Like many well-meaning young chaps or ladies, the four teams in Champions League action on February 14 will be hoping that it’s a Valentine’s Day to remember. In the 1st legs of their respective ties, Benfica welcome Borussia Dortmund to Portugal while the most eye-catching fixture of the Round of 16 sees PSG and Barcelona will lock horns for a place in the quarter finals.
The Champions League can be a goldmine for football betting enthusiasts – particularly in these two-legged matches where home advantage is so key – so the online betting sites can expect to do a roaring trade in the coming weeks. To get all punters ready for the top Round of 16 match, here is a betting preview offering tips and strategy for the forthcoming gameweek!
For Benfica, there exists an opportunity to match their achievements of 12 months ago in the Champions League. They suffered defeat at the quarter-final stage then to Bayern Munich, and once again it’s a German side standing in their way of reaching the business end of Europe’s premier tournament.
Borussia Dortmund have a rich history of success in this competition, and their most recent triumphs were under now Liverpool Svengali Jurgen Klopp; under whom they reached the final in 2007. Current boss, Thomas Tuchel, is yet to guide the Yellow-and-Blacks to such heights but you suspect when the draw for the last 16 was made a tie with Benfica, privately at least, it brought a smile to his face.
The Portuguese champions have once again climbed to the summit of the Primeira Liga, although critics will note that their two defeats this term have come since the start of December. Add the fact that their progress through the group phase of this competition was less than flashy, and you can see why Dortmund have been installed as favourites by the bookmakers to qualify for the last eight.
Listed as short as 2/7 with Betway, can Benfica spring a huge surprise? On the evidence of their group phase form, you would have to suggest not. They only won two of their six matches, and scraped through to the knockout round by virtue of having a better goal difference than nearest rivals Besiktas; a princely +0, too.
In contrast, the German side blitzed their way through Group F, winning four of their six games and hammering in 21 goals. They twice defeated Benfica’s domestic rivals, Sporting Lisbon, and would ultimately straddle reigning champions Real Madrid at the top of the pile.
The home and away splits are interesting as well. Benfica won just one of their trio of outings on their own soil, and so clearly there are vulnerabilities to them. Dortmund, meanwhile, won in Lisbon and Warsaw and took a confidence-boosting point back from Madrid; they have nothing to fear here.
This first leg is a tough one for punters to call as you would expect Dortmund to be rather more circumspect in their approach than they are typically known for, and as such the draw, available at 23/10 with Coral, appears to be a sound investment.
If the suspicion was that PSG would find it very tricky to overcome the loss of both Zlatan Ibrahimovic and David Luiz in the summer, then that has been confirmed by the Parisians’ form this term. Runaway champions in France this term, they currently sit second in Ligue 1 having taken just 52 points from a possible 72.
They also disappointed in Group A of the Champions League; finishing second behind Arsenal having failed to defeat unfancied Bulgarian outfit Ludogorets in their final match. Both Ibrahimovic and Luiz are excellent players and huge personalities to boot; losing them from the dressing room will have been a bitter blow. They will have their work cut out against Barcelona here accordingly.
The Catalan giants are flying once again in 2016/17 as you would expect any side with a front three of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez to do. They topped Group C, winning five of their six games and bludgeoning home 20 goals, and they currently sit a solitary point behind Real Madrid at the top of the La Liga table.
How they would love to wrestle the Champions League trophy away from their oldest rival. Fans of historical stats will know that Barcelona have reached a minimum of a quarter-final berth in the Champions League every year since 2007, picking up three winners’ trophies in that time too. At this stage 12 months ago, Luis Enrique’s side despatched Arsenal with the minimum of fuss by an aggregate scoreline of 5-1.
Paris St Germain’s best run in this tournament is the quarter finals, a feat they have achieved in five of the last seven seasons, and so anything less than that here would be considered an underachievement of sorts. Without the defensive guile of Luiz and the goals of Ibrahimovic, that unfortunately appears the most likely outcome.
It takes a brave punter to bet against Barcelona at the best of times, and they look a certainty to qualify here; available at a best price of 3/10 with Coral. Indeed, the 11/10 available at NetBet on them triumphing at the Parc des Princes on Tuesday looks an outstanding price of generosity on the behalf of that bookmaker!
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