For the first time since the dawn of time, four English sides could progress to the quarter-finals of the Champions League after excellent results in the first legs of their respective last 16 ties.
Manchester United’s 0-0 draw with Sevilla offers both opportunities and threats; they will be fancied to finish the job on home soil, but an away goal for the Spaniards could prove very costly indeed.
The Red Devils will conclude their last 16 tie in the week commencing Monday March 12th, but a week hence the other set of Champions League fixtures will reach their conclusion. Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham are all in strong positions, and they will all be looking to triumph with no alarms in front of their own fans.
So where does the pick of the Champions League last 16, second leg betting value lie?
Tuesday March 6th 2018
Liverpool (5) vs (0) Porto
Jurgen Klopp seemed genuinely put out when asked if this tie was over after his side surged into a 5-0 lead. “No, of course not, why should I?” he replied.
“We came here to create the basis for the second leg at Anfield – and that’s what we did, not more, not less. I am too long in the business to think anything is sorted before the final whistle. We owe our supporters at Anfield a 100% performance and that’s what we want to deliver. That’s all.”
So punters should not expect Liverpool to take this return leg lightly, and you suspect Klopp will field a strong side given those fiery words.
FC Porto fans in Liverpool today pic.twitter.com/7inKowDQO1
— Football Stands (@TheFootyStands) March 6, 2018
How strong a starting eleven will Porto send? They will know the tie is over, and perhaps of more importance to them are domestic matters: they have a league title to win. They currently lead the Primeira Liga by five points, so it’s all to play for on that front.
On the Friday before the Liverpool game, Porto take on Sporting Lisbon in what will be a huge match in deciding where the Portuguese league title goes. So punters should have no qualms about backing the Reds, nor backing them to do so in style: Liverpool to Win & Over 2.5 Goals is available at 11/10, as is the appetising Liverpool -1 at 27/20.
PSG (1) vs (3) Real Madrid
The task facing PSG is almost impossible here: to win this tie, they must surely keep a clean sheet here and then go and score two or more goals themselves.
It’s not impossible, of course, but then this is a Real Madrid side that has scored three or more goals in six of their last seven matches! Zinedine Zidane’s men have very much gotten their mojo back, and while they are conceding too, their appetite for goals ensures they will probably find the net at least once in Paris.
PSG, meanwhile, blasted 15 goals in three home matches in the Champions League group phase, so clearly they can’t be discounted either.
All three results feel eminently possible in this second leg, and there will be plenty of support for Real with a +1.00 Asian handicap at 4/5. But it might just be wise to let the result take care of itself, and instead back a barn-burner to unfold with Over 3.5 Goals available at even money.
Wednesday March 7th 2018
Manchester City (4) v (0) Basel
“An excellent result. We are almost in the quarter-finals. Champions League is always 180 minutes and we will take the game seriously, but it’s an excellent result.”
Pep Guardiola wasn’t quite as forceful as Jurgen Klopp when it came to questions of had his side already won the tie, but he too intimated that he would field a strong eleven in the second leg despite his side holding a 4-0 lead.
Basel will have given up the ghost, however, and their aim at the City of Manchester Stadium will be to not get thrashed. They lost 0-3 at Old Trafford in the group phase, and that’s against a Manchester United side paralysed in attack due to Jose Mourinho’s conservative dictatorship. The prognosis for the Swiss side is not good against the more enterprising Mancunian outfit.
The task for punters in finding value is much more troublesome: City are as short as 1/7 to win. You can get 10/11 on the hosts winning both halves, which is more than fair, and after the starting line-ups are announced a few darts on anytime goalscorers is perhaps the smart way to play this one.
Tottenham (2) v (2) Juventus
Tottenham have given themselves a tremendous chance of defeating Juventus here, and anybody who watched the first leg between these two in Turin will know that Mauricio Pochettino’s men fully deserve to be in this position.
The omens for Spurs are really strong here. They more than matched the Italians on their own patch, and Wembley has been a happy hunting ground for the Londoners so far this term: they have already demolished Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund there. Add into the mix that Juve were tonked 0-3 by Barcelona at the Nou Camp in the group phase, and Tottenham fans can have every confidence in their side here.
The hosts are a tad short at 11/10 for our liking though: the Italians came back into the tie in the second half of the first leg, and at times looked very dangerous. We would be inclined to suggest a more tactical, low scoring contest will ensue – either side can qualify by winning 1-0 – and so Under 2.5 Goals is the play at 24/25.