A Champions League game-week has finally fallen upon us yet again. After such a long break – cancel the midweek plans, prepare to spend your Tuesday and Wednesday’s clock watching and to hear THAT song circa 7:45pm.
It’s been nearly two months since the last round of group games in mid-December, and with the first ties of the Round-of-16 commencing from tomorrow, we here at Lazy Fan have taken a look at the markets and picked out some of our best bets of the week.
We have four fixtures this week spread across Tuesday & Wednesday with two taking place each evening:
- AS Roma v FC Porto
- Manchester United v Paris Saint-Germain FC (PSG)
- AFC Ajax v Real Madrid CF
- Tottenham Hotspur FC v Borussia Dortmund
As a punter, I enjoy seeking value for money bets and bets which I think the bookies have outlandishly overpriced due to some kind of oversight, let’s hope we can find some winners!
AS Roma v FC Porto
Last year’s semi-finalists, Roma, who so dramatically knocked out Barcelona, take on 2004 Champions League winner’s Porto.
Despite a deep run last season, Roma have never been victorious over their Portuguese opponents, drawing two and losing the other two.
Could this play some negative mind games for the Romans as they enter the field knowing they’ve managed to better the team against them?
Or could the fact that this game comes just two weeks after Roma were drubbed 7-1 in the Coppa Italia by Fiorentina affect the mentality of the Italians?
Let’s not also forget that Porto won Group D in scintillating fashion, winning five of their six matches, drawing the other, and scoring three goals or more in four of those victories. In all competitions, they are unbeaten in 14 away games, and won 3-0 at this venue in 2016. They have however, only progressed three out of ten attempts from the Round-of-16.
Taking all this into account, my pick for this tie is: FC Porto @ 3.75 (11/4)
Manchester United v PSG
Easily the clash of the evening, perhaps expectedly what will be on most TV screens in pubs across the countries, and one could go as far to say the tie of this round.
Manchester United’s revived form under the baby faced killer, Ole Gunnar Soljskaer, has landed them – just as previous manager, Jose Mourinho had predicted (albeit under different circumstances) – back into the top four.
Winning 10 of a possible 11 since the draw was made back in December, the ‘Red Devils’ are now a completely different force compared to the side that graced the group stage and to what PSG would have been expecting.
The big injury news for the French champions is that Neymar will not be in the squad due to an ankle injury, and neither will star striker Edinson Cavani after coming off injured in PSG’s last game.
With the likes of Pogba, Martial, and Mbappé all on the pitch at once, this game is going to be exciting. And while it may be easy to side with a United win at home, what with their current form, PSG are no mugs and not to be underestimated. They were one of the favourites for the tournament before a ball had been kicked and bolster one of the best attacking line-ups in world football. With the fact that both teams have scored in both PSG’s last 10 CL matches and in 4/5 of United’s last five home victories, I think it’s clear that this game is due some goals.
Therefore, my pick of this tie is: Both teams to score & Over 2.5 goals @ 1.95 (19/20)
And now onto Wednesday evening:
Ajax v Real Madrid
Ajax lit the group stage up in the last months of 2018, scoring 8 goals and going unbeaten (two wins and three draws) – with two of those draws coming against German giants Bayern Munich.
Their team full of youngsters has been playing exceptional football both in their domestic league and on the European level, with Barcelona realising this and snapping up De Jong in the January transfer market for €75 million and will join the Catalonian club in the Summer – hoping to leave some lasting memories for his loyal Dutch fans.
For current champions Real Madrid, this was perhaps a group stage to forget. Losing two of their five games, home and away to CSKA Moscow, was nothing short of embarrassing for a side who has dominated Europe in the last decade.
This was however, when Real Madrid was experiencing a dip in form across all competitions, and results in the sacking of their manager, Julen Lopetegui. Since then their form has undergone a rapid change, as they now sit in second in La Liga and are breathing down Barcelona’s neck.
The two sides haven’t met in this competition for more than six years, yet every time they have there’s been a guarantee of goals. All five meetings between the two have resulted in over 2.5 goals in the match and both teams have had leaky defences in the last few weeks, each team with only one clean sheet in their last six.
For these reasons, my pick for this tie is: Both teams to score @ 1.5 (1/2)
Spurs v Dortmund
Now to the tastiest tie of the week, for a Spurs fan at least…
This game comes at an interesting time with Spurs’ lacking their attacking duo Harry Kane and Dele Alli and Dortmund had to suffer a 3-3 draw at the weekend without Marco Reus.
The two sides did face each other in last year’s group stage which was dubbed the ‘Group of Death’ – Tottenham avoiding the grim reaper on that occasion though, picking up home and away wins over the German side and ensuring their progress to the Round-of-16.
However this Dortmund team now sit on top of the Bundesliga and have many goal scoring options and not to mention the wonder kid Jordan Sancho lighting up the league.
Spurs on the back of 3 consecutive wins despite not being at their best and playing without their best players. Dortmund are now just showing signs of them beginning to waiver as they head into Wednesday’s Wembley clash winless in three, throwing away a 3-0 lead at the weekend and having crashed out of the DfB Polkal Cup. Wearing my Spurs blinkers makes it hard for me to look past Spurs picking something up out of this.
Therefore, my pick for this tie is: Tottenham to win & Both teams to score @ 4.33 (10/3)
Champions league four-fold:
- FC Porto @ 3.75 (11/4)
- Man Utd/PSG Both teams to score & Over 2.5 goals @ 1.95 (19/20)
- Ajax/Madrid Both teams to score @ 1.5 (1/2)
- Tottenham to win & Both teams to score @ 4.33 (10/3)
This four-fold prices up to around 46/1 but be sure to check your odds via Oddschecker and remember to gamble sensibly.
Let me know what you think of my picks and if you’ll be backing them this week, or if you fancy something else below!