How Will This Week’s Big European Football Clashes Finish?
It’s another big week of European Football action this week as the second legs of the quarterfinals in the Champions League and the Europa League take place from Tuesday through to Thursday evenings. A total of 16 teams in total, eight in each competition, are battling it out to try and secure a place in the semifinals and a shot at a place in the final.
In the Champions League, two English sides face each other as Manchester City host Tottenham trailing by a goal in the first leg. Manchester United kick off the action for British clubs as they travel to the Nou Camp tonight to face Barcelona, trailing 1-0 from the first leg at Old Trafford. The other English side sees Liverpool in action in Portugal as they take a 2-0 lead into the second leg against FC Porto.
In the Europa League, Arsenal and Chelsea both hold leads from their first legs and should be confident of progressing, as should Valencia, who hold a 3-1 lead from their away victory over local rivals Villarreal last Thursday.
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Let’s now take a look at how each of the games stands in both competitions, starting with the Champions League games.
Champions League – 16th & 17th April
Barcelona v Manchester United
The home side lead 1-0 from the first leg in Manchester where a Luke Shaw own goal gave the visitors a vital lead heading into the away leg. Barcelona have not lost in 30 Champions League matches at home, their last defeat coming against Bayern Munich back in 2013. That gives you an idea of the size of the task facing Manchester United tonight.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team have struggled a little for form of late and they were fortunate to beat West Ham at home on Saturday. They may have won sensationally in Paris in the last round, but I think this is a different magnitude of difficulty to get a 2-1 or better win over Barcelona in their own back yard.
My Tip – Back Barcelona to win by a correct score of 2-0, which is a 7/1 shot with bet365.
Juventus v Ajax Amsterdam
After a 1-1 draw in the first leg in Amsterdam, Juventus may well feel they have the advantage heading into the home leg in Turin, but Ajax having beaten Real Madrid in Madrid in the last round will not be too fazed at the prospect of taking on Cristiano Ronaldo and co on their own pitch.
That said, I still feel that Juventus are the big favourites here. Much more solid than Real defensively, I cannot see them allowing Ajax the freedom Real did and I also feel Juventus are in better form than Real, especially at home where they have been pretty much unbeatable this season, although Manchester United did earn a vital win there in the Group Stages.
My Tip – Ronaldo should inspire Juventus here and I’m backing Juventus to win and both teams to score which is a 12/5 shot with bet365.
FC Porto v Liverpool
Liverpool take a 2-0 lead into the away leg in Portugal and they should be confident of at least scoring against their opponents, having earned a 5-0 victory in the same stadium in this competition last season. FC Porto, having squandered a couple of opportunities at Anfield, will know that an away goal for Liverpool could well kill the game off.
In truth, I think the Reds are hitting top form at just the right time. A superb win over Chelsea at the weekend saw them go back top of the Premier League and I am convinced that they will come through this tie with another victory in the bag to move them into the semifinals for a second season in a row.
My Tip – Don’t get too clever with this one, simply back Liverpool to win at 11/10 with bet365.
Manchester City v Tottenham
A goal from Hyeong Min Son handed Tottenham a deserved 1-0 win in the home leg against Manchester City, who saw Sergio Aguero’s penalty saved by Hugo Lloris early in the game, a factor which had a big influence on that game and could well have a similar influence on this. City come into the game knowing they need to win by two clear goals and while they are capable of that, they will know that one goal for Spurs will leave them needing three.
As such, I think a strong defensive display from City is paramount if they are to progress and while they can do this, I think in recent matches they have looked more susceptible, especially late on in games. I am backing City to win, but I think this game could well have a dramatic ending which means that despite the City win, City may not have everything their own way.
My Tip – Back Manchester City to win and both teams to score which is a 7/5 shot at bet365.
Europa League – 18th April
Chelsea v Slavia Prague
Chelsea produced a battling display to earn a solid win over Slavia Prague in the Czech Republic last week. Marcos Alonso’s header putting the Londoners in pole position with the home leg to come in front of the Stamford Bridge crowd.
In truth, I think this should be plain sailing for Chelsea and while Slavia won’t let them run up a cricket score as Kiev did in the last round, I think the home side will make it a relatively comfortable night with a straightforward win here.
My Tip – Back Chelsea to win this one 2-0 at 5/1 with bet365.
Eintracht Frankfurt v Benfica
Benfica took full advantage of Frankfurt being reduced to ten men for the majority of this game with their teenage superstar Joao Felix netting a superb hattrick in a 4-2 win. However, those two away goals mean Frankfurt are not out of this yet, especially with the German side being one of the more formidable outfits in this competition this season.
The German side will have to be much better defensively to deny Benfica a goal, but in truth, I feel with 11 men for the full game, they can turn this around, although I am expecting another dramatic night and a fair few goals to go in at both ends.
My Tip – Back Frankfurt to win and both teams to score at 21/10 on bet365.
Napoli v Arsenal
A 2-0 win for Arsenal in their home leg makes this trip to the San Paolo stadium in Naples a less daunting task than it would have been had Napoli been able to score one of the two great chances they created at the Emirates. That they didn’t could well come back to haunt the Italians who need a 3-0 or better result in order to progress.
Napoli are not the best when they power forward and with Arsenal more than capable of playing on the counter attack, I can see the English team nabbing one goal, maybe even two on the break. If they do that, then I can’t see anything but Arsenal going through, although I would expect Napoli to at least earn a draw in the game.
My Tip – Take the draw here which is a 29/10 shot with bet365.
Valencia v Villarreal
Two late goals handed Valencia a 3-1 victory in the first leg in Villarreal and in truth, that result should be more than enough to put Valencia into the semifinals against opponents who, while performing well in Europe, have been well below par in La Liga this season.
Valencia defeated Villarreal 3-0 in La Liga a short time ago and while I don’t see the urgency being there for Valencia, I still feel they are extraordinarily difficult to beat and I can see them being patient before they put Villarreal to the sword, perhaps with another late goal or two.
My Tip – Valencia to win to nil is a good shout at 15/8 at bet365.