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

16:00 Su 21Sep SS1

Man City v Chelsea

Home Win Draw Away Win
Key stats
  • Man City have not led at half-time in any of their last 19 league meetings with Chelsea
Expert verdict
Jose Mourinho outwitted the eventual champions last season and Chelsea have the ability to do it again. They have scored nine goals in their two away games and Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas have settled in brilliantly. The Blues have far more potency in attack than last season but still possess the steel required to keep a check on City’s creative players.

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