All eight of the first legs have now been played as the sixteen teams left in the Champions League battle it out for quarter final spots, and in truth there ware little if any surprises in these opening gambits.
Fortunately for punters, the good news is that a number of potentially profitable avenues have been opened up. Here are the pick of the bunch.
Mixed Fortunes For English Football’s Representatives
The status of the trio of English side’s left in the tournament couldn’t look any different right now. Arsenal need to go to the Nou Camp and win by two clear goals as a minimum to have any chance of reaching the last eight. Barcelona haven’t lost by two clear goals at home in a calendar year, and the last time they even failed to score at their famous ground was February 21, 2015. Of their last 40 home matches, Barca have won 35. Good luck, Gunners.
Arsenal were hammered 1-5 by Bayern Munich at their Allianz Arena HQ, and this match bears many of the same hallmarks. You could argue that Barcelona are a generous price here at 1/3, and the -1 handicap at 5/6 looks simply too good to ignore.
There’s happier news for Man City fans though, whose side made good on many pundits’ belief that they would overcome Dynamo Kiev simply because the Ukrainian outfit hadn’t played a competitive fixture since December 9 due to the winter break in Eastern Europe. With a two goal lead and three away goals if required, at 4/7 to win the return leg City cannot be overlooked.
For Chelsea, matters hang on a knife edge. An away goal in Paris was handy, although a 1-2 loss far from ideal. They’ve only lost once under Guus Hiddink of course since Christmas, but they will surely need to keep a clean sheet to progress. Keeping the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edison Cavani and Angel Di Maria quiet could prove tricky.
But the Parisians have only won three of nine away games in the Champions League, so the door is ajar for the Blues to bludgeon their way through. They are 17/10 to win at Stamford Bridge, and that looks good value to us. Will it be enough to see them through to the quarter finals? That remains to be seen.
We’ve already seen how Barcelona have one foot in the last eight, and their Spanish counterparts Real and Atletico Madrid look set to join them.
Real are practically unstoppable at the Bernabeu – winning 11/13 in La Liga, their last three matches ending 4-2, 5-1 and 6-0, and their three group games in this tournament won with consummate ease (13 goals scored, none conceded). Taking a 2-0 cushion back there from the first leg against Roma is the little encouragement they needed.
The Italians have improved of late with five wins on the spin in Serie A, but with no win in eight on the road in this competition – and 13 goals conceded in three during the group phase – they appear on a hiding to nothing. Remarkably, Paddy Power have the Real Madrid -1 handicap at 11/10 at the time of writing; and you must absolutely not miss out on that.
And then there’s Atletico Madrid and their own formidable home form. By keeping a clean sheet in Eindhoven during that 0-0 first leg stalemate, they are now red hot contenders to join their fellow Spaniards in the latter stages.
Diego Simeone’s men are 6/8 in Champions League home matches and 8/12 in La Liga. They should have far too much class on home soil for PSV, with their 5/11 price looking a prime ‘value adder’ to your accas.