The Champions League returns this week, and punters are being treated to a blinding set of fixtures at this Round of 16 stage. If you find yourself alone on Valentine’s Day evening then not to worry: you’ll have your pick of Benfica vs Borussia Dortmund and PSG vs Barcelona to warm your cockles while your mates are trying desperately to impress their loved ones. You, friend, are winning.
Then on Wednesday evening there is another couple of crackers: Real Madrid host Napoli while Arsenal travel to Munich to take on German champions Bayern.
It has not been a happy few weeks for Arsene Wenger and his side, and while a small amount of pride was restored in the 2-0 win over Hull on Saturday all would be lost if they took a hammering in Munich – it might just cost the Frenchman his job at the end of the season.
So will the Gunners be outgunned by an old rival?
Tuesday’s Champions League Betting Tips (14/2/17)
Before we get to see Arsenal in action we have Tuesday’s double-header to consider, and there Borussia Dortmund look an excellent price to see off Benfica.
The German side haven’t always been at their dazzling best this term, but on their day they remain a force to be reckoned with. They rested players at the weekend – hence their Bundesliga defeat to Darmstadt – with the point being that they will be ready to rock in Portugal.
Benfica squeezed through their group by virtue of having a better goal difference than Besiktas, and that is hardly a glowing reference to their quality. They top the Primeira Liga table but Portuguese football is not exactly the greatest standard, and besides which their two league defeats have both come since the beginning of December.
Dortmund swept aside Benfica’s great domestic rivals Sporting Lisbon twice in the group phase, and that is an interesting insight for this one. The 7/5 on them to win this one is simply too good to ignore.
Over in France, meanwhile, PSG have the rather unenviable task of trying to stop Barcelona from waltzing away with an away goal-laden victory. The Catalan giants won 6-0 on Saturday to take their tally to 19 goals in their last five games, and PSG – without David Luiz in defence of course – will need to find a way to stop Messi and co.
But maybe they can. Barcelona’s away record in the Champions League reads W5 D2 L3 of late, which is perhaps not as all-conquering as we might expect. Defeats at Bayern, Atletico and Manchester City, where they conceded a combined eight goals, suggests the Parisians need to get at them.
And maybe they will. PSG have netted in 22/25 Ligue 1 matches this term, and have blasted 12 in their last six Champions League outings at the Parc des Princes. We’re willing to follow in with a Both Teams to Score wager at 4/6.
Wednesday’s Champions League Betting Tips (15/2/17)
Anybody that follows either of Real Madrid or Benfica will know that goals tend to follow them around; 12 of Real’s last 13 matches have witnessed Over 2.5 Goals with Napoli obliging in eight out of ten. We have no further questions your hour: Over 2.5 Goals & BTTS is the play here at 10/11.
And that leaves us with Arsenal, who face a monumental task in Germany. Bayern have won 17 of their last 20 home matches in the Champions League; one of which was a 5-1 stuffing of the Gunners in 2015.
There is no obvious sense that Arsene Wenger’s side have improved since then, and while they may well get on the scoresheet – Jerome Boateng will once again miss out for the hosts – you can’t help feeling that they have their work cut out to keep the scoreline respectable. A price of 23/20 on Bayern to Win & Over 2.5 Goals is simply too good to miss.