Real Madrid, Arsenal, Valencia and Liverpool all face collective week of reckoning at home and in Europe It's the first crunch week of the season in Europe, as the group stage of the Champions League draws to a close, and for several big teams the chance of landing a major trophy could be over before Christmas. Big names such as Real Madrid, Arsenal, Valencia and Liverpool are in danger of Champions League elimination and of losing touch with the leaders in their respective domestic leagues. Other big teams such as Roma and Deportivo La Coruna have already kissed their hopes goodbye. League leaders Chelsea, Barcelona, Juventus and Bayern Munich, meanwhile, are all in the comfort zone, with commanding positions at home as well as assured places in the last 16 of the Champions League. That quartet have the chance to maintain - and possibly stretch - their domestic advantages this weekend, knowing that their midweek games are unimportant. Juventus and Barcelona should justify short odds with home wins over Lazio and Malaga respectively - the only doubts being raised by Lazio's good record at Juve and Barca's recent struggles against teams they should beat easily. Both games are live on TV. Chelsea are much too short for a home win over Newcastle, however, in tonight's early live match from the English Premiership. That result may be the most likely, but Newcastle gave Chelsea a good game in the League Cup last month, before succumbing in extra time, and the form of Jose Mourinho's team is overrated in the odds. Most punters won't want to oppose Chelsea, but a draw on the handicap HAD is a better-value option for those who believe they will win. Bayern Munich's current form is also hard to fault and they should win at Nurnberg, though the home side have acquitted themselves well in a series of tough matches and could force a draw. Things do not look so easy for Real Madrid and Liverpool, who face tough away trips followed by decisive clashes in the Champions League. Liverpool take their unconvincing away form and weakened attack to Aston Villa in another of tonight's live games and it is only Villa's poor record against England's Big Five that reduces confidence in a home win. Real Madrid also face a strong home side in Villarreal, whose home record in the Primera Liga and Europe reads nine wins, two draws and one defeat (against Spanish teams it is four, two, one). Madrid's away form is certainly no better than that, and arguably worse, so Villarreal look a decent bet on the handicap to take at least a point in tomorrow's live game. Valencia, who have been much less convincing on the road this season, also have a tricky trip to Albacete - one of two live matches from Spain tonight, along with Barcelona v Malaga. Arsenal at least have the advantage of playing both their crucial games at home - tonight's live Premiership clash with Birmingham and the midweek Champions League decider with Rosenborg. It's worth making the point again that Arsenal's recent performances have not been too far below their usual standard - bar the home draws with Southampton and West Brom - and there is a high probability of two home wins from them this week despite the pressure. Their chances are fully reflected in the odds, however. As usual, most of these big games are ones to watch rather than bet on, and the best value lies with the more unfashionable teams at more realistic odds. Starting in the Premiership, four home teams to consider are Norwich, Portsmouth, Blackburn and Middlesbrough. All four have better chances than the odds suggest, with the possible exception of Boro, whose odds look about right for Monday night's late live match against Manchester City. Blackburn, in tonight's late live match against Spurs, and Norwich (v Fulham) have been better lately than their league positions indicate and both have more solid credentials than their erratic rivals. Norwich are available at odds-against on the handicap and that looks worth taking, whereas Blackburn's odds are more appealing for the straight win. The other bet that appeals in the Premiership is high goals in the Manchester United v Southampton match - another of tonight's live games. The same odds are available for this bet and a United win on the handicap HAD, which seem the only value way of playing this match, but high goals appeals more due to its regular occurrence in past meetings between the sides. The shortlist in Spain must include Levante at home to Getafe. Both are among the newly promoted sides but it is no surprise that Levante are faring much better in the Primera Liga. They are 10th with Getafe 17th, and the fact that both are much stronger at home should be the decisive factor here. Levante have won four out of six at home (their only defeats came against top-five sides Espanyol and Real Betis), while Getafe have taken only one point from six away trips. Another strong home side who should get back on track is Real Zaragoza, who haven't won in four league games but still look generously priced for the visit of Espanyol. Zaragoza have won five out of six at home in the league (plus three out of three in the Uefa Cup). Espanyol have scored fewer goals overall than Zaragoza have managed at home in the league. Fast-improving Hamburg look a good bet at home to Hannover in the German Bundesliga. Hamburg have notched five wins and a draw in the six games since Thomas Doll took charge and their long-term home record gives them a good chance of victory over Hannover, who lie three places above them in fifth but whose away form has enough holes to make Hamburg a worthwhile bet. Arminia Bielefeld, who have found their feet following promotion, are worth backing at shorter odds in their home match against bottom club Hansa Rostock. Bielefeld failed to win in their first four games but have since won seven from 11 and beat reigning champions Werder Bremen in their last home game. Rostock have taken only one point from their last seven league games, scoring only two goals, so they look a poor match for well-organised Bielefeld. The other bet well worth considering is the draw in the Ruhr derby between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke, tomorrow night's late live game. It is surprising that the draw odds are so generous - based on the long-term statistics of this fixture, backing the draw in both league meetings would have earned a profit in 12 of the last 13 seasons. The best value in Italy lies with two more promoted sides, Cagliari and Fiorentina. Cagliari, fresh from two wins against Lazio, will be tough hosts for Chievo, who are a useful mid-table side but may not cope with the islanders' in-form attack. Cagliari's only home defeat was against Milan and they were unlucky to share a 3-3 draw with Inter in their last home league match, having twice led by two goals. Fiorentina are not as flamboyant as Cagliari, but they have lost only once in their last 10 games in league and cup - 1-0 away to leaders Juventus - and look too solid for fourth-bottom Bologna, who managed a 2-2 draw at Inter but otherwise have taken away points only from teams below them in the table. Two Italian teams whose odds are too long for an away win are Sampdoria at Roma, and Messina, who go to Inter Milan. Both are top-half teams with a tough mentality and their odds are dictated by the reputations of their opponents, not by form. Best homes: Hamburg, Blackburn, Cagliari, Levante, Zaragoza. Best aways: Messina, Sampdoria. High goals: Manchester United v Southampton, Real Sociedad v Betis. Low goals: Everton v Bolton, Borussia Dortmund v Schalke. THOUSAND-DOLLAR WAGER Each week our expert tipster Nick Pulford suggests his pick of the fixtures to offer the best return-to-risk ratio for a $1,000 bet. This week: $200 win Hamburg, Levante, Zaragoza. $150 win Blackburn, Cagliari. $100 draw Borussia Dortmund v Schalke.