Steer clear of dead rubbers to earn some Christmas coppers

This week's Champions League is a bit like being offered a Christmas shopping trip with the missus or an afternoon down the pub - there's nothing left to be decided.

For punting purposes it's best to focus on the few games that do matter and I can't get excited about backing the possible carve-up in Chelsea's group.

It's bad enough backing the draw at 5-2 but when the bookies are dangling odds-on quotes about a mutually beneficial stalemate between Shakhtar Donetsk and Juventus then, as that bloke off the telly would say, "I'm out".

Celtic made life a little bit more tense for themselves by losing in Benfica last time out but I reckon the Hoops can cruise past Spartak Moscow and into the last 16. Their home form is terrific - they fully deserved to beat Barcelona in their last Champions League game at Celtic Park - and I think we can put a line through the weekend's Scottish Cup draw with Arbroath.

Spartak concede bundles of goals, most of them in the first half. They've shipped eight before the break in their last three games and Celtic shouldn't have to wait long for their breakthrough tonight. I'm backing Neil Lennon's boys to be leading at half-time and at full-time. The Glasgow weather might make the Russians feel at home but a fired-up Celtic side should be too hot for them to handle.

Match in Focus

19:45 We 26Oct BT3

Juventus v Sampdoria

Home Win Draw Away Win
Expert verdict
Juventus’s six-match winning streak ended with a 1-0 defeat at Milan on Sunday but that could be bad news for midweek visitors Sampdoria. The champions will be determined to get back to winning ways as soon as possible although they have been starting games fairly sluggishly recently and the draw-Juventus double result has copped in four of their last six matches.



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