UEFA Champions League betting preview
The Champions League break between the group stages and the round of 16 has only entered its second month, but it feels like it’s been ages since the last matches in the groups were played. With the first elimination matches being played on the 16th February, there is still around a month to go until the fun starts again. In the meantime we can look at the pairs and try to make some predictions.
KAA Gent vs. Wolfsburg
Gent are the surprise package in this year’s round of 16 and if there was one club they probably fancied being drawn against than it was probably Wolfsburg.
It’s almost as if they went to South Africa and paid a visit to http://www.yeboyescasino.co.za, one of their best online casinos, and predicted the correct number when playing the roulette.
However, the proverbial ‘be careful what you wish for’ might turn out to be quite true in the case of Gent. Wolfsburg are an extremely difficult opponent to beat, and their only two defeats in the group were tight affairs that could have gone either way. In Manchester they missed a handful of clear cut chances and in Eindhoven two lapses in concentration in the second half cost them the points.
If Gent are going to stop them they’ll have to play patiently and close down shop. Wolfsburg probably won’t be going all attack in the first game as well, and that’s why I’m going for Under 2.5 goals in this game.
Goals Over/Under: Under 2.5 goals – 9/10
AS Roma vs. Real Madrid
Rudi Garcia’s AS Roma face Zinedine Zidan’s Real Madrid in the battle of the two French coaches with completely different seasons so far.
Rudi Garcia was on the brink of getting fired by the Italian giants, but somehow managed to save his skin in the last minute and is now almost certain to lead his team against Real Madrid and their newly appointed manager.
As everyone probably knows by now, Roma have managed to advance to the knock out stages with only 6 points, the lowest points tally of any team to ever pass the group stages. They have also conceded 16 goals in matches against BATE Borisov, Barcelona and Bayer Leverkusen, which is the highest conceded goals total of any team which has qualified for the round of 16.
Based on this, and on Roma’s poor performances this season, the best bet for this game is to probably go for the handicap win from Real, who should have no problem destroying a below-than-average AS Roma.
Handicap result: Real Madrid (-1) – 11/5
Paris Saint-Germain vs. Chelsea
One of the three most interesting match-ups in the knockout round will be played in Paris and London. These two sides have had a lot of matches to get to know each other in recent years, with Chelsea eliminating PSG in the quarter finals two years ago, and getting eliminated in last year’s round of 16 when their return game went into extra time.
This year Chelsea have had an abysmal season and are currently closer to the relegation zone than to the Champions League places in their domestic championship, while PSG are cruising to probably another Ligue 1 title.
The Champions League however, is a different story. It’s a do or die competition in which the winner can be decided by the smallest of margins and the favorite doesn’t always win.
Chelsea’s squad has finally started to perform, and with the Champions League title being the only path to securing a place in the competition for next year, one thinks that the Blues will do all within their powers to win this one.
To Qualify: Chelsea – 5/4
Arsenal vs. Barcelona
This is the football purist’s dream match-up. For many years now Arsenal and Barcelona have put a lot of focus on the way they play football. Obviously, Barcelona have had much more success by playing ‘the right way’, but Arsenal have also started to collect more points by playing their possession-based type of football. In fact, this season their form in the Premier League has been so impressive that now they are the favourites to win it.
Unfortunately for Arsenal, Barcelona has Neymar and Suarez playing the best football in their careers, and a little fellow by the name of Messi helping from behind.
That’s why I’m going for Barcelona to win in London. In addition, since this Barcelona team is so obviously head and shoulders above the competition, and is quite possibly the best team in football history, I’m also tipping them to win the whole thing come May.
Full time result: 2 – 3/4
To win outright: Barcelona – 5/2
Juventus vs. Bayern Munich
At the moment of writing Juventus are on a run of 9 straight wins in Serie A. They have really managed to turn a terrible start of the season into a miraculous comeback. If they continue playing in this vain, I wouldn’t be surprised if they overpower the Bavarian giants and spoil Pep’s parting season.
To Qualify: Juventus – 11/4
PSV Eindhoven vs. Atletico Madrid
Atletico Madrid are one of the worst team to face in the knockout rounds of the CL. They are organized, disciplined, compact, and have an incredibly quick transition from defence to attack.
PSV are a good team, but they are no match for Simeone’s well drilled team and a victory for the outfit from Vicente Calderon in both matches surely beckons.
When you couple that with the interesting statistic that out of the 28 competitive matches Atletico have played so far this season, 8 have finished in a 2-0 victory for Atletico, you come to the conclusion that this has actually been the score in 30% of Atleti’s matches. That can continue in this match as well.
Correct score: 0-2 – 7/1
Benfica vs. Zenit St. Petersburg
This one is probably the most difficult match-up to predict, with both of the teams pretty evenly matched.
Zenit were very impressive in the group stages and were one of the first teams to secure qualification. Their attacking play was particularly good and they managed to score 13 goals.
Benfica weren’t as emphatic in their group, but still managed to finish 5 points clear of third placed Galatasaray and scored 10 goals in doing so.
This leads me to believe that both teams are likely to score in the first leg.
Both teams to score: Yes – 10/11
Dynamo Kiev vs. Manchester City
This season, City seem able to produce when it matters most and deliver under pressure. That’s the hallmark of a team which won’t end its journey in the round of 16.
Dynamo are a decent side, but this is as far as they can go.
Full time result: 2 – 11/10
Sources: uefa.com / fcbarcelona.com