What an amazing slate of matches we have this week! Several European powerhouses are in action with four facing off in Bayern/Liverpool and Juventus/Atletico. But first here’s a recap from last week:
- PSG Trounced Untied at Old Trafford 2-0, taking two away goals and a hefty aggregate lead into the second leg in Paris. Mbappe was brilliant in the absence of Cavani and Neymar, proving that PSG are more than capable without them.
- Roma beat Porto 2-1 but allowed a late away goal, giving Porto hope that they can get through with a 1-0 win back home in Leg 2.
- Spurs completely took it to Dortmund, winning by three goals in a match that could have gone both ways, especially in the first half. Dortmund have a mountain to climb on March 5th if they want to progress as they surely can’t concede and will need at least three goals.
- Real Madrid win in controversial fashion as VAR’s first involvement took away a first-half goal for Ajax that would have set the tone for the match. Instead, an 87th minute Marco Asensio goal gave Madrid the 2-1 win with two away goals to take back for the second leg.
This Season’s Record: 133-121-32 (-8.0 Units)
UCL Round of 16 Record: 1-3 (-3.2 Units)
Tuesday, February 19th
3:00 pm EST
Bayern Munich @ Liverpool (TNT) – Another huge European Anfield night for Liverpool as they host German powerhouses Bayern Munich. I have two plays for this one as I love the over due to the lack of defensive structure Bayern have shown as of late, recent defensive form for both teams, the offensive abilities of both teams and a major injury I’ll get into in a bit. Bayern’s last six matches have had more than three goals, with an average of 4.5 in each of the matches. Liverpool meanwhile have scored three or more goals in nine of their last fourteen and their matches have had at least three goals in five of their last six at home. But the most important thing for me is that Virgil Van Dijk, arguably the best center back in the world right now, will be suspended for this match. This leaves a massive hole at the back for Liverpool and it will be the first time all season that they won’t have him to command the back line. That’s also why I like Bayern as underdogs here. They’ve been here before and their veteran presence will make sure they leave Anfield without a loss, giving them the advantage in the home leg in Bayern in two weeks time. Bayern (+0.5, -120) and Over 3 goals (-105).
FC Barcelona @ Lyon – FC Barcelona have a bit to prove in this match as their recent form has gotten the best of them as they’ve gone 3-3-1 in their last seven and 1-3-0 in their last four. It could be worse, but it’s certainly not what they wanted or expected going into this Round of 16 clash with Lyon. To make matters a bit worse, Lyon have had one loss in their last nine with six of their last seven resulting in wins (most notably 2-1 to PSG on 2/3). But it is the Champions League where Barca really come alive, going undefeated this year in a group including Inter and Spurs. To add to that they haven’t lost in the Round of 16 in twelve straight seasons, recently beating teams like Man City, Arsenal, PSG and Chelsea. This group has years of Champions League experience compared to the relative rookies of Lyon and they outmatch Lyon in quality across the board. Not to mention they have the best player to ever kick a soccer ball on their team. Although Lyon went undefeated in the group stage in a group which had Man City, they had five draws out of their six matches proving that they have trouble grinding out wins. I like Barca to take the first leg here. FC Barcelona (-0.5, -120).
Wednesday, February 20th
3:00 pm EST
Juventus @ Atletico Madrid (TNT) – Both of these teams are known for their defensive prowess and ability to keep a clean sheet, giving whoever gets the first goal a massive advantage. The two teams basically equally each other out across the pitch, hence why the spread is at a pickem with almost the exact same prices. But there has been something about this Juventus team who have only dropped points six times this season across all competitions that knows how to grind out wins. The addition of Ronaldo has been huge for Juve as he now leads the Serie A in goals and joint-leads in assists, giving their attack a world-class boost. There’s a solid chance that this will be a low-scoring draw, but I’m going to side with Juventus on the pickem due to their goal-scoring ability. They’ve scored more than one goal in eight of their last ten matches (scored three in each of their last three), and I don’t see Atletico out-scoring them in this close of a match. It’ll be tight but if I had to choose, it’s Juve who have the slight edge. Juventus (Pick, -105).
Manchester City @ Schalke – This is the only matchup of the four which is pretty uneven on paper, but contrary to popular belief City have been a bit weak in Europe this season. But they’re now flying high with only one loss in 2019 and have scored 47 goals while conceding only 5 in their last 13 matches. They face a Schalke team who have recovered from their early season woes but are now finding themselves in some inconsistent form. They have only one win in their last five and haven’t been as good as usual at home this season. They’ve also been lackluster in Europe this season and have had trouble grinding out results against quality opposition. Man City are arguably the best team in Europe right now and I can’t fade them. I love City, even with the large spread, to take this one and all but seal their entrance into the Quarterfinals. Manchester City (-1.5, -125).
That’s all for this week’s Champions League action! Some of the best Round of 16 matches I’ve seen in years so enjoy!
Stay Kickin’ It. Peace.