After a Champions League week that took the breath away, the blowhards extolling the virtues of English club football can, for once, puff out their chests with pride.
Stunning performances from Tottenham (16/1 in the outright market), Liverpool (10/1) and Manchester City (3/1 favourites) means this week there is even more pressure on Manchester United and Chelsea to hit the dizzy heights witnessed in Turin, Porto and Basel.
How will they get on? Football odds expert, Dan Roebuck, previews this one…
Real Madrid’s reawakening also forced bookmakers to revise opinion on the European Champions (5/1 from 8/1 to successfully defend their crown), in what turned out to be a profitable midweek for followers of this column – let’s hope for more the same this Tuesday and Wednesday.
Messi Moment for Chelsea
Let’s get the stats you’re going to hear out of the way first; Chelsea are unbeaten in seven games against Barcelona while Lionel Messi has played 655 minutes of Champions League football versus the Blues without scoring – against no other team has he gone that long without finding the net.
I just don’t see either run continuing, though.
Antonio Conte’s side just gives up too many chances to the opposition. Even in their 4-0 Friday night cup win over Hull City, the Tigers managed ten attempts at goal, five of which were on target.
Start the week by hearing from Chelsea legend Joe Cole, who knows all about playing in big games against Barcelona at the Bridge… 👇https://t.co/hBPL9gjKwI
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 19, 2018
Chelsea are 14/5 to beat Barca at Stamford Bridge with the visitors 21/20, and a shade of odds against looks decent value for the La Liga leaders who are still unbeaten in the Spanish top flight this term.
It’s ten years since Messi went more than five games without scoring for his club side – expect him to snap his scoreless run by grabbing the opener at 3/1.
Bayern to Bully Besiktas
Bayern Munich’s relentless charge for yet another Bundesliga title can go a little-unnoticed outside of Germany, and I’ve seen few articles suggesting Jupp Heynckes can repeat the Champions League success he achieved in 2013.
The Turkish club are unbeaten in this season’s competition but are making their debut in the knockout stages. Unbeaten in seven matches domestically, Senol Gunes’ side won all three of their away group games but cannot be fancied to land odds 17/1 to win in Munich.
Bayern, 1/7 to win the first leg, haven’t lost at home all season and are on a winning run of 13 games in all competitions. Back the hosts at 4/6 to score three or more goals in the game – something they’ve achieved in every home European game this term.
Sevilla Support Out of Pocket
Sevilla’s selfish decision to ramp up ticket prices for away fans for the visit of Manchester United has already backfired, with a tit-for-tat response from the Old Trafford club. And it might get worse for the home faithful at the Estadio Ramon Pizjuan, as the Red Devils look good value at 6/4 to come away from Andalusia with a first leg win.
United are 22/1 to win the Champions League and given Jose Mourinho’s record in the competition, those odds seem glaringly big. Sevilla are 2/1 to win the opening game but as the Portuguese has won seven from eight matches against the Spanish club in his managerial career, it appears he knows just how to get a result against Los Rojiblancos.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) February 18, 2018
Neither side have been free-scoring recently, and a classic Mourinho smash and grab raid might be in order here. Punt United to win 1-0 at 7/1.
Shakhtar to Sustain Spell Over Roma
Shakhtar Donetsk have only ever managed to win two games in the knockout stages of the Champions League – but both were against last 16 opponents Roma. And given the Italian side have failed to keep a clean sheet in any of their last 24 games in Europe’s Premier club competition, it may pay to side with the Ukrainian club again.
Shakhtar are 6/4 to defeat Roma, with the visitors 37/20. It’s worth reminding punters that this game will take place in Kharkiv, but all of their games do, and it didn’t stop them beating Manchester City in the group stages back in December.
Shakhtar shook off any ring rust with a 5-0 thumping of Chornomorets on Friday and can beat a Roma side that have won only two last eight away games.