their first three last term on the way to the quarter-finals, but they have Real Madrid next up and close the group out away to Galatasaray.
The Turks are currently two points better off than the Old Lady, yet Gala can be backed to qualify at longer odds of 33/20.
Things haven’t gone according to plan after the obligatory home win over Anderlecht, with Jorge Jesus’ men given no change at PSG and then relying on a late Oscar Cardozo strike to claim a point at home to Olympiakos.
The Eagles had a puddle to thank for denying the Greeks’ David Fuster what would have been a winning goal and must prevent the Piraeus side winning at the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium to avoid the unedifying prospect of needing to take points off Les Parisiens in their final game.
At even money Olympiakos are still a quarter of a point longer in the to-qualify betting than last year’s Europa League nearly men.
Napoli have already bettered the Gunners’ home result against Dortmund and matched their 2-1 victory at the Stade Velodrome and with the second instalment against Marseille next on the agenda they can establish an advantage over Arsene Wenger’s men, who travel to Germany.
The reality of Arsenal’s precarious position is illustrated by the fact that they are 11/20 to qualify in comparison to the Neapolitans at 3/5.
With both sides still to face Dortmund away it could all come down to a winner-takes-all face-off at Stadio San Paolo, the ground where Napoli killed Man City’s maiden Champions League campaign two seasons ago.
The second Portuguese team in our at-risk big club quartet, the Primeira Liga Champions are arguably the most endangered of the foursome after home losses to Atletico Madrid and Zenit.
The Russians are 1.65 favourites of the pair to reach the knockout rounds and can virtually assure their progress by beating the Dragons in Russia next time.