Bayern v Porto
Live on Sky Sports 1
Understandably there was significant fallout at Bayern after last week’s 3-1 defeat to Porto at the Dragao. While Pep Guardiola assumed responsibility, tensions with club doctor Hans Muller-Wohlfarht reached breaking point. Blamed for Bayern’s injury crisis which has left the team without centre-back Mehdi Benatia, total footballer David Alaba and wingers Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben, he resigned.
Though compromised, Bayern still should have performed much better in Portugal. Dante, to paraphrase Franz Beckenbauer, played like he was wearing ski-boots. Xabi Alonso lost the ball too easily too close to his penalty area and Bayern really lacked width. Suspension to Porto’s full-backs Danilo and Alex Sandro should encourage them to revisit the flanks.
Since the 1970-71 campaign, only 24% of teams have qualified after a 3-1 defeat away from home in the knock-out stages of the European Cup. Bayern are still capable. They require a 2-0 win, like the one they got against Hoffenheim on Saturday.
Back Bayern 2-0 Correct Score @ [8.4]
Barcelona v PSG
Live on ITV1
Barca look irresistible at the moment. Sure at the weekend they got their approach wrong against a Valencia side that were undefeated since the beginning of February. Rodrigo had chances to put the visitors in front. Dani Parejo missed a penalty and Paco Alcacer hit the post. But it didn’t matter. Inside the first minute Lionel Messi had already slipped in Luis Suarez for the opener and then in stoppage time he scored the 400th goal of his club career. It was the Blaugrana’s 22nd win in 24 games.
No team has ever qualified after losing the first leg at home 3-1 and it looks beyond PSG even with Marco Verratti and Zlatan Ibrahimovic back from suspension. The French champions also just happened to lose by the same scoreline in the group stages at the Camp Nou in December. Neymar, Messi and Suarez all scored. Three of the last five encounters with the Parisiens have ended over 3.5 goals. Back this one to be another entertaining affair.
Back Over 3.5 Gaols @ [2.18]
Monaco v Juventus
Live on Sky Sports 5
Monaco are much less formidable at the Stade Louis II than they are on the road. Their home record is only the eighth best in Ligue 1 and they haven’t celebrated a win in the Principality in more than a month when struggling Bastia had two players sent off. On the occasions when it’s up to them to take the game to the opposition, even with Jeremy Toulalan and Joao Moutinho, they’re not the same threat as when they sit back and strike on the counter.
Juventus, however, are still wary of them. They know only too well that Bayern Leverkusen and Zenit were beaten and shut out along the Cote d’Azur earlier this season. So a rinse-repeat performance of the one they gave in Dortmund in the last round is what coach Max Allegri is asking. He believes his team need to score.
Carlos Tevez is his go-to guy for a goal. The Apache is playing his best football ever. Saturday’s poach against Lazio was his 26th of the season in all competitions. Back him to score at anytime in this one.
Back Carlos Tevez To Score (anytime) @ [2.6]
Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid
Live on Sky Sports 1
The weekend’s 3-1 win against Malaga at the Bernabeu kept Real Madrid within two points of Barcelona in La Liga but it came at a cost. Gareth Bale hobbled off injured after five minutes followed by his former Tottenham teammate Luka Modric. The Croatia international represents the bigger loss. So crucial to Real’s balance and flow, his absence at the beginning of the New Year coincided with a tailspin in the team’s form.
With Marcelo suspended too, belief in the retention of their Champions League title is beginning to fade.
Atleti twice took the lead in a 2-2 draw at the Bernabeu in the Copa del Rey in January and beat them 2-1 in Chamartin in September. Antoine Griezmann is also so hot right now. A brace away to Depor at the weekend made it 23 for the season. It was the fourth straight game his name has appeared on the scoresheet in La Liga. Atleti to qualify to the semi-finals looks worth a wager.
Back Atletico To Qualify @ [2.46]