The Champions League has reached the last 16 stage of the competition and this week we have four of the games starting off, with the first legs taking place. It is at this stage where teams will genuinely think they have a chance of winning the trophy, and a win will put them right in the mix to lift the most prestigious trophy in Europe.
We have three British teams competing this weekend, with Tottenham, Manchester City and Liverpool all playing, however, it is the game they are not involved in that may attract the most interest. PSG travel to face Real Madrid in a game that could signal the changing of the guard in European football. Madrid have dominated or being close to the top for a very long time now, but PSG are aiming to dethrone them, and continue to spend money to better themselves. We will see how far PSG have come over the past two years, and see if they are ready to challenge.
The remaining four ties will begin next week, and with only half of the clubs in action, this is a chance for someone to lay down a marker and show they are legitimate contenders to the rest of Europe. If anyone is likely to do that this week, it looks to be Manchester City, but what about the game in Spain, can Real Madrid show their might over an ever-improving PSG team?
We will find plenty out this week, but this is just the first of four-game weeks where ultimately we will find out who will be the eight teams making it to the Champions League quarter finals. The stage is set, and now it is up to the teams to see who wants it the most.
Basel vs Manchester City – Manchester City win
Juventus vs Tottenham – Draw
Porto vs Liverpool – Draw
Real Madrid vs PSG – Real Madrid win
Basel vs Manchester City – Tuesday, 19:45 BT Sport 3
Of the English clubs, Manchester City have arguably got the easiest draw at this stage and should be very confident ahead of their trip to Basel. The fixtures are beginning to pile up for City, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see them go all out to try and win this tie in the first leg. That would mean going away to Basel and attacking, to take a nice lead home with them, but they are more than capable of doing that against the Swiss side.
While many of the other games look to be relatively close and should set up great second legs, the same cannot be said about this one. We have a big gulf in class between the two sides, and I can only see one team winning this one, and that is Manchester City.
Juventus vs Tottenham – Tuesday, 19:45 BT Sport 2
This game should have plenty of goals in it, with both teams enjoying the attacking side of the game. However, Tottenham may look to be a little more cautious than they normally are, in an attempt to take something from the game, and look to win it in the second leg. I think Tottenham have the ability to win the game but don’t believe they will be looking to do that, so the likely outcome here is a draw.
Juventus are an interesting team, and they certainly have the attacking players in their squad to trouble Tottenham, but Spurs are playing some good football right now. This should be entertaining, we may see Tottenham defend a little more than they normally do, and the outcome, in the end, looks like it could be a draw, which would give Tottenham the upper hand going into the second leg.
Porto vs Liverpool – Wednesday, 19:45 BT Sport 2
Liverpool look to have the upper hand in this one over two legs, but going away to Porto can be tricky and the Portuguese team will know their hopes rest on getting something from the first leg. In contrast to that, Liverpool know that they can afford to take a draw here and go back to Anfield, where they would be strong favourites to reach the next round.
In a similar story to the Tottenham game, Liverpool have the attacking ability to go to Portugal and win this, but they may play a little more cautious than normal, and be happy to take the draw home. Porto must attack to try and get something from the game, but ultimately I think they will fail to do so, and the game will end in a draw.
Real Madrid vs PSG – Wednesday, 19:45 BT Sport 3
This is a clash that could signal PSG beginning to take over European football. They have spent big to try and win on the biggest stage of them all, and this is certainly their toughest task to date. They showed glimpses of brilliance in the group stages, and I expect we will see more from them over the next two games.
Real Madrid have been there and done it before, they know what it takes to win this competition and that experience can help them take the first leg. As far as the neutrals go, a slender lead for Real Madrid would be the perfect scenario for the second leg, with PSG at home and having to attack. That is what I think will happen, while PSG are improving, I don’t think they quite have it in them to go to Real Madrid and get anything from the game.
This should attract huge interest, even though it is the only game without a British team in it, and it should be a special one to watch. I am backing the experience of Real Madrid to come out on top and win the first leg.
This looks to be a great week for betting for those who like to look for value. We have just one odds-on favourite in this week’s games, showing just how tight the competition is at this stage. Manchester City are the only odds-on favourites of the week, they are 4/11 to win away at Basel.
The other three games are very tight, and all three favourites are odds against. On Tuesday, Juventus are favourites to win their game against Tottenham, with the Italian side quoted at 21/20, and Tottenham around a 7/2 chance, which some people may see as value.
On Wednesday, bookmakers are finding it tough to split Real Madrid and PSG in the game of the week. Madrid are favoured slightly because they are the home team, they are 6/4, while PSG can be backed at 9/5 in a game that is sure to attract a lot of interest from those betting. Liverpool are favourites for their game on Wednesday and can be backed at 6/4 to win away in Porto, with the home team available at 11/10 to take the win.
Juventus vs Tottenham – 50/1 a goal to be scored with Ladbrokes
Those who are looking to open a new betting account this week should head over to Ladbrokes and take a look at this offer they have running. They are offering 50/1 for there to be a goal scored in the tie between Juventus and Tottenham. We all know just how attacking these two teams are, and there are sure to be goals scored in this tie. This represents great value and is open to new customers who open up a Ladbrokes account this week.
Juventus vs Tottenham – Double winnings as a free bet if your team wins both halves with Coral
Coral are also offering something for the Juventus vs Tottenham game this week, although this is open to anyone, new or existing customers. They are offering double winning, with the additional amount as a free bet on bets for either Juventus or Tottenham to win the game. You will receive double winnings if your chosen team wins both halves of the game. If you are thinking of backing either team in the game, this gives you a chance to win double, so it makes sense to bet with Coral.
Double Delight & Hat-Trick Heaven on First Goal Scorer bets with Betfred
If you are looking to place a bet on a player to score first then it makes sense to go to Betfred. Their double delight/hat-trick heaven promotion is running on the following two Champions League games this week:
Juventus vs Tottenham
Porto vs Liverpool
Place a bet on a player to score first in these games and if he does, you will have a winning bet. However, if the player goes on and scores again, you will be paid out at double the odds. Should your player get a third, you will be paid at treble the odds, giving you great value if this lands. It makes sense to place these bets with Betfred if it is something you are doing this week.