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Champions League Predictions > Feb 15th - 23rd


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Paris Saint Germain (PSG) vs Real Madrid

Paris Saint Germain (PSG)
Picking up 11 points from six matches, Paris Saint Germain (PSG) finish second in Group A behind Manchester City. PSG secured a 1-0 victory over Rennes in Ligue 1 on Friday, which has left them 16 points clear at the top of the table. It’s believed that PSG will put a lot of focus on their Champions League challenge as they have only reached the final in the 2019/20 season where they lost to Bayern Munich.

Real Madrid
Real Madrid claimed first position in Group D to progress to the round of 16. They reached the semi-finals of last seasons competition, losing 3-1 on aggregate to winners Chelsea. They have won just one of their last four games in all competitions, which was an unconvincing 1-0 success at home to Granada. Currently sitting top of La Liga, Real Madrid drew 0-0 in with Villarreal in their latest game.

Prediction
Real Madrid certainly have the ability to put one past this Paris Saint-Germain lineup. With the handicap, expect Real Madrid can edge out the Frenchman.

Real Madrid to Win with AH +0.5

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Sporting vs Manchester City

Sporting Lisbon will play in this match after a 2:2 stalemate of the Primeira Liga against Porto. They finished second in the group stage ahead of Borussia Dortmund and were among the overachievers. The Lions have been on a persistent run of goalscoring form, finding the back of the net every time they've gone out to play in their last six games. They have claimed a sum of 13 during that time while seeing the number of goals scored against them stand at eight. Paulinho scored eight goals in the Portuguese league, and the opposing defenders have no solution to stop the great striker. The absenteeism rate is low, with only one condition of concern for Sporting Lisbon manager Ruben Amorim thanks to an almost full group. Pedro Gonsalves (muscle injury) won't play.

Manchester City will go into this match after a 4:0 Premier League win to beat Norwich City in their most recent match. The Citizens topped their group ahead of PSG and, as a result, got an easier opponent in this round. A run of dependable performances from the Manchester City defensive players has resulted in the number of goals they've conceded, standing at three from their past six outings overall. Over that same period, their own attack force has managed to score 16. Raheem Sterling plays in great shape, he scored seven goals in 17 games, and he leaves football fans breathless with incredible speed. The opposing defenders have no solution to stop the English international.

Full-Time Winner Odds & Prediction                                                                            

Although Sporting is a tricky opponent, Manchester City is a firm favorite in this tie. The visitors are in the Champions League trophy hunt, and they should secure an advantage in the first leg. Since the odds on the full-time market are low, we'll dip into Asian Handicap.

Goals Market Prediction

Both teams have participated in many high-scoring matches this season, and this one shouldn't be much different. The crowd should enjoy at least three goals in total in this matchup.

Manchester City AH -1.5 @ 1.90

Over 2.5 FT @ 1.65

Correct score 1:3 @ 11.00

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PSG vs Real Madrid

PSG will be looking for another victory after the 1:0 win over Rennes in Ligue 1. The hosts finished second in the group stage behind Manchester City, and a tough challenge is ahead of them. Their latest results highlight the fact that much respect should be given to the Paris Saint-Germain backline. PSG has been mean at the back, resulting in the number of goals that have gone past their goalkeeper over the course of their previous six outings, standing at two. On the other hand, it’s still questionable whether the hosts will have Kylian Mbappe at their disposal for this match. Players who will definitely be unavailable for PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino are Edouard Michut (Coronavirus) and Alexandre Letellier (Coronavirus).

Previously, Real Madrid drew 0:0 in the La Liga match with Villarreal. Los Blancos topped their CL group, suffering the only defeat against Sheriff at home. A succession of reliable displays by the Real Madrid defense has seen the number of goals they’ve conceded standing at four from their last six clashes overall. During the same period of time, their forwards have managed to score seven. However, it didn’t go smoothly for Real Madrid in the front over the past few weeks. The main reason is Karim Benzema’s absence, and the visitors will also miss their best striker. Besides the French international, Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti cannot count on Ferland Mendy (Hamstring Injury) and Mariano Díaz (Pelvis Injury), who will miss out on this game.

Full-Time Winner Odds & Prediction                                                                            

It’s going to be a very close game, and it can easily go either way. Undoubtedly, this match is the most interesting one at this stage of the competition, and we think a draw could be the most realistic outcome.

Goals Market Prediction

Despite missing their leading strikers, these two teams still have significant attacking potential. Therefore, we doubt either side will keep the clean sheet, and the crowd should enjoy an entertaining match.

Draw @ 3.75

BTTS Yes @ 1.60

Correct score 1:1 @ 7.50

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PSG vs Real Madrid

The Champions League last 16 knockout phase kicks off on Tuesday night and we start with a game that sums up what this competition is all about. Two of the giants of European football meet in an 8pm GMT kick-off when French Ligue 1 runaway leaders PSG host current La Liga front runners Real Madrid at the Parc des Princes in Paris. It's hard to fathom that one of these two teams will not reach the Quarter-Finals.

PSG are still waiting to lift the elusive Champions League trophy but with the team flying in their domestic league and navigating their way past a potentially tricky group that included Manchester City, RB Leipzig, and Club Brugge in the group stage of this competition there is a feeling that this could be their year. The fact they also boast a wealth of talent including Lionel Messi, Neymar, and Kylian Mbappe is also a help. Centre back Sergio Ramos is the only noteworthy absentee for this game due to injury with the Spanish international set to miss the chance to play against his old employers. Unfortunately, PSG have only managed 1 win from their last 6 home knockout ties in this competition. Head coach Mauricio Pochettino will be helping the team can build on their 2019/20 Final loss to Bayern Munich and their 2020/21 Semi-Final defeat to Manchester City but it's a tough first knockout game.

Real Madrid will feel confident they can get a result in this game. Head coach Carlo Ancelotti has been here countless times before with AC Milan, Chelsea, Bayern Munich, and even PSG. He's also won this competition with Real Madrid before so you could say he has an abundance of experience. Los Blancos are currently sitting proudly at the top of La Liga and won 5 of their 6 group stage games to finish top of their group. The only loss coming in a shock 2-1 loss at home to Sheriff Tiraspol. Their away from in this competition so far has been flawless with 3 wins, 9 goals scored, and 0 goals conceded. Striker Karim Benzema could be the man to pick as an anytime scorer with the French front man bagging 5 goals in his last 4 appearances in the Champions League.

There is no denying the huge amount of pressure on both of these teams to qualify for the last 8 and the result in this first leg will go a long way to deciding that outcome. PSG are desperate to win their first ever Champions League but despite all their riches it just feels like the pressure repeatedly gets to them. Real Madrid have been there and done it countless times. They may have only scored 1 goal in their last 3 games but Ancelotti is a man you want at the helm for matches like these. I think Real Madrid are worth backing to get something here.

Real Madrid Draw No Bet @ 2.82 with SBK

Anytime Scorer: Karim Benzema @ 2.95 with Unibet

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Sporting CP vs Manchester City

The second game from the first legs of the Champions League last 16 matches being played on Tuesday evening is the clash between Portuguese Primeira Liga reigning champions Sporting CP and the Premier League reigning champions and league leaders Manchester City in an 8pm GMT kick-off at the Estadio Jose Alvalade in Lisbon. The home team are the heavy underdogs but we'd all be wise to not write them off.

Sporting CP are involved in a tough three-way battle for the Primeira Liga title this season with Porto and Benfica. Head coach Ruben Amorim's side have hit an inconsistent spell in the league with 3 wins from their last 6 league matches and they only just qualified for the last 16 here ahead of Borussia Dortmund by virtue of a superior head-to-head record after the two clubs ended up on the same number of points. Home performances in this competition have been hit and miss with the 5-1 loss at home to Ajax early in the campaign countered by the 4-0 win and 3-1 victory over Besiktas and Borussia Dortmund respectively. Scoring goals appears to come easy for the Lions with the team scoring in their last 27 matches.

Manchester City know that this is the trophy that they really want. The Citizens have won everything else under Pep Guardiola but this is the one trophy that evades them. The team are cruising at the top of the Premier League as they look to defend the title they won last season. Just 1 loss in their last 20 matches across all competitions shows how in-form they are but that solitary defeat was a 2-1 loss away to RB Leipzig in their final group stage game of this competition. In fairness, City had qualified top of the group with a game to go so we shouldn't read too deeply into that result. Guardiola will be without his £100 million summer signing Jack Grealish for this game. Money well spent. City have won 11 of their last 12 matches in all competitions and have won 11 of their previous 14 games in the Champions League. Riyad Mahrez is also a great shout for anytime scorer having scored 9 goals in his last 10 appearances in this competition.

It's not going to be an easy game for Manchester City here with Sporting CP potentially devastating at their best at home in this competition. I still think that there really is an expectation on the away side to get something from this game and anything other than a business-like victory will be seen as disappointing. I have to get on the Mahrez anytime scorer train as well.

Manchester City HT/FT @ 2.14 with SBK

Anytime Scorer: Riyad Mahrez @ 2.55 with Unibet

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Salzburg vs Bayern Munich

Red Bull Salzburg will, after the previous result, hope for the same after a 2:1 success in the Bundesliga against Rapid Vienna. The home side finished second in the group stage, just a point behind the top-placed Lille. Red Bull Salzburg has had no problems scoring goals, hitting the target in each of the last six matches. They scored a total of 14 goals in that period, while the number of goals scored against them was five. Karim Adeyemi is the best player in Salzburg and the Austrian league, and many bigger clubs want this guy. However, the hosts will need to cope with several absences. Sekou Koita (Cruciate Ligament Rupture), Bernardo (Knee Surgery), Zlatko Junuzovic (Heel pain), Albert Vallci (Achilles tendon rupture), Benjamin Sesko (Torn Muscle Fiber), and Bryan Okoh will be missing for Red Bull Salzburg boss Matthias Jaissle.

After tasting a 4:2 defeat last time out to VfL Bochum in Bundesliga, Bayern Munich will be aiming to make amends here. The Bavarians were perfect in the group stage, celebrating all six wins. Over the course of their previous six clashes, Bayern Munich has amassed a tally of 18 goals. Bayern Munich has also not failed to score in every single one of those games. In that time, they have seen nine goals go against them. Robert Lewandowski played 22 games this season and scored 26 goals, and the Polish international is breaking records in the Bundesliga. Julian Nagelsmann does a great job, and the young expert shows why he is one of the best coaches in the world.

Full-Time Winner Odds & Prediction                                                                            

The visitors are firm favorites here since they aim for glory in this edition of the Champions League. We expect them to secure an advantage in the first leg, and we’ll go with the Asian Handicap market for an increased value.

Goals Market Prediction

Both teams have been involved in high-scoring matches this season, and the crowd should enjoy a goal feast on Wednesday evening. We believe these two teams will produce at least four goals in total in this encounter.

Bayern Munich AH -1 @ 1.65

Over 3.5 FT @ 1.95

Correct score 1:3 @ 10.00

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Inter vs Liverpool

Inter heads to this game following on from a 1:1 Serie A draw against Napoli. The home side finished second in its group, leaving Sheriff Tiraspol behind. Simone Inzaghi's Inter has celebrated scoring a total of nine times over their preceding six outings. On the other end, the number of goals that have been scored against them in those fixtures is six. However, the hosts need to stabilize their form ahead of the most important matches this season. Regarding the player availability, Alessandro Bastoni (Ankle problems), Joaquín Correa (Hamstring Injury), and Robin Gosens (Hamstring Injury) will be missing for Inter manager Simone Inzaghi.

Liverpool will go into this match after a 1:0 Premier League win versus Burnley in their previous fixture. The Reds were perfect in a very tough group against Milan, Atletico Madrid, and Porto. Over the course of their last half-dozen clashes, Liverpool has helped themselves to the sum of 14 goals. Liverpool has also not failed to score on each one of those occasions. On the other hand, they’ve had two goals go into their net during those fixtures. The English side has been running hot lately, winning six times in a row. Thanks to a largely available group, there is only the sole fitness issue for the Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp to contend with. Divock Origi (Muscular problems) misses out on this game.

Full-Time Winner Odds & Prediction                                                                            

It is going to be a tricky encounter, as Inter should pose significant trouble to the Reds. Although Liverpool is considered a favorite in this tie, we don’t think they’ll win in Milano. We’ll back Inter on the Asian Handicap market here.

Goals Market Prediction

Both teams have significant attacking potential, and we believe they will demonstrate it in this game. Although Liverpool has conceded very few goals lately, neither team should keep the clean sheet on Wednesday evening.

Inter AH +0.5 @ 1.85

BTTS Yes @ 1.60

Correct score 1:1 @ 7.00

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Inter Milan vs Liverpool

The second night of Champions League last 16 first leg games is coming up when Italian Serie A team Inter Milan take on Premier League title challengers Liverpool in an 8pm GMT kick-off on Wednesday night from the San Siro. Two European footballing giants going head-to-head in the knockout round of the continent's elite club competition is exactly what it is all about.

Inter Milan come into this game performing well under head coach Simone Inzaghi but suffering from inconsistency as of late. I Nerazzurri are in 2nd place in Serie A and only 1 point behind league leaders AC Milan with a game in hand on their city rivals as they look to defend the title they won last season. However, it's just 1 win from their last 4 league games including losing the Milan derby at home 2-1 a couple of weeks back and being held to a 1-1 draw away to title rivals Napoli in their last league outing. Despite the derby loss to AC Milan being just their second loss at home in all competitions this season, Inter have only won 3 of their last 11 home matches in the Champions League.

Liverpool have all their stars back from the Africa Cup of Nations and go into this game having secured a 100% record in the group stage of the competition. The Reds are also not out of the Premier League title race yet having reduced the gap with leaders Manchester City to just 9 points with a game in hand and with a game between the two teams still left to be played this season. Jurgen Klopp's side have won 6 matches in a row across all competitions scoring 16 goals and keeping three clean sheets during that run. Their only two defeats experienced this season have come on their travels. Mohamed Salah is likely to be involved for this game and having scored in 5 of their 6 group matches he's a fair shout for anytime scorer.

I'm interested to see how Inter Milan approach this game. If they are to stand any hope of progressing to the Quarter-Finals then they need to get something here. Liverpool are in a fine spell of form right now and with the likes of Salah, Sadio Mane, and Naby Keita all back you have to feel they'll be hard to beat. The Reds won both legs when they last met in the 2007/08 Champions League knockout phase and I wouldn't be surprised if that happened again.

Liverpool to Win @ 2.18 with SBK

Anytime Scorer: Mohamed Salah @ 2.76 with SBK

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RB Salzburg vs Bayern Munich

The second game in the Champions League last 16 first leg matches on Wednesday night is the clash between Austrian Bundesliga champions RB Salzburg and reigning German Bundesliga title winners Bayern Munich in an 8pm GMT kick-off at the Stadion Salzburg in Salzburg. Both teams have big players missing for this game so it might not be as straightforward to call as you might expect.

RB Salzburg have defied the odds by reaching this stage of the competition. Head coach Matthias Jaissle is seeing his team dominant on the domestic front and a 1-0 win at home to Sevilla in the final group stage game secured their passage into the knockout rounds of this competition. Die Roten Bullen might not be everyone's favourite team due to their association with the Red Bull ownership but there's no denying the quality of players such as Noah Okafor, Karim Adeyemi, and Mohamed Camara. Jaissle will be without several players including Bernardo, Sekou Koita, Zlatko Junuzovic, Nicolas Seiwald, Junior Adamu, and Benjamin Sesko. Over 3.5 goals have been scored in 6 of the last 10 home matches Salzburg have played. 

Bayern Munich are one of the favourites for this season's Champions League and it's easy to see why Julian Nagelsmann's men are so highly rated. The German champions cruised into the last 16 with a 100% record from their group that contained Benfica, Barcelona, and Dynamo Kiev. Bayern are also top of the Bundesliga table by 6 points. However, they have been prone to defeats this season losing to Borussia Monchengladbach (three times including pre-season!), Eintracht Frankurt, FC Augsburg, and VfL Bochum. Nagelsmann will also face a number of key absentees ahead of this game such as Manuel Neuer, Alphonso Davies, and Leon Goretzka. It'll be interesting to see how the team bounces back after that shock 4-2 loss away to Bochum on the weekend. Are they fragile or a wounded animal? Over 3.5 goals have been scored in 6 of the last 7 Bayern Munich matches.

I think we can expect goals in this game. On top of the goals that have been flying in for their recent matches they also played each other twice in the group stages last season with 12 goals being scored in those two matches with Bayern Munich winning both. I think RB Salzburg will provide a stern test for the visitors but I'd be surprised if Bayern didn't prevail as winners here.

Bayern Munich to Win & BTTS @ 2.40 with SportNation

Total Goals Scored Over 3.5 @ 1.95 with SBK

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10 points each on Salzburg 1st and last corner at 9/4 with 365.

Combines my recent interest in this market with a long-standing one in RBS corners in European competitions.

Hard to call the totals when they host a team like Bayern in a 1st leg (will they go for it as much etc.) but I’m confident these odds are generous. Saw it at 6/4 elsewhere and think the truth could be pretty much bang in the middle.

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22 hours ago, harry_rag said:

10 points each on Salzburg 1st and last corner at 9/4 with 365.

Combines my recent interest in this market with a long-standing one in RBS corners in European competitions.

Hard to call the totals when they host a team like Bayern in a 1st leg (will they go for it as much etc.) but I’m confident these odds are generous. Saw it at 6/4 elsewhere and think the truth could be pretty much bang in the middle.

Thought the last bet had landed based on the website I was following on but it would seem not as the bet was settled as a loser! :wall

Checked two other sources and it would seem that Bayern did indeed get the last one. Still, with RBS getting 5 out of the 15 corners at least it's nice to know the bet was value! They also got 2 of the first 3.

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Chelsea vs Lille

Chelsea
Finishing second in the group stages, Chelsea were comfortably through to the knockout rounds in the end. Chelsea are currently unbeaten in each of their last six outings, including five straight wins in that time. Chelsea secured a 0-1 Premier League victory versus Crystal Palace over the weekend. Before that, they shared a 1-1 FIFA Club World Cup draw with Palmeiras. Chelsea have scored two or more goals in their last six home matches.

Lille
Lille finished top of Group G with 11 points from six games, one point above second-placed Salzburg. However, the defending French champions have struggled for consistency since the turn of the year, winning two, drawing two and losing three of their seven games in 2022. Lille head into Tuesday’s game fresh off the back of a disappointing goalless draw with rock-bottom Metz in Ligue 1, where they are currently languishing in 11th place.


Prediction
Lille were winless in four of their past six games, and they had also remained so in three of their preceding four road trips. Despite their unconvincing performance, Chelsea should build on the victory and come away with a vital first-leg win.

Chelsea to Win with AH -1.5
Final Results: 2-0

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Villarreal vs Juventus

Villarreal
Currently sixth in the league standings, Villarreal have now turned their attention to the Champions League where they finished second in Group F, one point off first-placed Manchester United. They are currently unbeaten in each of their last four games, claiming three wins and one draw since a 1-0 loss against Elche on January 16. Villarreal maintained their fine form in La Liga as they claimed an emphatic 4-1 victory away to Granada last Saturday.

Juventus
Juventus picked up five wins from six games and finished top of Group H.  They head into Tuesday’s game unbeaten in each of their last seven games, dating back to their Super Cup loss against Inter Milan back in January. However, they have failed to win any of their last three away games. Last time out, Juventus drew 1-1 in the Serie A tie with Torino.


Prediction
Juventus head into the game with several injury concerns down the spine of the team, making Villarreal slight favorites. Therefore, expect Villarreal to be unbeaten.

1X2 Pick: 1X

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Chelsea vs Lille

Chelsea will be looking for another win after a 1:0 Premier League triumph versus Crystal Palace. The Blues finished second in the group stage, being two points behind Juventus. Chelsea hasn’t had any problems with scoring, hitting the target in one hundred percent of their last six games. They have totted up the amount of nine during that time while also conceding a total of three. Timo Werner is back after the injury, and we will see if he will get more minutes in the next period. The German international hasn’t impressed this season, as he netted only once so far. Regarding the absences, Mason Mount (Ankle Injury), Reece James (Fitness), and Ben Chilwell (Ruptured cruciate ligament) are not available for Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel.

In their previous fixture, Lille picked a point in a disappointing goalless draw against Metz. On the other hand, Les Dogues did very well on the group stage, topping the standings. Throughout their six most recent matches, Jocelyn Gourvennec's Lille have had reason to celebrate scoring six times, therefore, giving them a goals per game average of 1. Jonathan David is the guy who exploded this season with 12 goals scored, and he is the top scorer in Ligue 1. However, he hasn’t been too consistent in 2022. Owing to a completely healthy squad ready to go, the Lille boss Jocelyn Gourvennec doesn’t have any fitness worries at all coming into this match.

Full-Time Winner Odds & Prediction                                                                            

Although Chelsea hasn’t been too confident lately, the Blues are firm favorites in this tie. The defending champions want to continue the race for the trophy, and we expect them to secure a comfortable advantage before a trip to France.

Goals Market Prediction

Chelsea should be confident in the back, although Lille has a very talented offense. Nevertheless, we expect the hosts to control this game, and they should be able to keep the clean sheet.

Chelsea AH -1.5 @ 2.00

BTTS No @ 1.60

Correct score 3:0 @ 7.50

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Villarreal vs Juventus

Villarreal will want to continue from where they left off last time, with a 4:1 La Liga success versus Granada. The Yellow Submarine secured a place in the knockout stage thanks to a 3:2 victory in Bergamo. Looking into their more recent scorelines shows that it has been a great time for the Villarreal backline. Villarreal has been miserly, with the total number of goals that have gone past their goalkeeper during their last six games, standing at four. They also climbed to 6th place in La Liga, returning to the Champions League qualification race. Speaking about selection issues, Rubén Peña (Shoulder Injury), Francis Coquelin (Achilles Irritation), and Paco Alcácer (Muscle Injury) aren't available for Villarreal manager Unai Emery.

Juventus drew 1-1 in the Serie A match with Torino, which was their second straight in Serie A. However, Bianconeri finished first in their group and ahead of Chelsea. A series of outstanding displays from the Juventus defensive players has seen the number of goals they've conceded standing at four from their previous six fixtures combined. Over that same time, the number of goals they have scored themselves amounts to 10. However, Juventus should stabilize its form to stay in the top four in Serie A and proceed to the Champions League quarter-finals.

Full-Time Winner Odds & Prediction                                                                            

Villarreal hasn’t lost at home since November 2021, and they want to continue that streak. On the other hand, Juventus has more experience in these knockout games. We anticipate a lot of tactical outwitting of both coaches, and the fairest outcome in the first leg should be a draw.

Goals Market Prediction

The home side has been pretty tight in the back lately, conceding just once on the previous four occasions. Also, four of Juventus’s last five games stayed under a 2.5 margin, and we don’t expect to see more than two goals in total in this one.

Draw @ 3.20

Under 2.5 FT @ 1.65

Correct score 1:1 @ 6.00

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Villarreal CF vs Juventus FC

2022-02-22T21:00+01:00

 

Villarreal CF

Doubtful: Capoue (19/1 m), Lo Celso (3/0 m)

Out (injuries/other): Coquelin (13/1 m), Rubén Peña (6/0 m), Gerard Moreno (13/8 f, top scorer)

Suspended: -

 

Juventus FC

Doubtful: Bonucci (16/3 d), Pellegrini (10/0 d, probably in)

Out (injuries/other): Chiellini (13/0 d), Chiesa (14/2 f), Dybala (20/7 f, top scorer), Rugani (6/0 d), Bernardeschi (18/1 f)

Suspended:

 

Daily updated injuries and suspensions information from more than 100 football leagues and competitions worldwide at: www.injuriesandsuspensions.com

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Atletico Madrid vs Manchester United


Atletico Madrid
Atletico Madrid's performance in the 2021-22 Champions League group stage was far from convincing. They won only two of the six games against Liverpool, Porto and AC Milan, but they won Porto 3-1 on the last game day, getting seven points and putting them in second place after Liverpool. They will enter Wednesday's game after the 3-0 win over Osasuna. It is noted that the team have concede a total of eight goals in the past four home games.

Manchester United
Manchester United were at the top of group F, getting 11 points in six games. Ronaldo scored some very important goals to help his team enter the knockout stage. They will enter the game after Sunday's 4-2 win over Leeds United, which ensured crucial three points for the fourth-placed Red Devils in the league table. Moreover, three of their former four road trips had four or more goals as well. But they haven't conceded goals in only three of the past 12 games.

Prediction
Considering these observations, it is expected that any team will score at least one goal on Wednesday. However, for the two close teams, a victory seems unlikely and a draw is expected.

1X2 Pick: X
(BTTS) Both Teams to Score

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Chelsea vs Lille

The Champions League last 16 first legs continue this week and the Tuesday night kick-off at 8pm GMT will see reigning holders of this competition's trophy Chelsea take on underdogs in the form of French Ligue 1 club Lille at Stamford Bridge. All the expectation and pressure is on the home team who many expect to progress from this game but is it as cut and dry as many are tipping?

Chelsea qualified with relative ease for this stage of the competition after finishing 2nd in their group but having won 4 of their 6 group matches. The Blues finished just 2 points behind group leaders Juventus and pipped both Zenit St Petersburg and Malmo to the qualification spots. Thomas Tuchel's side have already lifted two trophies this season in the shape of the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup. However, they are likely to be without Mason Mount, Ben Chilwell, Callum Hudson-Odoi, and Reece James for this game. The team have a crunch EFL Cup Final with Liverpool on Sunday so it'll be interesting to see what line-up Tuchel goes with. Chelsea's recent games haven't been filled with the most goals with each of their last 8 matches seeing less than 2.5 goals scored. The team also saw less than 2.5 goals scored in each of their Champions League knockout round matches last season on their way to lifting the trophy.

Lille are a bit of a surprise package this season. Les Dogues stormed to the Ligue 1 title last season shocking PSG in the process. Head coach Jocelyn Gourvennec had been tasked with picking up the pieces after former gaffer Christophe Galtier's stunning resignation just two days after the club won the league title. The former Guingamp and Bordeaux man might not be getting the most out of his squad in the league with the team down in 11th place but they managed to navigate their way through a Champions League group containing RB Salzburg, Sevilla, and Wolfsburg and finishing as group winners too. That being said, Lille are the lowest scoring winners of a group over the last five seasons having scored just 7 goals in their 6 group matches. Striker Jonathan David is their man to watch having scored 16 goals in all competitions already this season but the likes of Renato Sanches, Jose Fonte, and Hatem Ben Arfa are players that fans of Premier League football will be familiar with.

These two sides have only met twice before back in the 2019/20 edition of the Champions League. On both of those occasions, it was Chelsea who prevailed as 2-1 winners. It's been a hectic time for Chelsea recently with their packed schedule on all fronts but they seem unfazed. I'm not expecting many goals in this game at all and I can see Chelsea pulling off a narrow one goal victory again.

Chelsea to Win to Nil @ 1.93 with BetVictor

Total Goals Scored Under 2.5 @ 1.98 with SBK

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Villarreal vs Juventus

The second 8pm GMT kick-off on Tuesday night in the Champions League last 16 first legs will see Spanish La Liga side Villarreal go up against Italian Serie A club Juventus at the Estadio de la Ceramica. These two teams have contrasting histories in European competition down the years but in this particular encounter it feels that it is more unpredictable than in any other previous season with both teams possessing the capabilities to win this game.

Villarreal continue to be the little club that could. Head coach Unai Emery saw his team reach this stage of the competition thanks to a dramatic 3-2 win away to another Italian club in Atalanta. It was a closely fought battle but the Yellow Submarine held off the attacks late on from the hosts to progress. Just 1 loss from their last 10 league games has seen the team move up to 6th in the league and just 3 points off the pace of the Champions League qualification spots. Scoring goals has been easy for the Spaniards recently having bagged 9 goals in their last 4 matches in this competition. Former Bournemouth winger Arnaut Danjuma is the danger man for Villarreal right now having scored 4 goals in the Champions League this season and banging in a hat-trick in the club's 4-1 win away to Granada in the league on the weekend.

Juventus are still seen as one of the great teams of European football having won the European Cup/ Champions League twice, the UEFA Cup three times, and the European Cup Winners' Cup once. Head coach Massimiliano Allegri has returned to the club after Andrea Pirlo's departure. The Old Lady were pipped to the Scudetto last season and are currently down in 4th place in the league this season. The team progressed to the last 16 in this competition with ease as group winners ahead of Chelsea, Zenit St Petersburg, and Malmo. There is an expectation that goals will fly in here with both teams scoring in 7 of the last 10 matches that Juventus have been involved in. The team has shown the ability to keep clean sheets though managing to do that in 4 of their 6 group stage matches.

These two teams have met once previously and this was a friendly game when it was Villarreal who prevailed as shock 4-1 winners at the Allianz Arena. I feel that this is a game that a fully firing Juventus could scrape a win in but something doesn't feel quite right with the Italian side. Villarreal have a man who knows how to walk the European competition path in Emery and I wouldn't be surprised to see him help his team get something from this game. This is Juventus though and you can never write them off. The odds of an away draw no bet is just too tempting.

Juventus Draw No Bet @ 2.14 with Unibet

BTTS @ 1.98 with SBK

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Benfica vs Ajax  

Benfica enters this match after a 2:2 draw in the Primeira Liga against Boavista. However, the Eagles enjoyed a big success reaching the knockout stage ahead of Barcelona. Benfica has been on a persistent run of goalscoring form, hitting the target in one hundred percent of their last six games. They've managed to rack up 11 during that time while conceding a total of seven. Darwin Nunez is playing perfectly this season, he scored 18 goals in the Portuguese League, and many big clubs are interested in this guy. Haris Seferovic (Leg Injury), Lucas Veríssimo (Ruptured cruciate ligament), and Rodrigo Pinho (Cruciate Ligament Rupture) aren’t available for Benfica manager Nélson Veríssimo.

Ajax comes into this game following on from a narrow 1:0 Eredivisie win with the downing of Willem II in their most recent game. They have been excellent in the group stage, being successful in all six rounds. The Ajax defense's series of resolute showings has resulted in the number of goals they've conceded, standing at one from their past six outings overall. In that period, the number of goals they scored themselves is 25. Dušan Tadić, the alpha, and omega of this team, a football master pushing the boundaries of statistics to 23 matches this season, scored seven goals and recorded as many as 15 assists. Ajax manager Erik ten Haag has to choose from a squad with some fitness concerns. Zakaria Labyad (Unknown Injury), Mohamed Ihattaren (Fitness), and Sean Klaiber (Cruciate Ligament Rupture) will not play in this match.

Full-Time Winner Odds & Prediction                                                                            

The hosts haven’t been confident at the home ground lately, as they won only twice on the previous five occasions in front of the home crowd. Although Ajax has had some internal problems recently, we believe they will be able to secure the advantage in the first leg.

Goals Market Prediction

Benfica’s defense has been pretty leaky at Estadio da Luz lately, as they failed to keep the clean sheet five times in a row. On the other hand, Ajax has been lethal in front of the oppositions’ goalkeepers, and we see this game going over a 2.5 margin.

Ajax to Win @ 1.80

Over 2.5 FT @ 1.70

Correct score 1:2 @ 8.50

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Atletico Madrid vs Manchester United

Atletico Madrid hopes to win again after their last result, a 3:0 victory in La Liga over Osasuna. However, Los Colchoneros barely reached the knockout round, as they booked only two wins in the group stage. Fixtures featuring Atlético Madrid have often been lively ones of late, with a lot of goalmouth action expected. Over their past six games alone, a total of 24 goals have been recorded for both teams combined (at an average of 4 goals per game), with 12 of these accredited to Atlético Madrid. Nevertheless, they need to tighten their defense since it hasn’t been as solid as in the previous seasons. The Atlético Madrid manager Diego Simeone doesn’t have any fitness concerns to speak of before this game owing to a fully healthy group ready to go.

Manchester United will go into this clash following a 4:2 Premier League win with the eclipse of Leeds United in their previous outing. Although the Red Devils haven’t been too convincing in the group stage, they reached the pole position. For five of the past six games featuring Manchester United, a comparatively low number of goals have been struck between them and their opponents. The overall average goals scored per game within that spell comes out as a paltry 2.5, with the average goals for the Red Devils being 1.67. However, Man Utd should be more consistent to succeed in the Champions League this season.

Full-Time Winner Odds & Prediction                                                                            

Atletico Madrid hasn’t played well at home in the CL this season, as they failed to celebrate a single win. Neither side has been too convincing lately, and we won’t be surprised if this game ends in a draw.

Goals Market Prediction

Both teams have shown a lack of confidence in defense this season. On the other hand, each side poses significant attacking potential. Therefore, we expect to see goals in both nets in this encounter.

Draw @ 3.20

BTTS Yes @ 1.90

Correct score 1:1 @ 6.00

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Atletico Madrid vs Manchester United

The last two matches from the first legs of the Champions League last 16 games take place on Wednesday night. The first of those that I'm taking a look at is when La Liga side Atletico Madrid host Premier League club Manchester United in an 8pm GMT kick-off from the Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid. Neither of these two clubs are really considered amongst the favourites so reaching the Quarter-Finals will be a big achievement for them.

Atletico Madrid might have won the La Liga title last season but Diego Simeone's side are off the pace a little bit this time around. Colchoneros are 5th in the league table and 15 points off the title pace. Elimination from the both the Copa del Rey and Supercopa de Espana has left the team fighting on just two fronts so the importance of going far in the Champions League is now even more heightened. Inconsistency has blighted their campaign so far and their group stage performance was a microcosm of that as they narrowly squeezed into the last 16 after finishing behind group leaders Liverpool but just ahead of Porto and AC Milan. The 3-1 win away to Porto in their final group game sealed that. The strangest aspect of Atletico's form this season is their usually watertight defence has gone missing. It's just 1 clean sheet in their last 8 matches in all competitions. They have also lost 3 of their last 4 matches played in this competition and haven't experienced a win at home in the Champions League yet this season.

Manchester United have been batting off some negative PR for most of this calendar year but the latest round of rumours circulating about dressing room unrest with Harry Maguire versus Cristiano Ronaldo in a captaincy bout being the latest controversy were answered roundly with a 4-2 win away to Leeds on the weekend. The Red Devils might not be playing vintage football but they are 4th in the Premier League table and into the last 16 of the Champions League. Ralf Rangnick might not be to everyone's taste but he's just about doing enough to keep the team involved where they want to be. Ronaldo could be a decent shout for anytime scorer having bagged a goal in 5 of their 6 group stage games. They were far from convincing in their group but still finished top ahead of Villarreal, Atalanta, and Young Boys. Their away games recently have also been eventful with both teams scoring in 12 of their 16 away games this campaign.

I think this is a game where Atletico Madrid could well be seen as the narrow favourites but when you see they are without the key trio of Koke, Yannick Carrasco, and Felipe then you feel that maybe Manchester United have a good reason to feel that they can sneak a result. I don't see any reason why backing a draw isn't a sensible shout and it'll leave a finely poised second leg game at Old Trafford.

Draw @ 3.20 with Bet365

BTTS @ 1.91 with Betfred

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Benfica vs Ajax

The final game I'm previewing from the Champions League last 16 first leg matches is coming at us on Wednesday night when two iconic teams of European football go head-to-head as Portuguese Primeira Liga team Benfica play host to Dutch Eredivisie club Ajax in an 8pm GMT kick-off at the Estadio a Luz in Lisbon. All is not well with the home team for this game but can uncertainty behind the scenes be put to one side against a visiting team who have a tendency to deliver in this competition?

Benfica are going through a period that might be described as turbulent. Rui Costa departed his role as club president back in October and former head coach Jorge Jesus also left back in December. Nelson Verissimo has been appointed as interim head coach with the club in 3rd place in the Primeira Liga and 12 points behind league leaders Porto. The team did well to navigate through a tricky group stage finishing 2nd behind Bayern Munich but ahead of Barcelona and Dynamo Kiev. Clean sheets in 4 of their 6 group stage games shows how resilient their back-line can be on their day. The team have also scored in 10 matches in a row so the attacking threat is also clear to see.

Ajax remain a team that will cause problems for any team in the Champions League. Erik Ten Hag is still the head coach at the Dutch side despite constantly being linked with some of the biggest job vacancies in European football over recent years. The team come into this game having finished top of their group with a 100% record having scored 20 goals and conceding just 5 goals in their 6 group games. Impressive statistics given their group contained Sporting CP, Borussia Dortmund, and Besiktas. Ajax are unbeaten on their travels in over 14 months and have won 12 of their 14 away games so far this season. Former West Ham striker Sebastian Haller will be the one to watch for Ajax here having bagged 28 goals in 27 appearances for the club this season.

I'm fascinated to see how this game pans out. I think Ajax have really gone under the radar and I'd be surprised if they didn't progress over the two legs. I'll also be interested to see how they perform against one of the biggest teams in the competition such as a Manchester City or Bayern Munich. Benfica aren't the powerhouse they used to be but they have the ability to grind out results. I'm torn between a draw and an away win but I really like this Ajax side that Ten Hag has built. Worth backing to some extent.

Ajax to Win & BTTS @ 3.30 with Betfair

Anytime Scorer: Sebastian Haller @ 2.25 with Unibet

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