After an up and down weekend with some late goals costing us, I’m going in to the midweek UCL games looking to continue my good run in the competition after 2/2 last week. I have posted these earlier than usual to give you more time to get involved if you choose to.
Arsenal v Bayern Munich (Tuesday)
Arsenal’s last fixture can be almost disregarded in the run up to this fixture. Wenger rested several key players with this game in mind – a tactic that certainly contributed to their 1-0 defeat at home to Blackburn Rovers. With Cazorla, Walcott and Wilshere, Podolski and Sagna likely to be back in the starting XI, they will be much stronger. Saying this however, the value absolutely lies with the away side. Bayern have been prolific away from home in the league this season (P11 W10 D1), scoring 27 and conceding just once. Their attacking line up will almost certainly have the upper hand against an Arsenal defence who have looked far from convincing for the majority of the season so far. After being rested at the weekend, Javi Martinez will likely come back in to partner Schweinsteiger in the middle of the park. Attacking options for Bayern are impressive, and whichever combination Heynckes opts for here should be enough to cause the home side some serious problems. I think the Germans will be too much for Arsenal here. 2-0 away win.
Porto v Malaga (Tuesday)
Malaga are renowned for defensive strength on the road (just ask James); highlighted by 6 clean sheets away from home in the league this season. In my opinion, this trend will continue in this fixture. Being the first leg of the last 16, Malaga will be fully aware that a clean sheet in this fixture will be enough to put them in the driving seat come the second leg at home. An away goal would be ideal, but I expect them to prioritise a clean sheet. Porto are an attacking threat, and Jackson Martinez has been prolific this season, with 20 goals in 19 appearances. They aren’t always the most efficient in front of goal though. Take their last home game as an example, 1-1 draw with a lowly Olhanese where they had over 70% possession, over 25 shots but could only score the one goal. This highlights that they can sometimes struggle to break down a team that sits back and focuses on not conceding. I think this is a great value bet based on the circumstances. I almost think that an early Malaga goal could improve the value of this bet, with them even more content to defend a 1-0 lead, thus leaving them more compact and tough to break down. The might snatch it here, but I’ll go for a 0-0 prediction.
Galatasaray v Schalke (Wednesday)
This is my best value bet of this UCL round. Given form, match importance and current squad strength I genuinely believe these odds are well off the mark. I’m as happy backing Galatasaray as I am to bet against Schalke getting anything from this game. On the road, they are now without a win in 6, and only managed a point at the weekend thanks to a late Bastos goal. He has been a great addition to their squad, and was much needed after losing Holtby to Spurs. However, he alone cannot bring this Schalke team to the quality needed to progress in this tournament. Their current league position highlights this. Galatasaray have pulled out all the stops over the winter break and their squad is solid. Even excluding the signings of Drogba and Sneijder, the side have goals in them, and a squad strength that should see them take a decent advantage in to the second leg. Win to Nil looks good in my opinion, but there is a chance of an away goal. 2-0 correct score
Milan v Barcelona (Wednesday)
Unfortunately for AC Milan, their new signing and spark in their attacking line up is ineligible for this tie. Balotelli played for Man City so can’t feature for AC this season, and he will be missed as his 4 goals in three Serie A games have been vital in their domestic resurgence. Saying this however, they still have plenty of attacking threats and on their day can cause any side problems. However, in this instance, I don’t believe they will have enough to get anything against a Barcelona side who have scored in every away fixture since their 1-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge in April of last year (19 games). With several players rested in their 2-1 win at Grenada at the weekend, they will be fresh and at full strength, fronted by a Lionel Messi who has scored in each of his last 16 league games (26 in 16). With one clean sheet in their last 8 at home, Milan will likely concede again; and against such a strong attacking line up I’d be surprised if they didn’t concede 2+, hence the bet. I think a 3-0 away win here, with Barcelona keeping the home side quiet and dominating throughout.
Terry’s Champions League Tips
Arsenal v Bayern – Bayern Win (2.10 – Bet Victor)
Porto v Malaga – Under 2.25 Goals (2.00 – Bet365)
Galatasaray v Schalke – Galatasary Win (2.30 – Blue Square)
AC Milan v Barcelona – Barcelona -1.00 (1.86 – Betfair)