UEFA Champions League Preview

As the quarter-finals loom closer in the Champions League, teams will be going all-out to ensure their place in the draw for the last eight. Manchester City seem to be well on course for their first appearance in the quarter-finals, returning to the Etihad Stadium with a 3-1 lead against Dynamo Kyiv. Rock-solid Atletico Madrid face Phillip Cocu’s PSV Eindhoven with the sides ending all square in a goalless draw in the first leg – so both teams will be vying for the victory. Our Wednesday encounters see Juventus travel to Bayern Munich, and champions Barcelona hosting Arsenal. Bayern earned two away goals in Turin against Juve in a four-goal thriller, while Lionel Messi bagged a brace at Arsenal to carry a two-goal lead into their home tie against the Gunners. There’s loads of money to make in this exciting week of mouth-watering fixtures as teams look to bring cheers instead of tears to their fans.

Tuesday 15 March

5/10 Man City | Draw 32/10 | Dynamo Kyiv 47/10 (21:45)

Manchester City put themselves in a strong position to qualify for the quarter-finals of the Champions League after a 3-1 win at Dynamo Kiev in the first leg of their last 16 tie. It was all smiles for Manuel Pellegrini’s men as they go into the second leg with three away goals. Dynamo Kyiv’s pressure was rewarded, however, thanks to a second half goal from Vitaliy Buyalskyi. City are aiming to reach the quarter-finals of the competition for the first time in the clubs history - and will be confident against a Dynamo side who have never won a game in England. It could be a matter of who has the last laugh as Kyiv knocked out the Citizens 2-1 on aggregate the last time these sides met over two legs – in the 2010/11 Europa League. All eyes will be on Sergio Aguero up front for the Sky Blues. The Argentine international has been in superb form recently and will be looking to find the net once more against the Ukrainian giants. City are seeking a third straight home victory in the Champions League having defeated Sevilla (2-1) and Borussia Monchengladbach (4-2) in the group stage. Pellegrini’s men seem to have the knack for late goals at their turf, scoring in the final 10 minutes against both Sevilla and ‘Gladbach. Group G runners-up Dynamo are looking to reach the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals for the first time since 1999 – when coach Serhiy Rebrov was leading their attack. Rebrov will look to inspire the likes of Andriy Yarmolenko to achieve what he once done with the club – guiding them through to the last eight. Kyiv’s record doesn’t bode well in England, failing to win in 13 attempts, losing 11 of those matches – a record that City will look to extend and add more misery to the Ukrainian’s. City look well on course to reach the quarter-finals after a 3-1 lead in Kiev and are tipped for another victory here at 5/10. 

7/20 Atletico Madrid | 7/2 | PSV Eindhoven 9/1 (21:45)

PSV will travel to Spain to take on Atletico Madrid, looking to break through Diego Simeone’s rock-solid defence. The sides ended in a 0-0 stalemate in the first leg in Eindhoven. Phillip Cocu’s PSV side managed to keep Atleti at bay in the first leg despite going a man down in the 68th minute. The Peasants know that a score draw will see them advance to the next round of the competition – causing a major upset. Just to get a goal against Rojiblancos is a difficult task, outscoring them would be an even bigger challenge, with the likes of Antoine Griezmann, Fernando Torres and Yannick Carrasco causing all sorts of headaches for opposing defenders. Atleti boast the record of the best defence in Europe, conceding just 12 goals in their domestic league. PSV failed to win any of their away games in the group stage losing 3-2 at CSKA Moscow and 2-0 at Wolfsburg while their visit to Manchester United ended goalless. This is PSV's 13th away match against Spanish opposition and they are still seeking a first victory – losing eight times. Home and away, Atletico's record against Dutch opponents is five wins, two draws and four losses – a fairly decent record that Atleti will look to improve. Cocu’s side will be without Gaston Pereiro after the Uruguayan attacker received two yellow cards in the first leg – another positive for Atletico. Simeone’s men look too short of a price at 7/20, back them to Win To Nil instead at 8/10. I don’t see PSV sneaking one past Atletico here.

Wednesday 16 March

4/10 Bayern Munich | 7/2 | Juventus 6/1 (21:45)

Click on the link to see full match preview!

1/4 Barcelona | 47/10 | Arsenal 8/1 (21:45)

A Lionel Messi inspired Barcelona ran riot at the Emirates Stadium with a 2-0 win, with the five-time Ballon d’Or winner bagging a brace. Arsenal will hope to avoid suffering a hat-trick of defeats against Barcelona who beat them previously in two-legged ties in the Champions League in 2010 and 2011. The Gunners, however, have a mountain to climb after Messi's late double in the first leg – the fourth year in a row Arsenal have lost at home in the round of 16 first leg. It will be a difficult task for Arsene Wenger’s men as they hope to end a run of nine straight home wins for Barca. The Catalans extended their record-breaking unbeaten run to 36 games in all competitions with an emphatic 4-0 win over Eibar last weekend. Luis Enrique’s side have the opportunity to make it 10 straight home victories against a possible make-shift Arsenal defence with Petr Cech out injured and Laurent Koscielny a doubt for the tie. Barcelona remain unbeaten in this seasons Champions League and will look to advance through to the quarter-finals for the ninth consecutive year. The Catalans have lost just twice at home in 30 meetings against English opposition – a frightening record for Wenger’s men. Alexis Sanchez will return to his former club where he won the 2012 Copa del Rey and 2013 Spanish title. The Chilean powerhouse has been in dismal form of late and will need a turnaround performance if his side are to get anything at the Camp Nou. For Barcelona, it took time for them to break through Arsenal’s defence, but once the “MSN” combination of Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar clicked into gear – it was only a matter of time for the Champions League holders. We know what Barca can do, we saw what they are capable of in the first leg, now back them to Win + Over 3.5 Goals at 5/4.

UCL Picks
Manchester City WIN 5/10
Atletico Madrid WIN TO NIL 8/10
Juventus WIN/DRAW 33/20
Barcelona WIN + OVER 3.5 GOALS 5/4 

Written by Jesse Nagel