It’s been a long wait but the Champions League is back with a bang on Tuesday and Wednesday as the round of 16 gets underway. The knockout stages bring together the elite clubs in Europe and this week’s action includes some incredible matches including Real Madrid vs PSG and Juventus vs Tottenham Hotspur.
It’s been a hugely disappointing domestic season so far for Real Madrid. They trail Barcelona in La Liga by a massive 17 points and with the title as good as lost, a third consecutive Champions League is the ultimate prize for the Galacticos. Cristiano Ronaldo was back in his best form with a hat-trick against Real Sociedad last time out in the Primera Division, and he could be crucial to Real’s chances as they host PSG. The French club is one of the up-and-coming forces in European football and boasts a formidable forward line including Cavani, Mbappe, and former Barcelona frontman Neymar. In short, this match should be unmissable viewing for football fans – despite the fact that the fixture falls on Valentine’s day!
On Tuesday two of England’s in-form clubs take to the field, with Spurs away at Juventus and Manchester City on the road in Basel. The former has by far the most difficult contest against last season’s losing finalist Juventus, but Tottenham showed in the group stages against Real Madrid that they are not fazed by the European elite. Fresh from a North London derby win over Arsenal, Harry Kane and co. will travel to Italy to take on a side on a run of 11 straight victories.
Manchester City thumped Leicester 5-1 in the Premier League on Saturday, with Sergio Aguero helping himself to a four-goal haul. Pep Guardiola’s side will see this tie as very winnable particularly over two legs. Basel overperformed in the group stages to qualify behind Manchester United and ahead of CSKA Moscow and Benfica, but this fixture is arguably stretching the limit of the Swiss side’s talent.
Our first bet of the round is over 3.5 goals when Real host PSG at odds of +115 with 888Sport.
These two sides are never short on goals and this tie has all the ingredients to be an explosive encounter. Four of the last five Real Madrid fixtures have exceeded the 3.5 goal line – the other a shock 2-1 home defeat to Leganes in the Copa del Rey. Three of PSG’s last five have also had four or more goals and they are currently head and shoulders above all challengers in Ligue 1, leading by twelve points.
It hasn’t been a vintage season for Portugal captain Ronaldo but he was back to his devastating best against Sociedad last weekend, notching yet another hat-trick in the famous white colors. He will come up against an old Barca enemy in Neymar on Wednesday night – the Brazilian has made a huge impact since his arrival at PSG. Cavani and Di Maria have been more than able partners in the frontline, while former Monaco starlet Mbappe will be fresh after missing games since his red card against Rennes in the Coupe de la Ligue semi-final recently.
It all adds up to what could be one of the great European nights – remember last season’s incredible Barcelona comeback versus PSG? Back goals and sit back and enjoy.
Spurs could be a shrewd bet to come away with something from their first leg tie away at Juventus, where they are quoted at -116 with 888Sport on the double chance.
Few pundits gave Tottenham much hope in a Champions League group containing Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund, but Mauricio Pochettino’s men proved more than up to the task. They topped Group H with 16 points ahead of Real, after drawing 1-1 in the Bernabeu and recording a memorable 3-1 win over the Galacticos two weeks later. Spurs also beat Dortmund home and away to qualify with the minimum of fuss. They are currently unbeaten in 12 matches, including victories over Manchester United and Arsenal and a 2-2 draw away at Liverpool.
Juventus struggled at the start of the Serie A season and still trail Napoli by a point in the Italian table, but they have won 11 games in a row and are in hot form. The last seven of those have seen the Old Lady keep clean sheets, although they haven’t faced a top seven side in Italy during that excellent defensive sequence. Juve finished second behind Barcelona in Group D but only won 3 of 6 group fixtures. While the Italian team remains one of Europe’s leading lights, they may struggle to get the better of what is becoming a very good Spurs side.
Finally, Manchester City can be backed at odds of +100 with BetVictor to beat a -1.5 Asian handicap and put this tie to bed in the first leg.
Pep Guardiola’s City side has swept away all before them in the Premier League this season and lead the table by a huge 16 points from Manchester rivals United. They are still competing on all four fronts this term and fans are dreaming of a remarkable quadruple. The Champions League will be by far the biggest test but Basel is unlikely to stand in their way over the two legs.
The Swiss side is five points adrift of Young Boys in their domestic league but performed admirably to finish second in Group A. They beat Manchester United 1-0 on this ground during that group campaign but limitations were exposed in a 2-1 defeat to CSKA in the previous home fixture.
Guardiola’s city slickers won 4-0 away at Feyernoord and 4-2 away at Napoli during the group stages, and they are more than capable of putting Basel to the sword on Tuesday night.
Real Madrid v PSG – Over 3.5 goals
Wednesday 14th February, 19:45 GMT
Tottenham or Draw – Double chance
Tuesday 13th February, 19:45 GMT
Manchester City -1.5 to beat Basel
Tuesday 13th February, 19:45 GMT