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The Champions League group stage draws to a close this week as clubs fight for seeding and aim to punch their tickets to the knockout stage.
Eight of the 16 spots in the knockouts are still up for grabs, as is first place in Groups E, G, and H. There's plenty to play for on this final matchday as the Champions League graces us with its presence for a final time in 2019.
Entering the sixth and final round of group matches, we're 14-14-1 for a profit of $1,293 on the season. Let's continue to build the bankroll and keep the momentum going into the round of 16.
Atalanta (+155) at Shakhtar (+155), Draw (+275)
Group C is in for an entertaining finale as Shakhtar, Atalanta, and Dinamo Zagreb can still join Manchester City in the knockout stage. A Shakhtar victory would secure the second spot for the Ukrainian outfit, while any other result makes things murky.
A draw would leave Shakhtar needing a City win or draw against Zagreb to progress. Meanwhile, Atalanta need to win and see Zagreb fall short of victory to have any chance of reaching the knockouts.
With both teams gunning for the three points, that means plenty of attacking football, which Atalanta are no strangers to. The Serie A outfit attacks with reckless abandon, and that's a game plan it'll especially have to abide by Wednesday night.
Expect the visitors to open up from the off in search of goals, leaving themselves exposed to Shakhtar on the break. The hosts possess a ton of pace in attack and are built to score on the counter. Their two home games have featured seven tallies, while Atalanta's two away fixtures have produced 10. There should be no shortage of goals when these two meet in the finale Wednesday.
Pick: Over 3 goals (+100)
Liverpool (-118) at Salzburg (+275), Draw (+300)
The situation couldn't be simpler for Liverpool: beat Salzburg and the Reds win the group. If only the task at hand was as straightforward. Salzburg have given clubs fits throughout the competition and boast a plethora of high-end young talent. They play a refreshing brand of football and are often rewarded for their bravery. We saw it in the reverse fixture at Anfield when the Austrian outfit battled back from 3-0 down against Liverpool only to lose 4-3.
The Reds will recognize the delicate nature of the situation they're in, with a loss very likely knocking them out of the competition. Because of that, we should see a bit more caution from Liverpool, with Salzburg sure to get after them while facing a must-win situation. Expect Jurgen Klopp's side to grind out a result, relying on its experience to claim the point the team needs to book a spot in the last 16.
Pick: Draw (+300)
Manchester City (-125) at Dinamo Zagreb (+280), Draw (+320)
These next two contests are textbook value bets. Are Dinamo Zagreb on the same level as Manchester City? No. But the hosts face a must-win match Wednesday night in Croatia when they host a City side that has nothing to play for. Pep Guardiola will almost certainly rotate his squad, especially with a trip to Arsenal looming Sunday. City faced a similar situation in the final match of the 2017 group stage and lost at Shakhtar. It's tempting to pick a Dinamo win here, but with City losing to Manchester United last weekend, another defeat won't sit well with Guardiola. The hosts' late push will fall just short.
Pick: Draw (+320)
Real Madrid (+120) at Club Brugge (+210), Draw (+270)
Sticking with clubs that have nothing to play for, Real Madrid are locked into the second spot in Group A, behind Paris Saint-Germain. There's no moving up or down for the Galacticos, while Club Brugge will be looking to lock down third place and book a spot in the Europa League knockout stage. Los Blancos lost 3-0 in their group finale last year with nothing to play for and should field a significantly weakened side in Belgium ahead of their trip to Valencia on Sunday.
Brugge were unlucky not to win the reverse fixture at Santiago Bernabeu, as they squandered a 2-0 lead, but they'll get the job done this time around against a Real side coasting into the knockouts.
Pick: Club Brugge (+210)
Napoli (-600) and Atletico Madrid (-550) are both overwhelming favorites at home to Genk and Lokomotiv Moscow, respectively, and should have no issue claiming three points against significantly weaker opposition. Incentive won't be an issue either, with both sides still yet to book their place in the knockout stage.
By pairing those clubs with Ajax (-167), we get to plus-money with three strong home favorites. The Dutch side welcomes Valencia to Amsterdam, with a win securing its place atop Group H. A draw would likely relegate Ajax to second place, while a defeat would send them to third. Erik ten Hag's side already won 3-0 in Spain earlier in the group stage and should have no issue extending its impressive home form.
Pick: Napoli, Ajax, Atletico Madrid (+120)
Alex Moretto is a sports betting writer for theScore. A journalism graduate from Guelph-Humber University, he has worked in sports media for over a decade. He will bet on anything from the Super Bowl to amateur soccer, is too impatient for futures, and will never trust a kicker. Find him on Twitter @alexjmoretto.