With the first leg of the round of 16’s kicking off this evening, I’m continuing my preview’s. With this round being spread over the next 4 weeks, as the Europa is one round behind as there are still 32 teams in it, and they like to get them going at similar stages, hence why there are 2 games per day for the next 4 midweek’s! These are my thoughts on each game, and with a bet or two for each and an accumulator at the foot of the article. If you aren’t keen on reading through my opinions on each, with reasoning – cut to the bottom where you will find a 25/1 acca for the next two days:
PSG vs Chelsea
This fixture has many bad memories, but several very good games! Last season they met at the same point, and PSG triumphed in what was a bad tempered duo of games. Chelsea managed to get Ibrahimovic sent off, after he did very little, but a great deal of simulation from a Chelsea player saw the Swede was given his marching orders. With Mourinho gone, the bad feeling between the sides might distil a little, but the fans probably won’t let it go which will affect the game.
Betting wise, PSG are rightly favourites, as they are unbeaten this season in the League and the Champions League group stage I believe. Despite Chelsea’s resurgence of late, against world-class opposition I’m still expecting them to be easily beaten, but at this stage of the competition it’s hard to tell what will happen. Instead I’m going with two other bets which are available to differing degree’s on William Hill, Bet365 and PaddyPower.
Over 5.5 Cards @ 6/5 on Bet365, while William Hill’s system of ‘Booking Points’ exchanges that to around ‘Over 55 Booking Points’ @ 17/10 – I believe their system is 10 for a yellow and 20 for a red, so of the two – the better bookie to back with as a card is a card on Bet365, a red or yellow makes no difference to the amount needed. I see it being a tetchy game, with history having a little to do with it. Both have players who are not brilliant in the tackle, with David Luiz being a walking booking at times. There are plenty of South American’s out there on show, and they are often very hot-headed.
My other bet is on corners – I’m backing PSG -1 Corner Handicap @ 5/6 with Bet365 or 17/20 with William Hill. PSG are likely to dominate possession, and with the much more in-form and dangerous players, I think Courtois could be in for a busy evening. The score last season in both legs were 7-1 and 11-7 to PSG. They don’t get many normally but in France there are few that could put up a fight quite like Chelsea – with them winning with ease the likelyhood of them pushing hard enough to get corners is low.
Benfica vs Zenit St Petersburg
This could be the tie of the round of 16 – both in decent form, however Zenit are just finishing their winter break, so rustiness could be a factor. Both play in relatively uncompetitive leagues where they will finish in the top couple with little fight. Zenit have the likes of Danny, Hulk and Axel Witsel in their ranks, while Benfica have multiple stars like Nico Gaitan, but are more of a selling club than Zenit, with several players going to Valencia from them last summer.
On the betting side, Benfica are 23/20 favourites – but Zenit are unpredictable. They have been very good in this competition this season, coming through an average group which included Lyon, Valencia and Gent – but did so with ease. Away from home they are suspect at the back, even with a back four including Ezequiel Garay. Benfica score plenty at home, and between those two facts I think there will be goals. Over 2.5 Goals @ 5/4 looks good value to me, while my 2nd bet is Over 9.5 Corners @ 1/1. Benfica are rarely challenged at home, so like PSG either rack up very few corners, or a lot – and win by a large margin. Zenit are often poor on the road and chase games – and with Hulk shooting on sight, they win plenty of corners. This could and should be a close fought game, end to end stuff. I can’t see one team running away with in on corners and with the nature of the game I can see 12-15 corners.
Gent vs Wolfsburg
On paper, Wolfsburg would win. On the pitch, it could be a far different story. Gent are VERY good at home, and have won 15 of their last 20 on home turf – including winning against Valencia and Zenit in the group phase. There are not superstars in their lineup, with newly capped Belgium striker Laurent Depoitre the focal point of the attack. Wolfsburg are a very hot-and-cold team, being brilliant one week and awful the next. They struggle away from home, beating CSKA but then losing to Man Utd and PSV, and fairly easily. They have a wealth of world renowned players, but struggle to fit them all into a system which performs well. Bas Dost is their imposing, 6ft-8 striker, who against a defence like Gent might be deprived of service.
Away from home, Wolfsburg have lost 8 of 13 games – conceding 2 in all of them. They have lost 3 on the spin, conceding 3 in each to Schalke, Stuttgart and Frankfurt. The price is high, and it is a slight risk, but I really fancy Gent to win @ 2/1.
Roma vs Real Madrid
This on paper looks the most cut-and-dried game this week, but delve deeper and it could be another tense affair. Real Madrid may have all the star players you can think of, but away from home have won just 5 of their last 10, and conceded in 8 – including teams like Granada, Cadiz and Betis. They tend to step up in the Champions League when it matters though – that could be the vital thing.
Roma on the other hand are no soft touch at home, but have an alarming concede-rate, with 7 teams visiting the Stadio Olimpico grabbing a goal, including fairly poor sides like Frosinone, Sampdoria, Spezia and Atalanta. So – both teams have frailties, and then Roma have lost the likes of Doumbia and Gervinho, but have a very adept forward line of Dzeko, El Sharaawy and Salah, while the old stalwart Daniele De Rossi sits in either midfield or defence. Pjanic is also a big danger, but as mentioned the back four is a worry.
8/11 seems a good price for Real, if not a little short for my liking. -1 Goal Asian Handicap @ 7/5 could be a winner if Real have their shooting boots on. Over 2.5 is currently 13/20, while BTTS is 8/13 – both very short considering these games are often close, I remember Real struggling against Schalke in the first leg of this stage last season. With this being a biggie – I see Real stepping up and winning 2-0, so I’m going for Real Madrid -1 Goal Asian Handicap @ 7/5
I know I’ve selected two for some of these, but if you were to use any in an accumulator, it would be the following:
- Real Madrid -1 Goal Asian Handicap @ 7/5
- Gent Win @ 2/1
- PSG -1 Corner Handicap @ 5/6
- Benfica-Zenit Over 9.5 Corners @ 1/1
That pays 25/1 with Bet365, while both corner markets are available on William Hill at similar prices.
Best of luck