The remaining 1st leg ties finish off this week and there’s a lot to live up to after some fantastic performances last week. It all started with Tottenham’s fightback from 2-0 down at half-time that could have very easily been 3-0 if not for a missed penalty. Their 2-2 draw makes the 2nd leg a tantalising prospect of a contest to come. Then there was the fightback from Real Madrid from 1-0 down to win 3-1 against PSG at home that no doubt restores some pride to the reigning back-to-back champions. Those were two results that sandwiched a 4-0 win for Manchester City over Basel and a 5-0 for Liverpool over Porto. If this week’s ties are anything like last week then we are in for a treat.
**Odds from Sportsbet.com.au as of 19th February
Chelsea vs Barcelona
The Blues may have found some wins in their last 2 matches with a 3-0 win over West Brom in the league and a 4-0 win over Hull in the FA Cup last time out. Reality will surely hit them in this one though with a step up in opposition when Barcelona visit. Barcelona are yet to lose a league game and have only lost one match in all competitions this season. The challenge for Chelsea will be keeping Suarez and Messi quiet and whilst their 7-0 aggregate score-line over their last 2 matches looks healthy, they will surely be playing out of their skins to keep a clean one here. Despite the fact that Messi has also failed to score in 8 matches against Chelsea, that’s a record that may be broken here as he sees his side through to a positive win before the return leg.
Predicted Result: Barcelona 2-0
Best Bet: Barcelona to win either half at $1.53
Best Value Bet: Barcelona to win to Nil at $3.75
Bayern Munich vs Besiktas
With Bayern Munich hosting this one, it’s very difficult to see anything other than a home win particularly given they very rarely lose at home. They will of course need to do so with Manuel Neuer through injury but even without him, Besiktas will find it tough going. Their best hope will be to keep this as tight as possible before the return leg and so it may be frustrating for Bayern at times in this one. Expect a tough match but one that may look routine when the final scores come through.
Predicted Result: Bayern Munich 3-0
Best Bet: Bayern to win to Nil at $1.83
Best Value Bet: Bayern to win both halves at $2.1
Sevilla vs Manchester United
Manchester United are in a bit of a rough patch of form lately where they haven’t strung together back-to-back wins in their last 5 matches in all competitions. Of their last 5 matches, 4 of them have been away where they have lost twice to Tottenham and Newcastle. It’s almost as if they have also lost some of their scoring prowess with only 1 of those 5 matches producing over 2.5 goals. The likes of Lukaku have really struggled to consistently produce good performances whilst Pogba has not been at his best this season just showing glimpses. This away trip to Sevilla will be very difficult too and they’ll be well up for a contest here. Sevilla are undefeated in their last 5 matches at home in all competitions where they have only conceded 3 times in that period as well. It’s true that Sevilla’s league form hasn’t been too flash but this is the sort of game that will see the energy levels lifted and it’ll be a difficult place for United to come and get a win where an away goal may be the best result they can hope for.
Predicted Result: Draw 1-1
Best Bet: BTTS – Yes at $1.83
Best Value Bet: Draw at $3.2
Shakhtar Donetsk vs Roma
This looks another really close contest with both sides pretty evenly matched. Shakhtar had a great home record in the Champions’ League group stages where they produced 3 wins over Napoli, Feyenord and Manchester City. That was a very strong group with City and Napoli at the top of their league tables and it points to how difficult this is going to be for Roma to get a win here let alone a draw. The home advantage too helps Shakhtar immensely and they look well placed to head into the 2nd leg with a win here. Roma will no doubt make it difficult and seeing them score looks a likely proposition given they did not keep a clean sheet at home during the group stages.
Predicted Result: Shakhtar 2-1
Best Bet: BTTS – Yes at $1.72
Best Value Bet: Shakhtar to win at $2.4