In one of the most wild Champions League matchweeks ever, Ajax, Porto, Manchester United and Tottenham all advanced to the quarterfinals. Here’s how it went down.
Ajax (5) @ Real Madrid (3) – Ajax went into the defending champions’ den and put on an absolute masterclass by winning 4-1, capping off the worst week in Real Madrid history after they just lost to Barcelona twice. Ajax looked brilliant going forward, had a lot more purpose than Los Blancos, completely dominated the midfield and finished all of their chances including a few spectacular goals. Ajax’s young core led by 19 year old captain Matthijs de Ligt, 21 year old Frenkie De Jong and former Southampton striker Dusan Tadic made Madrid look like a youth team and sent shockwaves and warning signs across Europe. They were +750 to advance going into the match.
Tottenham (4) @ Borussia Dortmund (0) – Dortmund had a mountain to climb even before the match being down 3-0 from the first leg. Matters were made worse when Harry Kane got Spurs a fourth on aggregate and an away goal, forcing Dortmund to have to score 5 to get through. Spoiler alert: they didn’t even score one. Spurs get through to the Quarterfinal.
Roma (3) @ Porto (4) – Even though it had to go into extra time, Porto prevailed 4-3 on aggregate and 3-1 in the second leg coming back after being down 2-1 from the first leg. An Alex Telles penalty sealed the deal for the Portuguese as they knock out a Roma side who ended up firing their manager just 24 hours afterwards.
Manchester United (3) @ PSG (3) – Manchester United became the first club in Champions League history to advance on aggregate after losing the first leg at home by at least two goals. They advanced on away goals as their tally of three away goals trumped PSG’s two from the first leg. This marks PSG’s second embarrassingly bad blown lead in the last three seasons and they’re now left wondering what has gone wrong. Several defensive and goalkeeping mistakes allowed United to capitalize on two of their goals and a handball in the box gave them their third. PSG may have let things slip but it was United’s resolve lacking nine of their first team players that shined on Wednesday. A bunch of kids led by a caretaker manager went into PSG’s house and got a fantastic result, moving them on to the Quarterfinals.
Let’s get into this weekend’s preview…
This Season’s Record: 155-137-37 (-2.8 Units)
Matchweek 29 Record: 1-3 (-2.3 Units)
Saturday, March 9th
English Premier League
7:30 am EST
Brighton @ Crystal Palace (NBCSN) – Palace at home against a struggling Brighton side, especially away from home, seems like a good bet here. Their only loss in their last eight was against a surging United team and Brighton are starting to struggle recently with only one win in the league since December 29th. I’ll take Palace at home. Crystal Palace (-0.5, -115).
10:00 am EST
West Ham @ Cardiff – West Ham are too well-priced here against one of the worsts team in the league. The Hammers have played very well recently with a draw against Liverpool, 1-0 loss at City and wins in the two matches that they should get three points from (Newcastle and Fulham). Cardiff meanwhile have lost three straight and lost their captain and center back Sol Bamba last weekend to a torn ACL. They’ll be more vulnerable than they already have been at the back and there’s a chance this can totally get away from them. West Ham (-0.5, +115).
Bournemouth @ Huddersfield – I couldn’t fade a team who has (+130) odds to beat the worst team in the league. A lot of things are trending away from Bournemouth right now but six of their last seven away losses were to Arsenal, Liverpool, Everton, United, Spurs and Chelsea. I think going to Huddersfield is the perfect chance to break their form and get an away win especially against a Huddersfield team who have nothing to play for. I’ll take them here especially at (+130). Bournemouth (-0.5, +130).
Fulham @ Leicester City – Brendan Rodgers’ home debut will be against Fulham’s new manager Scott Parker’s whose squad is the worst away team in the league this season. Fulham have also lost their last five matches with only one of them being unwinnable, showing that they’re not getting the results even in matches they could get points from. I like Leicester to take all three points at home here in what hopes to be the start of a new era for the club. Leicester City (-1, -105).
Everton @ Newcastle (CNBC) – Newcastle are not only turning it around but they’re turning it around at home and at the right time, a recipe for success for staying up in the Premier League. They’ve won their last four league matches at home while Everton haven’t beaten a team above 16th away from home since October. I always love me a home pickem and it’s no different here. Newcastle (Pick, -110).
Tottenham @ Southampton (NBCSN) – Spurs are the best away team this year and are surely feeling great after advancing to the Quarterfinals of the Champions League. Yes their last two away league matches were losses, possibly bucking their away form, but they’ve since had a big draw in the North London Derby and had a huge away win at Dortmund in the Champions League. Things seem to be turning around for Spurs and I want to nail them while they’re hot. Tottenham (-0.5, -115).
12:30 pm EST
Watford @ Manchester City – Yes, for the first time maybe ever I’m fading City for a third straight week. They’re injured, have a huge Champions League match on Tuesday, will have one less day of rest than their Champions League opponents and only twice in their last nine matches have they won by more than two goals (only once in the league). For Watford, since the start of December they have only lost by more than one goal once against a top 5 side and against all teams in the league they’ve only lost by more than two once. They’re a team that can make life hard on good teams and I think with their fresh legs,they’ll sit back and take their chances on the counter, something that worked for West Ham and Bournemouth in the last few weeks against City. I’ll take the points. Watford (+2.5, -120).
Sunday, March 10th
English Premier League
8:00 am EST
Burnley @ Liverpool (NBCSN) – I’m taking another underdog, fading the other title contender here. I honestly think this will push but my rationale in picking Burnley is that Liverpool are a bit out of form, haven’t beaten Burnley by more than two goals in the last seven encounters and they have a big Champions League match on Wednesday that will be on their mind and they’ll need to prepare for. They play a Burnley team who in the league, have beaten Spurs and drew United in the last month or so. They are always up for playing the big clubs so I’ll take the points again here. Burnley (+2, +105).
10:05 am EST
Wolves @ Chelsea – Wolves against a top 6 side is always a good bet but I love this one specifically here. Chelsea’s depth problem/Sarri’s lack of change in the squad will come back to bite him after they had a match on Thursday in the Europa league and will likely be tired. They’ll need to make changes and if they do, their depth isn’t that strong and if they don’t then they’ll be tired. Wolves will be rested and have eleven points from nine matches against the top six the season, the best outside of that group this campaign. They also beat Chelsea 2-1 earlier in the season. Wolves (+1, -110).
12:30 am EST
Manchester United @ Arsenal (NBC) – Yes United’s win on Wednesday was one of the most miraculous comebacks in European history, but we have to remember that most of their first team is still injured and they will have to play another group of young players at the Emirates. Yes Arsenal will have one less day of rest and they suffered a bad loss in the Europa League on Thursday but they’re much healthier and have been brilliant at home this season. I think this could very well be a draw but I’m going to lean on the Gunners here a bit more than I would on United. Arsenal (Pick, -130).
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Stay Kickin’ It. Peace.