After sixty-eight days of rest, one of the biggest ‘loves’ of football fans the world over, the UEFA Champions League, returns with its knockout stage on the day generally set aside to celebrate love, How romantic is that?
The UEFA Champions League will not be the only football competition making a long awaited return this midweek as its ‘poor sibling’ the Europa League will also be back on our TV Screens. Using the word ‘poor’ to describe the competition is only in comparison to the Champions League because of the fact that the UCL is the richest sporting event in the world. The Europa league is far from as it’s among the top ten richest sporting events in the world and should not be scoffed at. I will be previewing all four of this midweek’s UCL matches and I will also give out my betting tips on all twenty fixtures that will take place in both European tournaments this midweek to aid you place your bets on www.nairabet.com
PSG vs. BARCELONA
PSG will host Barcelona with plans of showing no love to the Catalans in the city of love in one of the two games that will be played tonight in the UCL. The Parisians have been knocked out of this competition twice by Barcelona in the past four editions and they would not want to suffer the same fate for a third time. Luck should be on the French side as they have never lost any of their previous Champions League last 16 ties, having won all four of them. They are currently in second place in ligue 1, three points behind Monaco and are unbeaten in seven games, winning six of them. Barcelona have a very decent record in France, having won more than they have lost and against PSG, they will be hoping to leave Paris with at least a draw. The Blaugrana are on a three game winning streak against PSG and that will give them the added morale going into this tie. They were also in ruthless form over the weekend destroying Alaves 6-0 in La Liga. These teams have met seven times in the past with just one win for PSG and four for Barca. For this fixture, a double chance bet on PSG at odds of 1.66 on www.nairabet.com will be advisable and a bet of over 2.5 goals
BENFICA vs. DORTMUND
The other game that will take place tonight in the UCL will be between Benfica and Dortmund in Portugal. The Portuguese giants reached the knockout stages after finishing second in their Group with eight points. They lost home and away to Napoli, beat Dynamo Kiev home and away and recorded a pair of draws against Besiktas. They have a fantastic home record this season, picking up fourteen wins and three draws from their eighteen matches in all competitions at the Estádio da Luz. They have won seven of their last nine matches in the league, with just one loss. Their opponents today, Borussia Dortmund, won their group ahead of eleven time champions, Real Madrid and were unbeaten raking up four wins and two draws, both coming against Madrid. They have been scoring for fun in this season’s UCL, piling up twenty one goals in the group stage, with fourteen of those coming two legs against Legia Warsaw. Their surprise defeat to Darmstadt this past weekend ended their eight match unbeaten run in the league. These sides have met just once in a UEFA Competition and that was in the 1963/64 European Champion Clubs Cup. Benfica won the first leg 2-1, but were thrashed 5-0 by Dortmund in the return leg to overturn the deficit. The Portuguese team have a solid home record against German opposition with ten wins, eight draws and two losses from twenty games, while Dortmund have lost on three and won on two of their five visits to Portugal. Benfica will be looking to take an advantage into the second leg in Germany and will fancy their chances of getting a win tonight at home. My betting tips for this game will be a double chance bet on Benfica and over 2.5 goals.
BAYERN MUNICH vs. ARSENAL
Arsenal have not progressed beyond this stage since 2010 and to break that barren spell, they will need to put up their best performance of the season to get past Bayern Munich. The first leg of this tie comes up tomorrow at the Alianz Arena and Arsenal will need to get a respectable result to stand a chance of ending their round of sixteen hoodoo. The Gunners have been knocked out at the last-16 stage for the past six seasons in a row. The Gunners haven’t lost in this season’s competition and will be hoping to leave Germany with that record intact. As for Bayern Munich, they haven’t been their usual stellar selves in the UCL this season, losing twice in the group stage, against Rostov and Atletico Madrid. They won their four other fixtures to finish second behind Atletico. The Bavarians have been impressive in the league, winning ten of their last thirteen league games and leading the league with seven points. They also haven’t lost at home this season and will not want to start now. Franck Ribery might return from a hamstring injury in time to for this game, while Jerome Boateng remains sidelined with a shoulder problem. This should be a very interesting encounter as there is a lot at stake for both teams. A Bayern win and over 2.5 are my betting tips for this match.
REAL MADRID vs. NAPOLI
Eleven-time winners, Real Madrid will entertain Italian side Napoli at the Santiago Bernabeu tomorrow evening in the first leg of their round of sixteen clash. It wasn’t an ideal scenario for Madrid in the group stage as they were upstaged by Dortmund and finshed second in the group. The draw against Legia Warsaw was the result that really cost los Galacticos and in the final group game, having led Borussia Dortmund 2-0 at home they conceded two late goals to draw that game and finish the group in second place. Napoli were in a very tight group and entering the final group match away to Benfica, there was a chance they could win the group or be eliminated from the competition and they ensured they finished top of the group with a 2-1 win in Portugal. This will be the first time the teams have met in the Champions League and it will be a return to their old club for Raul Albiol and Jose Callejon. Real are the defending champions and have won two of the last three competitions so will be the heavy favourites to win this tie. I will advise on a bet of a Real Madrid win and over 2.5 goals
We will have our fill of European fixtures this midweek and it will feel even better with money in your pockets as you enjoy twenty matches bet from today through Thursday. I will leave you with betting tips for the Europa League fixtures below that will guide you as you place your bets on www.nairabet.com. Remember that these games are just the first leg fixtures and in a fortnight, the reverse fixtures will come up and I will preview them for you.
Krasnodar vs. Fenerbahçe (Double chance for Fenerbahce)
Olympiakos Piraeus vs. Osmanlıspor (Olympiakos win)
Astra vs. Genk (Double chance for Genk)
Ludogorets vs. København (Double chance for Ludogorets)
Celta de Vigo vs. Shakhtar Donetsk (Over 1.5 goals)
Gent vs. Tottenham (Double chance for Tottenham)
Rostov vs. Sparta Praha (Double chance for Rostov)
Borussia M’gladbach vs. Fiorentina (Over 1.5 goals)
AZ vs. Olympique Lyonnais (Double chance for AZ)
Manchester United vs. Saint-Etienne (Manchester United win)
PAOK vs. Schalke 04 (Double chance for Schalke)
Athletic Club vs. APOEL (Athletic win)
Legia Warszawa vs. Ajax (Double chance for Legia)
Villareal vs. Roma (Over 1.5 goals)
Anderlecht vs. Zenit (Over 2.5 goals)
Hapoel Be’er Sheva vs. Beşiktas (Double chance for Hapoel)