Banking On The Champions League Quarter-Finals Winning Streak
Manchester City vs Liverpool
- Kickoff @ 2:45pm ET, Tuesday April 10th
- First Leg Straight Up Pick: Liverpool (Liverpool 3 – 0 Manchester City)
- Second Leg Straight Up Pick: Manchester City (-219)
Wow. That’s all there is to say after Liverpool’s thumping win over City, who have endured a torrid week of fixtures. While we predicted that Liverpool would win this match in our previous piece, few could have believed the final scoreline against a team as powerful as Manchester City. The English Premier League champions-elect were dominant in possession yet rarely tested Loris Karius.
We have seen Liverpool come a long way under Jurgen Klopp, and perhaps the most impressive feature of this match was the way in which Liverpool killed off the game and recorded a clean sheet, something that they have struggled with for a long time. Few will forget their capitulation at the hands of Sevilla after being 3-0 up at half-time, and fans no doubt would have been nervous when Mohamed Salah went off early in the second.
Yet the early onslaught of Salah, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Sadio Mane proved to be enough, and Manchester City have it all to do. The fact that goals are needed in abundance may lead Pep Guardiola to start both Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero up front, something that was seen in the latter stages of the derby against Manchester United on the weekend.
Ironically it is the derby result, one which should still have no impact on their overall season finish, that will be of concern to Guardiola and City fans. Up 2-0 and cruising with Kevin De Bruyne, Aguero, Jesus and Kyle Walker on the bench, the sky blue half of the city were in dreamland, about to claim the title by defeating their biggest rivals. Yet the way in which they were torn open defensively, included from set pieces, is a huge concern.
Liverpool aren’t going to park the bus in this match. Sure, they will set up defensively, but the Manchester derby would have given Klopp a list of weaknesses that his team will attempt to exploit, particularly from dead ball situations. A goal from the away side here would almost surely seal progress to the semi-finals, considering that City would need five to steal victory.
The odds are unsurprisingly skewed in favour of a Manchester City victory here. While Manchester United showed that it is certainly possible to win at the Etihad, it is extremely rare to see anything other than a home win at the ground. City start at -219 favourites, while the draw is available at +411 and Liverpool are offering +455.
Remember that you’re only betting on the result of this match, not the overall tie. We think Liverpool will go through, although Manchester City are certain to win the match itself.Go for Manchester City (-219)
AS Roma vs Barcelona
- Kickoff @ 2:45pm ET, Tuesday April 10th
- First Leg Straight Up Pick: Barcelona (Barcelona 4 – 1 AS Roma)
- Second Leg Straight Up Pick: Draw (+338)
It’s all about relentless pressure when you travel to the Nou Camp. AS Roma made the journey to Barcelona with damage control in mind, and despite a 38th minute goal to the home side, it wasn’t looking too bad just after half-time. Two goals in two minutes, including a second own-goal, turned the tie irrevocably in the favour of the home side, and although Edin Džeko ensured the Italians would have something to cling to when they return home, Luis Suarez’s late strike was a hammer blow.
The only chance Roma have in this tie is to attack from the outset, but it’s no easy feat against one of the best teams on the planet. a 3-0 win would be enough, something that Italian giants Juventus achieved at this stage of last year’s tournament, however this team isn’t quite on the same level. They simply don’t have the roster to compete with Barcelona.
Former Italian star and Roma favourite Bruno Conti summed it up best by saying “Roma without Totti is like Barca without Messi”. So how will this match play out? Will Barcelona look to play possession-based football and suffocate the Italians, or will they sit back and look to unleash Suarez and Messi on the counter? While it is becoming more and more inconceivable after each Real Madrid match that Cristiano Ronaldo will be caught in the golden-boot standings, Messi would still be eyeing up a challenge to his nearest rival.
Yet Barcelona have not prioritised goals in this year’s campaign. They finished with just nine goals from the group stage, and despite lifting their rate of scoring significantly in the knockout stages, they have scored just two goals in their four away Champions League matches. Mind you, they have also conceded just once in the same number of road fixtures, so that is probably a better indication of the likely result here.
Barcelona start as the favourite here despite having only won one of their four away fixtures in the Champions League. At -164, one feels that they priced about right – there is a good chance they will win but the odds on a draw occurring would also be high. For that reason, it may not be a bad idea to jump on the draw at +338.
Roma start at +390, which is not a result that’s totally out of the question, but one we would recommend steering clear of.Go for the Draw (+338)
Real Madrid vs Juventus
- Kickoff @ 2:45pm ET, Wednesday April 11th
- First Leg Straight Up Pick: Real Madrid (Juventus 0 – 3 Real Madrid)
- Second Leg Straight Up Pick: Real Madrid (-184)
Juventus are a great team, and boast a number of impressive players. They reached the Champions League final in last year’s tournament after knocking out Barcelona and conceded just one goal in the knockout stage prior to the final against Real Madrid. They are closing in on their seventh consecutive league title in Serie A, and are almost unbeatable at the Allianz Stadium.
So to see their fans stand and applaud Cristiano Ronaldo after his wonder strike in the first leg of this match, at a ground where the home side explicitly saves cheering for the Old Lady, well that can only tell you one thing. Juventus are great, but Real Madrid are on another planet.
You could argue that cracks appeared in Juventus’ bid to reach a second final when they conceded two second-half goals to Tottenham in the Round of 16. But let’s not compare apples with oranges. Teams just can’t get close to the Spanish giants at the moment. Their mortality may only be exposed by Spanish rivals Barcelona; we can’t see any other team defeating them.
So as Juventus travel to the Bernabeu, what kind of game should we expect? The tie is essentially over – Real Madrid simply will not ship three goals in front of their home fans, and Cristiano Ronaldo’s appetite for goals and personal milestones means that he will once again lead the way for Madrid. He is on the verge of an eleventh consecutive Champions League match in which he has scored, a feat that may never be beaten.
With Paulo Dybala suspended, the away side’s goal-scoring duties will be left to Gonzalo Higuain, and there is a better chance than usual of the Argentine hitting a goal or two in Madrid seeing as Sergio Ramos is also unavailable due to the yellow card he received in the first leg. Real Madrid have shipped at least one goal in three of their four home matches in the tournament, conceding once to Tottenham and PSG and twice against Borussia Dortmund.
Real Madrid start the match as favourites, priced at -184. This is actually a decent price for the home side, who we think will still win despite the fact that only a draw is needed. If you think the Italians can exit the Bernabeu with a point or more, you will get +344 for the draw and +435 for a Juventus victory.Go for Real Madrid (-184)
Bayern Munich vs Sevilla
- Kickoff @ 2:45pm ET, Wednesday April 11th
- First Leg Straight Up Pick: Bayern (Sevilla 1 – 2 Bayern Munich)
- Second Leg Straight Up Pick: Bayern Half-time/Full-time (-161)
The first leg of this matchup saw Sevilla score first, and for a moment there were thoughts that perhaps maybe the Spaniards could continue their run after knocking out Manchester United in the previous round. Then Bayern Munich crashed the party as they so often do in Europe, and will head into this match with little doubt that they will progress to the semi-finals.
It is ironic that Bayern start at the shortest odds out of any team in the final eight considering that this was the only first leg result that wasn’t decided by a margin of three goals. However, this just goes to show you how strong Bayern Munich are at home, and also proves that European pedigree is a strong factor in deciding Champions League ties.
Sevilla have been good value for their run into the final eight, although it must be said that they were exceptionally lucky to reach the knockout stage after a group stage that featured just two wins and 12 goals conceded. Yet much like Real Madrid, the Spanish club has saved its best football for the second round, and the fact that they were on top of Bayern for parts of the match at home shows how far they have come.
Unfortunately, there’s simply no chance that they will get anything out of this match in Munich. Bayern’s record is emphatic at the Allianz Arena – they have won all four UCL matches there this season, scoring 14 goals in the process, and we don’t expect the scoreboard attendant to have a quiet night on Wednesday. Ever Banega will return for Sevilla, and Wissam Ben Yedder is second on the goal-scoring charts in this tournament, but neither will be influencial in this match.
Bayern start as -477 favourites, which is far too short unless you are looking to parlay your bet with the other options above. Robert Lewandowski is paying +191 to be the first goal scorer, which is a money-making alternative, while the Bayern Munich / Bayern Munich double in the half-time/full-time market is offering -161. This could be the pick of the alternative lines.Go for Bayern HT/FT (-161)
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