European football midweek preview4th Mar 2018 |
Manchester City vs Basel (Champions League)
Manchester City are another Premier League side essentially through to the quarter-finals already, with Basel standing little chance of overturning a 5-0 deficit from the first leg. Pep Guardiola’s charges were ruthless in Switzerland and will be keen to record another handsome victory at the Etihad Stadium, which looks like a realistic prospect given Basel’s minimal resistance last time out. Even if Guardiola opts to shuffle his pack, City will have too much for the visitors and should rack up more than 2.5 goals – a bet available at 7/10.
Crystal Palace vs Manchester United (Premier League)
Manchester United are by no means guaranteed a top-four finish in the Premier League this season, while Crystal Palace’s top-flight status is still hanging in the balance. There is thus plenty to play for on Monday night at Selhurst Park, where the hosts’ chances of causing an upset have been damaged by the lengthy list of injury-enforced absentees. With that in mind, Roy Hodgson is likely to take a cautious approach; given that Jose Mourinho’s men’s defensive record has been largely excellent this term, it could be worth putting some money on fewer than 2.5 goals being scored in total.
Liverpool vs Porto (Champions League)
Liverpool already have one foot in the quarter-finals following their 5-0 triumph over Porto in the first leg, and this week’s return meeting is simply about completing the job in front of their own supporters. Jurgen Klopp may rest one or two of his usual starters but will otherwise name a strong side, which makes it difficult to look past another comfortable Reds victory. Porto will be determined to avoid another thrashing and could adopt a mindset of damage limitation, but I do think they have enough about them to find the net, so consider backing a home win with both teams to score at 19/10.
Paris Saint-Germain vs Real Madrid (Champions League)
The heavyweight tie of the Champions League round of 16 is still in the balance, although holders Real Madrid are now strong favourites to advance after their 3-1 triumph at the Santiago Bernabeu. PSG will have to dig deep if they are to overturn that two-goal deficit, but question marks remain about their collective organisation and mental strength. Madrid should get the job done here and their counter-attacking prowess could see them draw first blood, with Cristiano Ronaldo a good choice to open the scoring in the French capital.
Tottenham Hotspur vs Juventus (Champions League)
Tottenham got off to the worst possible start in last month’s first leg, going 2-0 down inside 10 minutes to significantly reduce their chances of progression to the last eight. Mauricio Pochettino’s men fought back brilliantly, though, scoring twice to level the scores and dominating for the rest of the match. Spurs therefore find themselves in a promising position ahead of the Wembley leg, but a team of Juventus’ quality and experience should not be written off. A flutter on another draw at a price of 49/20 could prove worthwhile.
Milan vs Arsenal (Europa League)
There was considerable excitement when these two teams were drawn together in the last 16 of the Europa League, with Milan and Arsenal widely considered among the favourites – alongside the likes of Borussia Dortmund and Atletico Madrid – to win the trophy. The two clubs are at low ebbs at present and winning the Europa League, while a worthy prize in itself, offers the best route for both to secure a place in next season’s edition of the Champions League. Arsene Wenger may opt to field his strongest XI, something he has not always done in this tournament, but Milan are much improved under Rino Gattuso and I fancy a home win in this first leg.