After a 10 week break, the Champions League returns to our screens this Tuesday and Wednesday as 8 of the remaining 16 teams go head to head in the first leg of the knockout stages.
There’s some mouth watering ties on offer as Bayer Leverkusen host PSG and Barcelona travel to Manchester to play Man City on the Tuesday. There’s no let up on Wednesday as AC Milan entertain Atletico Madrid and Arsenal welcome Bayern Munich to the Emirates.
Leverkusen against PSG is going to be a close affair, and I don’t think PSG are as big a favourite as the bookies suggest (7/5 with BetVictor). They’ve been a little shakey in recent weeks with just 2 wins from 5, and one of those needed a last minute Zlatan goal to get the win. Leverkusen themselves haven’t been in fantastic form either, but they are generally a tough nut to crack at home having won 10 from 13 games in League and Cup. Bayer draw no bet @ 6/5 with PP seems like a touch of value.
Man City’s home to Barcelona has goals written all over it. Man City’s defeat at home to Chelsea last weekend was the only time they’ve dropped points this season having won all previous 10 home games scoring 42 goals in the process. They’ve also hit the back of the net 10 times in their 3 CL group home games, one of which including a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Bayern Munich.
I can’t see Barcelona emulating that performance though. Barca have scored 27 goals in their 12 away games in the league this season, although some teams just shudder at the thought of facing Barcelona in the league. Man City won’t be scared, and I feel they can do a job on Barca and replicate or better Ajax’s 2-1 win against the Catalan giants in the group stage. Man City to win and Both Teams to Score @ 18/5 with Coral is where i’m punting in this game.
AC Milan at home to Atletico Madrid is a tough one to call. If the performance in the group stages is anything to go by, then Atletico are rightly favourites having won 5 and drawn 1 of their 6 games, and racking up a 15-3 goal difference. Milan, hampered by having Barcelona in the group, managed to creep over the line as group runners up with just 2 wins, but they just weren’t clinical enough at home. Atletico have been in blistering form in the league this season, having won 18 from 23 league games to see them joint top with both Barcelona and Real Madrid.
They were surprisingly beaten by Almeria last time out, and that was sandwiched in between 2 defeats to Real Madrid in the cup so their immediate form shows 3 defeats on the bounce, with 0 goals scored and 7 conceded. Milan are languishing in 11th place in the league with just 7 wins from 23 games this season. They’ve been anything from consistent, and found goals hard to come by. I think the teams may cancel each other out, and I don’t see it being an easy win for either team, so backing under 2.5 goals @ 8/13 with PaddyPower.
Arsenal’s reward for failing to top their group, is a tie against the CL favourites Bayern Munich. As an Arsenal fan, I fear for my team here. Bayern are just an immensely well organised team, and i just don’t think Arsenal have the backbone to stop them despite Ribery’s omission. Going forward, Arsenal have lacked in front of goal and they’ll need to do something very special to to get out of this game with even a draw. 18 wins and 2 draws from 20 league games, with 53 goals scored and just 9 goals conceded is as good as it gets for the Germans.
They go into this game on the back of 12 straight wins in the league, and 19 wins in their last 20 games. Arsenal aren’t exactly full of confidence with a 0-0 draw versus Man Utd and a 5-1 drubbing by Liverpool in their last 2 outings fresh in their minds. Arsenal will put all their energy into keeping this tight, and Bayern don’t score too many in the first half of games, so I’m going to have a small bet on Draw HT Bayern FT @ 4/1 with Coral, and bigger bet on Bayern to win @ 20/23 with Boylesports.