THERE were some huge plays in the first week of the UEFA Champions League knockout round.
With nine unanswered goals between them, EPL heavyweights Liverpool and Manchester City both made big strides towards the quarter-finals.
It was also a good week for Tottenham Hotspur, who rallied from behind to pick up two priceless away goals at Juventus.
But the result of the round came at the Santiago Bernabeu, where Real Madrid silenced their critics to take a 3-1 lead over Paris Saint-Germain.
What will happen in week two? Let’s see where the money is at Mybet.com.
Champions League accumulator tips
- Bayern to win – -666.67
- Barcelona to win – +110
- Man United to win – +150
- Shakhtar to win – +140
Bayern Munich vs. Besiktas
Tuesday, February 20 – 8:45pm CET – Allianz Arena, Munich
Bayern – -666.67
Draw – +750
Besiktas – +1700
Bayern boast experience and quality in all positions, but especially in a forward third where the likes of Arjen Robben, Frank Ribery and Thomas Muller are no longer certain starters. The giants of Germany are on a 13-game winning streak in all competitions and have not lost a game since November.
Besiktas were the best of the Turkish teams in the group phase, but can they hang with the big boys? While the likes of Vagner Love, Ricardo Quaresma, Alvaro Negredo, Gary Medel, Adriano Correia and Pepe are very accomplished players, we must remember that the Super Lig is little more than a retirement village for Europe’s elite.
From a spectator’s perspective, it would be nice to see Besiktas give Bayern a run for their money. From a punter’s point of view, it just won’t happen.
Chelsea vs. Barcelona
Tuesday, February 20 – 7:45pm GMT – Stamford Bridge, London
Chelsea – +250
Draw – +245
Barcelona – +110
What is going on at Chelsea? Less than a year after winning the Premier League title, Antonio Conte’s Blues have fallen in a heap. Their defensive setup is all out of whack right now, while the lack of a consistent scoring threat is becoming a real problem.
There are no such issues for Barcelona. The Blaugrana are flying in La Liga, where they are yet to suffer a single defeat in 24 games this season. Philippe Coutinho is cup tied after his January move from Liverpool, but Leo Messi, Luis Suarez, et al were doing pretty well without him anyway.
These two clubs have enjoyed some ripping UCL battles in the past. Although Chelsea have the home ground advantage on this occasion, Barca’s form is too good to ignore.
Sevilla vs. Manchester United
Wednesday, February 21 – 7:45pm GMT – Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, Sevilla
Sevilla – +195
Draw – +220
United – +150
Sevilla might be the finest example of a European yo-yo team. Although they have dominated the second-tier Europa League in recent times, the Rojiblancos have never quite taken that form to the business end of the Champions League. Nothing about their middling league form suggests a massive breakthrough in the offing.
These are strange times at Man United. They cannot get a run of form going under Jose Mourinho, whose pragmatic sensibilities are starting to wear thin with the Old Trafford faithful. Alexis Sanchez is settling in well, but the former Arsenal star is cup tied for the trip to Spain.
Sevilla will see an opportunity to take down a giant and make their mark. We might have sided with them if they were showing more on the domestic scene, but Mourinho and United’s big-time experience should be enough to get the job done.
Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Roma
Wednesday, February 21 – 9:45pm EET – Metalist Stadium, Karkiv
Shakhtar – +140
Draw – +230
Roma – +200
Shakhtar return to the Champions League knockout rounds for the first time in three years. The Ukrainian heavyweights have reached the quarters only once in their history, but it was Roma they beat in the round of 16 on that occasion in 2011. How far will those good omens take them?
Roma are enjoying a very solid season. Although Napoli and Juventus are locked in a two-way tussle for the Serie A title, the Giallorossi are the best of the rest and should secure another season of the UCL football. Despite a strong bid from Chelsea in January, Edin Dzeko is still the main man up forward at Stadio Olimpico.
The eastern nations are always very difficult places to play, especially at this stage of the competition. That gives Shakhtar the edge in what could be a very close tie overall.
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