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Champions League Picks: Hotspurs and Citizens To Finish The Job?
Tottenham vs Juventus
First Leg Result: Juventus 2 - 2 Tottenham
When Tottenham's Champions League group was read out, we couldn't see them progressing let alone topping Real Madrid. They did. Then, after being 2-0 down against a Juventus side that almost never concedes at home... well, you couldn't script what happened next. Mauricio Pochettino has done an amazing job with this squad of players.
Tottenham's performance in this year's tournament has been exceptional and sums up the resurgence of English football on the European stage. Although the odds are against Chelsea in their tie against Barcelona, Spurs will go into this match as the favourite to progress, as will Manchester United, Liverpool and City. We could once again see four English teams in the final eight - they are the only nation to achieve this in the Champions League era.
But don't discount Juventus so easily. While they come into this match with their backs to the wall, having conceded two goals at the Allianz and also their home advantage, they are a strong side that is not used to losing. In fact the Italian champions have only lost one of their last seven away games in the Champions League games, and have reached the final of the tournament in two of the last three years.
Even though Juventus are in form (they have won their last ten consecutive Serie A matches), Tottenham have history on their side here. 83% of teams returning home after a 2-2 first leg draw They have won each of their last four games at Wembley, scoring three goals on each occasion, although they have also failed to keep a clean sheet in five out of six matches at the venue.
So where does this leave us? The fact that Tottenham only need a low scoring draw or better to progress to the second round gives them the upper hand, although it will be very interesting to see how they handle the pressure of favouritism. They have only once reached the Champions League quarter-finals (2010/11), and are playing against much more experienced opponents.
This one is going to be tight. We think that Tottenham will eventually prevail, although are finding it hard to decide whether the final score in this one will be a low scoring draw or a win to the home side. The odds are extremely tight, and we're going to back the draw in this one. At around +238, it's decent value, and remember that if the score is 2-2, you will still win this bet despite the match going to extra time.Take the Draw (+248)
Manchester City vs FC Basel
First Leg Result: FC Basel 0 - 4 Manchester City
Much like the match between Liverpool and FC Porto, another English team packed their bags for a European destination and were completely dominant against their foreign counterparts. As so often is the case when Manchester City are on form, three goals were scored in the first half hour of action, and the final score of four-nil was almost merciful given the gulf in class between the sides.
Was it that FC Basel showed none of the fight that earned them a last-minute win over Manchester United earlier in the tournament, or is it simply the case of City being a class above every opponent these days? It's hard to tell, but what is much easier to predict is the outcome of this tie - it's well and truly over, and Manchester City will be the ones with their name in the quarter-final draw.
It's no surprise to learn that no team have ever come back from a 4-0 home defeat to progress to the next round of a Champions League tie. Of course, we did see a famous comeback by Barcelona last season after losing away from home, although you're talking about Messi, Neymar and Suarez, not the almost unknown quantity that is Dimitri Oberlin (he has scored in his last two away UCL games for Basel).
As dominant as City have been, it's surprising to note that they have made seven consecutive Champions League appearances and only once progressed past the round of sixteen. On that occasion they made it to the semi-finals, and you wouldn't back against them repeating that feat this year. They have not failed to score in their last twelve UCL matches, and have not lost at home in their last 12.
There is much to consider when looking at this match as a one-off, rather than the tie as a whole. City have just completed an exhausting set of fixtures that included two matches against Arsenal (both 3-0 wins, one in the League Cup final) and a 1-0 win over Chelsea in just eight days. This will be their fourth fixture in eleven days, and with the tie on ice you couldn't blame Pep Guardiola from resting his star men.
There is certainly history behind this ideology - Guardiola made several changes ahead of the final group fixture against Shakhtar Donetsk. The main question here is whether you believe that City's second-string lineup is capable of defeating FC Basel, and you can't be blamed for thinking that they could still win comfortably. The match against Shakhtar was also away from home, which would have been slightly more difficult.
So, without sitting on the fence, we are still confident that City will be far too strong regardless of the side that Guardiola sends out. Momentum is a funny thing in football, and the boss will not wish to head into the crucial quarter-final stage after a mediocre defeat. Expect Manchester City to win, although don't expect to get a decent amount back for your wager.Take Manchester City (-550)
Champions League Outright Odds
We're already more than halfway through the round of 16 matches, and it's becoming ever so slightly more clear who will be heading to the quarters. The odds in the outright market are changing all the time, and if you believe you know which side is going to lift this year's trophy, now is the time to act.
Manchester City currently leads the race at +299 although as dominant as the Citizens have been they have never claimed the Champions League trophy. While there is a first time for everything, clubs with prior wins in the tournament should still be considered a better chance.
Bayern Munich and Barcelona are both in excess of +400, and they are a huge chance of winning the tournament, while a team like Manchester United should not be discounted despite being ranked a +1700 chance.
Likewise, if you think Juventus can win in London, they will drop in price considerably. Spurs would arguably be still seen as outsiders if they manage to progress, although neither team will appear as high in price as they do right now.
Realistically though, any one of eight teams who progress to the quarter finals can lift this season's trophy, so put your money down now and cross those fingers!
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The European Super League (ESL) was supposed to be the breakaway club for top European football clubs, the likes of Manchester United, Real Madrid, and Liverpool to name a few.
The full list of Super League clubs:
- English - Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham.
- Spanish - Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Real Madrid.
- Italian - AC Milan, Inter Milan, Juventus.
However, plans broke down the very next day after the featured clubs made the announcement, led by Real Madrid’s Florentino Perez. Perez has been defiant in the face of big clubs like Juventus and Manchester City dropping out, with the governing body FIFA also threatening to ban teams from their domestic leagues.
The anger and frustration at the decision to go ahead with a Super League boiled over when fans of Premier League clubs Arsenal, Chelsea, and Tottenham held mass protests outside the relative stadiums. The announcement caused a wave of protest across Europe, as UEFA made it clear that all clubs involved would face repercussions if they were to go ahead and compete in the breakaway Super League.
But, what upset the fans so much and is the Super League really so different from the Champions League?