Another round of Champions League matches grace our screens this week as the round of sixteen first legs are completed. We hit three winning bets from three tips in last week’s games and are aiming to make it another profitable Tuesday and Wednesday night in the elite competition.
The standout tie on Tuesday night is between Chelsea and Barcelona, with the Blues hosting the Spanish League leaders at Stamford Bridge. The temptation for some will be to lump on Barca but here’s an interesting stat – Chelsea are unbeaten against the Catalan side in seven Champions League meetings, dating back to a 2-1 home defeat in 2006 when Samuel Eto’o scored the winner.
Antonio Conte’s Premier League champions have failed to reach the heights this term and are currently 4th in the table, battling for a place in next season’s competition. By contrast, Barca are seven points clear of Atletico Madrid in La Liga and look overwhelming favourites to take the title. It promises to be a cracking match for the neutral on Tuesday night and the best value might be in backing goals.
The same can be said of Shakhtar and Roma, with the former hosting the latter on Wednesday night. Due to the political situation, the Ukranian side cannot play home matches in Donetsk and have temporarily relocated to Kharkiv since early 2017 (having previously played in Lviv from 2014). However, that hasn’t stopped them putting up some impressive performances in this year’s Champions League, such as wins over Napoli and Manchester City at the group stage.
Also on Wednesday, Manchester United face a trip to Sevilla – the five-time Europa League winners – which drew twice with Liverpool in this year’s Champions League group stage. Jose Mourinho is a past-master at these two-legged European ties but Sevilla are rarely beaten on home ground, and this is an evenly-balanced match.
First up it’s the big one and odds of -149 with 888Sport about both teams finding the net at Stamford Bridge appear more than fair.
Antonio Conte has a difficult task here because he will be well aware that going to the Nou Camp without something to protect is a very tough task. Chelsea’s best chance of getting through the tie will be to make the most of home advantage, but a gung-ho approach could easily lead to them being unstuck by Barca’s incredible attack. The Blues are expected to be mindful of keeping it tight at the back but they must surely try to score goals so they have something to take with them to Spain in two weeks.
Barcelona may be slightly easier to read in the sense that they only have one way of playing. The idea of sitting back and playing defensively is never on the agenda. Messi and Suarez were joined at the Nou Camp by Coutinho in January, and although the former Liverpool man has had few appearances, he scored his first goal for the club in the Copa del Rey semi-final win over Valencia.
Chelsea have made a good habit of keeping clean sheets at home recently, but very few sides keep Barca out for 90 minutes. Both teams have scored in 10 of the last 13 meetings between the sides and it would be no surprise to see that happen again.
The draw could be the best value when Man United visit Sevilla, with odds of +230 quoted by BetVictor.
In the past, Jose Mourinho’s general tactics in European ties have seen him adopt a pragmatic approach away from home, before allowing his teams to open up on home ground. There is little to suggest he will take a different approach here – particularly with Sevilla’s outstanding home record in mind. In the group stages United won away at CSKA and Benfica, but were beaten 1-0 in Switzerland by Basel. An away goal would be very beneficial, but the Red Devils would be confident of a strong result at Old Trafford if they came away with a draw.
Sevilla will be looking to win this home tie, giving themselves the best opportunity to get through over two legs, but United are formidable opponents. The Spanish club have only been beaten once at home in La Liga this season – a surprise 5-3 defeat to Betis – but they have been held on a number of occasions, including by Liverpool in the group stage. What they did show in that memorable game was a never-say-die attitude, fighting back from 3-0 down against the Reds to draw 3-3. Sevilla also drew 2-2 away at Anfield in the group stage, and that gives a fair indication of their ability.
Neither of these two sides will want to give much away and the draw is a decent bet at good odds.
Finally, both teams to score when Roma visit Shakhtar is a solid bet at odds of -137 with BetVictor.
Roma demonstrated their ability by drawing 3-3 away at Chelsea in the group stage before thumping them 3-0 in the return fixture in Rome. Shakhtar also showed they are not to be taken lightly, beating Napoli and Manchester City in their native Ukraine. It was a good achievement to come through the group with Man City ahead of the Serie A high-flyers, and Shakhtar will be looking to gain an advantage with the home win here. Roma also performed well to win their group ahead of Chelsea and Atletico Madrid and will be well aware of the importance of an away goal.
Both team regularly score goals and neither is renowned for clean sheets, so both to score is a great bet on Wednesday night.
Chelsea v Barcelona – Both teams to score
Tuesday 20th February, 19:45 GMT
Sevilla and Manchester United to Draw
Wednesday 21st February, 19:45 GMT
Shakhtar v Roma – Both teams to score
Wednesday 21st February, 19:45 GMT
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