The UEFA Champions League knockout stage gets under way on Tuesday and Shakhtar Donetsk’s geographical location means that one wants to oppose it in the first leg of its last-16 tie against German Bundesliga leader Bayern Munchen.
The predicament in which Shakhtar Donetsk finds itself is unfortunate and, realistically, it will do well to limit Bayern Munchen to a narrow win. First, the UEFA Champions League game will take place in Lviv because Donetsk is a no-go zone and Shakhtar’s Donbass Arena is unfit to host events because of structural damage that it has sustained during the conflict between Russian and Ukrainian forces. Second, Shakhtar Donetsk is in the unusual position of not topping the Ukrainian Premier League, trailing Dynamo Kyiv by five points after 14 rounds. And third, the Ukrainian Premier League is yet to resume following its winter break so Shakhtar Donetsk is short of competitive match practice.
Bayern Munchen knows only too well how difficult it is to hit the ground running because its first post-Christmas game in the German Bundesliga resulted in a 1-4 loss at Wolfsburg when Josep Guardiola’s side leaked the same number of goals in one match that it has leaked in its first 17 matches in that competition. Bayern Munchen has got its act together lately, with its latest German Bundesliga game ending in an 8-0 home victory over Hamburg. The signs are ominous.
Shakhtar Donetsk did not reach last term’s UEFA Champions League knockout stage and its participation in the UEFA Europa League did not last long. Shakhtar Donetsk played Plzen in a tie before the Ukrainian Premier League had resumed and Czech team triumphed 3-2 on aggregate, sealing its progress with a 2-1 victory at the Donbass Arena.
Bayern Munchen is the hottest favourite in this week’s four UEFA Champions League matches and rightly so. One believes that Bayern Munchen will beat Shakhtar Donetsk in Lviv at odds of 2/51.40-2500.40-2.500.40 with Bet365, thereby clearing its route to the last eight of the UEFA Champions League for another season.
Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea met during last term’s UEFA Champions League and PSG, after winning 3-1 at home, were a few minutes away from eliminating the Blues on aggregate when Demba Ba scored at Stamford Bridge. Paris Saint-Germain has won each of its last half a dozen UEFA Champions League home games, with its scalps including Barcelona, Chelsea and Leverkusen, and it is on a nine-match unbeaten run across all tournaments since giving up a 0-2 lead at Bastia.
One would be surprised if Chelsea played adventurously away to Paris Saint-Germain because Blues boss Jose Mourinho’s tactics in such scenarios are usually negative. Chelsea had the supposed advantage of playing away from home first in each of its three UEFA Champions League ties last term and the Blues drew 1-1 at Galatasaray, lost 1-3 at Paris Saint-Germain and drew 0-0 at Atletico Madrid.
Chelsea is a potential UEFA Champions League winner so one does not want to take a huge set against it, however, the odds available about Paris Saint-Germain on the draw-no-bet market appeal. Coral is offering odds of 19/201.95-1050.95-1.050.95 about Paris Saint-Germain, while PSG is trading at odds of 41/1001.41-2440.41-2.440.41 with 888sport and Unibet not to lose to Chelsea.
Real Madrid will be a popular pick at short odds to defeat Schalke in the UEFA Champions League last-16 first leg in Gelsenkirchen, not least because the Meringues won 6-1 at the same venue at the same stage of last season’s event.
Sure, Real Madrid ought to have too much firepower for what is the German Bundesliga’s fourth-best side but one would prefer to back Bayern Munchen at almost identical odds.
With regards to UEFA Champions League exotics, the best bet is Shakhtar Donetsk to have more cards points than Bayern Munchen. Bayern Munchen is cleaner than the house of a janitor with obsessive compulsive disorder, averaging 9.76 cards points in the German Bundesliga and 14.17 cards points in the UEFA Champions League. Shakhtar Donetsk is averaging 20.71 cards points in the Ukrainian Premier League and 26.67 cards points in the UEFA Champions League. Bookmakers will get around to posting their odds on this exotic market.
Bayern to beat Shakhtar Donetsk
17th February 19:45 GMT
Where to Bet: Bet365
PSG to beat Chelsea (Draw No Bet)
17th February 19:45 GMT
Where to Bet: Coral
Shakhtar to have more cards than Bayern
17th February 19:45 GMT
Where to Bet: TBC
Eric has been a sports journalist for over 20 years and has travelled the world covering top sporting events for a number of publications. He also has a passion for betting and uses his in-depth knowledge of the sports world to pinpoint outstanding odds and value betting opportunities.
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