Champions League Preview: Last 16 2nd legsMonday, March 12 2018
Having a dabble on the Champions League this week? Have a gander at this before you do...
Real Madrid, Manchester City, Liverpool and Juventus have all booked their place in the Champions League quarter-finals after completing their last-16 victories the previous week. Bayern Munich have effectively joined that quartet after a 5-0 first leg win over Besiktas and must merely rubber-stamp their progress in Istanbul, but the three other clashes left to decide are more evenly-poised. Shakhtar Donetsk bring a one-goal lead to Rome while Barcelona and Chelsea are currently all-square, as are Manchester United and Sevilla.
7:45pm Man Utd v Sevilla
Not for the first time, Jose Mourinho faced criticism for his side’s defensive approach in the first leg, which saw them draw 0-0 in Sevilla. The clean sheet could be put down to the work of goalkeeper David De Gea, who made eight saves – the most for a Manchester United goalkeeper in a Champions League game since Edwin Van Der Sar against Barcelona in 2011. The Red Devils should show more ambition here against a Sevilla side that have conceded 11 goals in their last six La Liga matches – only Levante have shipped more. United have won each of their three Champions League home games against Basel, Benfica and CSKA Moscow, winning two of them by a margin of more than one goal. Paul Pogba is back fit, Alexis Sanchez adds quality while Romelu Lukaku has answered some of his big game critics.
Scorecast: 2-0 at 6/1 with Betway as of 9th March
Tap-in: Manchester United win 4/6
Smart money: Goal Bands Team B: 0 at 11/10
7:45pm Roma v Shakhtar Donetsk
Shakhtar Donetsk reversed a half-time deficit to win the first leg 2-1, with Fred’s stunning free-kick putting them in front. Marlos, a Brazil-born Ukranian right-winger, was the driving force for Kroty, constantly looking to play balls in behind full-backs and will be a threat again at Stadio Olimpico. Roma though have the threat of Edin Dzeko, who has scored 18 goals in all competitions this term including a brace in a recent Serie A victory at Napoli. I Giallorossi though have accrued fewer domestic points at home than they have on the road, so we’re not backing them.
Scorecast: 1-2 at 12/1
Tap-in: Shakhtar win or draw 6/5
Smart money: Shakhtar win and over 2.5 goals 13/2
7.45 Besiktas v Bayern Munich
Besiktas have not lost any of their last 13 home games in European competition, which can be attributed partly to the notoriously intimidating atmosphere in Istanbul. Bayern Munich will be glad therefore, that they completed the job on their own turf with a 5-0 first leg win. Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski both bagged braces when the two sides met at the Allianz Arena last month, with Kingsley Coman also among the goals after Domagoj Vida’s early red card. The Turks though will want to exit the Champions League with dignity and with Bayern likely to rotate and perhaps drop the intensity of their play here, we’re backing a tight encounter.
Scorecast: 0-0 at 18/1
Tap-in: Under 3.5 goals at 7/10
Smart money: Under 2.5 goals at 17/10
Barcelona v Chelsea
It has been a poor start to 2018 for Chelsea, who have won just two of their eight Premier League games. The possibility of a successful season for the champions therefore, can only be salvaged with victory over Barcelona, with whom they drew the first leg 1-1. While there are positives to take from their unified display at Stamford Bridge, they still have it all do at Camp Nou. There are reasons why Ernesto Valverde’s side are unbeaten in La Liga – and why they have lost just two home games in all competitions since April 2016. The brilliance of Lionel Messi – who scored his first goal in his ninth appearance against Chelsea in London – may be considered one reason, but the midfield is another. Paulinho’s power, Rakitic’s ball-retention and Busquets’ bite provides the perfect foil for the timeless creativity of Andres Iniesta, who is expected to be fit here. A tough night could be in store therefore, for Antonio Conte’s off-colour Blues.
Scorecast: 4-0 at 12/1
Tap-in: Half-time/Full-time Barcelona – Barcelona at 21/20
Smart money: Team B (Chelsea) Total Goals Under 0.5 at 11/10
Ben Dinnery, Premier Injuries.
P.S. Betting Badman Matt Nesbitt will be back tomo with a review of the weekend's Premier League action and a few thoughts on what we learned.
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