The glamour and prestige of the Champions League returns this week with the first round of round of 16 fixtures. There’s some cracking matchups here particularly with Juventus hosting an in-form Tottenham whilst the big boys in Real Madrid will be looking to find some happier times by taking care of Neymar’s PSG in their matchup. Even beyond that though we have some great looking contests between Basel and Manchester City whilst Liverpool will head to Porto. For City it’s a tough fixture because whilst on paper it may look relatively straight forward, Basel have been known to cause some headaches for a few.
**Odds from Sportsbet.com.au as of 12th February
Juventus vs Tottenham
The big games and the tests keep coming for Tottenham. Having taken 7 points from their last 3 league matches against Manchester United, Liverpool, and Arsenal, they now have to head to Turin and try and continue the form that they now find themselves in. Given they way they handled the big matches in the group stage (finishing top of a group that included Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid), they have every chance of taking something out of this match. Their chances will also be boosted given Juventus have some injury doubts hanging over the likes of Dybala and Matuidi. Despite those concerns, Juventus are on an 11 game winning streak in which they’ve also only conceded 1 goal. That’s an incredible record and one in which Tottenham will be doing very well to break-through. This is of course the Champions League though and funny things can happen that throw those statistics straight out the window. What does look likely is that this will be a tight contest and one in which Tottenham will be nipping at the Juventus’s ankles the whole time.
Predicted Result: Draw 1-1
Best Bet: Under 2.5 goals at $1.63
Best Value Bet: Half-Time Draw at $2
Basel vs Manchester City
There’s little doubting Manchester City’s quality and it seems as though they’re starting to build some form and belief in a competition that they really haven’t lived up to in seasons gone by. If they do have an achilles heel though, it is their defence. In their last 10 matches in all competitions, they’ve only kept 2 clean sheets. A lot of that means little when you also score 29 goals over those 10 matches and that’s something that puts them in a strong position away to Basel here. Basel defensively are a strong side and have only conceded 17 times in their 21 league matches thus far but it’s fair to say they probably haven’t faced a side in such good attacking form as Manchester City. How they handle it will be interesting but it’s likely they’ll be put on the back foot from the get go. There will be fight no doubt and perhaps it’ll end up being a tight score line, but expect City to come through with a win here.
Predicted Result: Manchester City 2-1
Best Bet: Manchester City to lead at Half-Time at $1.72
Best Value Bet: BTTS – Yes at $1.91
Porto vs Liverpool
This looks a really tricky match for Liverpool, particularly away from home. Porto have only conceded 10 goals in their league this season and in their last 6 in all competitions have only conceded once. That’s a great record but one too that may not mean a lot when faced against Liverpool’s attack. The likes of Salah and Firminio have been in such incredible form this season that defensive records will really mean very little. The problem for Liverpool is defensively you really cannot trust them. When they do keep a clean sheet it’s almost unexpected but when you kind of expect them to keep a clean sheet, they don’t. That’s just the nature of their current defensive line-up and one that still needs some time. All-in-all though, this may be shaping up as one of those tighter than expected contests. Both sides will be wary of each other’s offensive capabilities and for Liverpool they may be pretty happy to come away with a draw before the reverse fixture where they’ll be well placed to push through.
Predicted Result: Draw 1-1
Best Bet: BTTS – Yes at $1.62
Best Value Bet: Draw at $3.5
Real Madrid vs PSG
Real Madrid will be chomping at the bit to get a really good result here, particularly Ronaldo. They’ve had a rough season that sees them sitting in 4th place in the league with their rivals Barcelona now 17 points ahead. This means that this is a crucial opportunity for them to restore some pride in their season outside of the league. For PSG it’s an interesting contrast because really they haven’t been challenged in their league given they enjoy a 12 point cushion at the top of the table. Neymar has clearly been a great acquisition for them having slotted in 19 goals and 11 assists already but these are the games he’s made for so it’ll be interesting to see if he can pull his side to a good result here. Seeing how Tottenham managed to earn a draw at Real Madrid in the group stages, there’s no reason PSG cannot do the same. The interesting part will be seeing how Real Madrid perform early on here. You’d suspect Real Madrid should edge this though because Ronaldo will be pushing very hard to carry his team to a victory here. A fresh Bale too, after only coming on from the bench for their league game at the weekend points to how crucial this is for Real Madrid and they’ll be well up for it.
Predicted Result: Real Madrid 2-1
Best Bet: Real Madrid to win either half at $1.6
Best Value Bet: Real Madrid to win at $2.4