After the winter hibernation the Champions League makes its reappearance, and it comes back in impressive fashion. The opening batch of knockout fixtures brings us the two favourites for the trophy, along with the holders. Obviously the stand out for many is the game between Real Madrid and PSG, who are obviously going to be among the main contenders for the trophy come May. Can the French side end Real’s dominance in this competition and take the crown for themselves?
Aside from that, the other three Champions League games this week all feature English sides. The Premier League is well represented in the last 16, with five teams making it through. Man City take on Basel on Tuesday, with the Citizens fancied to go all the way in Europe. Tottenham and Liverpool aren’t expected to go quite as far, but their European campaigns have been entertaining so far, and their last 16 ties should go the same way.
Tuesday 13th February 2018
Basel v Man City (19:45) – City to Win and Both Teams to Score (15/8 with Coral)
Man City have a few selection issues heading into this game, which have plagued them in recent weeks. Losing the ability to rotate effectively means that these City players are likely to drop off soon, given the demanding nature of Pep Guardiola’s playing style. The manager has no choice but to stick with his first choice side in the Champions League, although they should have enough quality to dismiss Basel on paper. The only issue remaining is the odd record which Premier League sides have against the Swiss outfit.
The likes of Liverpool and Chelsea have suffered setbacks at Basel in recent years. A similar fate was handed out to Man United in the group stage of this year’s competition, as the Swiss won 1-0 in the home meeting against the Red Devils. While we expect more from City, we can see the English champions in-waiting slipping up at the back in Europe this week. Having kept one away clean sheet in Europe since the start of last season’s group stage, City are vulnerable at the back. That has us backing City and BTTS here, which seems like great value with Basel strong on home soil.
Juventus v Tottenham (19:45) – Juventus to Win (10/11 with Betfair)
This last 16 clash is another big test for Tottenham, who have work to do in order to build on their strong group stage results. They have a tough trip to Turin to deal with, and this clash comes at the wrong time for them. While Spurs are in decent form and pushing for the top four in the Premier League, they’re facing a Juve side who are playing their best football of the season. The Old Lady of Italian football lost out in the final of this competition last term, so it feels like there’s unfinished business in what could be Gigi Buffon’s final season as a player.
Juventus are making the most of their legendary keeper in goal, as he has been part of a brilliant run defensively. The Italian giants have conceded one goal since their 0-0 draw with Barcelona back in November. They built their run to the final in Cardiff on excellent defending last year, and they seem to be peaking for another tilt at the competition. With Napoli challenging them domestically, they should remain competitive enough to keep their edge right the way through to the final. Having won six of their last seven European home games, we’re backing Juve to claim a victory here.
Wednesday 14th February 2018
Porto v Liverpool (19:45) – Over 2.5 Goals (4/5 with BetVictor)
Liverpool’s Champions League chances have taken a blow without Philippe Coutinho, but the Reds still have a shot in this competition. They’re favourites to see off Porto in the last 16, and Jurgen Klopp does have previous when it comes to overachieving in Europe. He’s already guided Liverpool to a European final, and they look set to take their breathtaking attacking play into Europe when they take on the Portuguese side on Wednesday. However, with Porto setting the pace in the Primeira Liga, can they cause an upset?
Porto just about made it through the group despite losing two of their opening three matches in Europe. They come into this game on the back of some high scoring European clashes, as they saw over 2.5 in five of their six group matches. The only one of those not to see both teams score was a 3-0 win away to Monaco. Given how Liverpool play and their record both going forward and at the back this season, we could see a real thriller here. This game is flying under the radar, but it could prove to be really entertaining, so we’re backing over 2.5 goals.
Real Madrid v Paris St Germain (19:45) – PSG Draw no Bet (11/10 with Ladbrokes)
The big reason that Liverpool’s match is being overshadowed is the size of Wednesday’s other game. With Real Madrid playing PSG, we’re seeing two of the tournament favourites going head to head very early on in the competition. We think this one will live up to the hype, given the huge amount of talented players who are taking the field. While Real’s BBC strikeforce has seen better days, we still expect them to feature against the world’s greatest forward line.
This is mostly the same PSG side which was involved in those clashes with Barca at this stage last season, so they have a point to prove. The signing of Neymar changes the outlook of the club, they now demand a tilt at the Champions League. With Real in utter disarray at the moment, we see the French side taking a big step forward in Europe this week. We expect an away win here, with the visitors excellent value on the draw no bet market.