Wednesday 10th March 2021
In Across the Leagues today:
When Juventus signed Cristiano Ronaldo in 2018, it was clear that he was brought in to help the Old Lady win the Champions League…
It hasn’t worked out that way yet. For the second season running, Juve were dumped out in the Last 16 – losing on away goals in extra time v Porto last night.
Will we see more Champions League drama tonight? There’s certainly a script for it…
8pm, BT Sport
Liverpool are 2-0 up on aggregate. Due to coronavirus travel restrictions this ‘home’ leg is being played in Budapest, as was the 1st leg. That might be a blessing, seeing as the Reds have just lost six in a row at Anfield.
RB Leipzig continue to impress in Germany. If you take out the European loss to Liverpool, the Red Bull club have won eight domestic games in a row.
So, what price the comeback? Leipzig will need at least two away goals. A 2-0 win for the Germans will take it to extra time. In the To Qualify market, the bookies make them 11/2 (6.5) to turn over the 1st leg result, and reach the quarter finals.
There’s certainly a case to oppose out-of-form Liverpool. But on the other hand, the Champions League is all Jurgen Klopp’s side have left to play for this season. Pundits are only speaking half tongue-in-cheek when they say the Reds might have to win the Champions League this season to make sure that they’re in it, next season.
My opinion? Liverpool will just about steady the ship to hold out here – but it won’t be pretty. They were the better team in the 1st leg.
8pm, BT Sport
Now things get really interesting. This fixture has provided some epic Champions League drama in recent times…
This is the fourth occasion that these clubs have met in the knockout rounds since 2012/13.
In 2016/17, the classic one was Barcelona’s amazing comeback, having lost the 1st leg 4-0 in Paris. The Spaniards turned it over in spectacular style in the home leg, eventually taking it 6-1 on the night.
This time, Barcelona are 4-1 down – and the 2nd leg is away…
PSG have four away goals to dine out on. And while Neymar and Moise Kean are out tonight, the main man in attack is Kylian Mbappe – and he scored a hat-trick in the 1st leg, taking home the match ball.
My take on this one is, even if you add in the potential PSG ‘choke’ factor, it’s hard to see this current Barca outfit pulling this one out of the fire. Even if Lionel Messi has got his magician’s boots on.
Four wins in a row in Spain will give some hope for the romantics. If you’re in the comeback camp, the best price on Barcelona To Qualify requires shopping around for. It’s 24/1 with the Smarkets Sportsbook (app-only online bookie), and 20/1 with BetVictor. But as short as 10/1 with Skybet, and just 9/1 with Betway.
I’m going with the head and not the heart for this one, and that means backing Mbappe to inflict more misery on the Barca defence:
There’s also a smattering of league fixtures today…
In the Premier League, Southampton should beware the wounded animal effect when they travel to the Etihad (6pm, Sky Sports)…
Manchester City’s phenomenal 21-game winning streak came to an end on Sunday, beaten 0-2 at home by rivals Manchester United.
The last time City lost a league game, they won the next one, 5-0…
Southampton have made an unwanted name for themselves with not one but two 9-0 defeats in the past two seasons.
City are just 1/5 (1.2) to win. This certainly looks like a game where you might want to pick out a big Correct Score. Paddy Power make it 200/1 for another 9-0 destruction. Bet365 are 20/1 for a 5-0 home win.
My last game of interest today is in Spain…
Atletico Madrid v Athletic Bilbao
6pm, Premier Sports/ La Liga TV
Atletico v Athletic is 1st v 8th in La Liga. The Cards & Bookings stats catch the eye in this one…
One player to mention is the Bilbao veteran, Raul Garcia. As highlighted a few weeks back, he’s got a better than 50-50 record in recent times for scoring and/ or being carded:
The 34-year takes penalties. And has been booked in two of his last three starts against Atletico Madrid. He’s 9/5 (2.8) To Be Carded in today’s game.
Odds of 9/2 (5.5) make plenty of appeal in the Anytime Scorer market, too…
Diego Simeone’s side may be famed for keeping it tight at the back, but Atletico are a slightly more open prospect this season. The Madrid club have only kept one clean sheet in their last 10 games in all comps. And if they give Bilbao a penalty, Garcia will have the ball.
Last but not least, odds of 3/1 (4.0) for Stefan Savic To Be Carded are eye-catching. I was expecting to see him half that price. The Atletico defender is the most-carded man in La Liga this season, with 11 yellow cards.
Overall, the 30-year-old has picked up 15 yellows in 33 games for club & country this season. That’s a significant 45% strike-rate. If you’d been able to back Savic at 3/1 in each of those games, then your level-stakes, season-to-date ROI on him would be 82%.
From the analysis above, here are my picks for today…
PSG v Barcelona:
Atletico Madrid v Athletic Bilbao:
The European action continues tomorrow, with a full round of Europa League ties…
Enjoy the football…