Champions League Betting: Barca back at the Bridge

Has Conte got Barca's number?
Has Conte got Barca's number?
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Unbeaten in the Champions League last week, the English sides face a sterner examination this time around, as James Horncastle discusses...

"Conte is one of the few managers around capable of levelling the playing field or tilting it in his team's favour with his tactical nous."

Conte's last stand

Antonio Conte believes Chelsea need to play the "perfect game" when Barcelona visit Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night.

Still undefeated in La Liga you have to salute the Catalans' defiance amid exaggerated reports of their demise in the summer. Yet again the treble is on and although they are not as spectacular as they were under Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique, Ernesto Valverde deserves so much credit for the calmness, resilience, and effectiveness he has brought to this Barcelona side.

The Blaugrana have come a long way in the last six months although it will be interesting to see, as we reach the business end of the season, whether their form away from home in the Champions League improves on what they showed in the group stages when their only wins came at the Camp Nou. Barcelona needed a Sebastian Coates own-goal to win at Sporting and drew 0-0 with Juventus and Olympiakos.

On the other hand, Chelsea didn't exactly impress at the Bridge either. Their only victory coming against Qarabag. They do play a style though that Spanish teams find awkward to play against.

Conte's Italy upset Spain at the Euros and while the circumstances are different here and there's Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez to contend with, he is one of the few managers around capable of levelling the playing field or tilting it in his team's favour with his tactical nous. The Blues are 3.65 to win on Tuesday night.

Where Eagles Dare

It's a shame Besiktas lost Cenk Tosun in the January transfer window. The Turkey international is a big loss. His performances in the Champions League group stage this season only aroused more Premier League interest and hardened Everton's resolve to beat the competition to his signature.

Tosun scored four and set up another two as Besiktas booked their place in the Round of 16 for the first time in their history. He has been replaced by Vagner Love. More is also expected of big summer signing Alvaro Negredo.

For now though it's Talisca making the difference for the Black Eagles. The Brazilian has started 2018 on fire no doubt with the World Cup firmly in mind. He has scored six in his last five appearances, and Besiktas will be hoping he can help them keep this tie alive for the second leg at the Vodafone Arena.

It won't be easy. Bayern are on a 13-game winning streak. But Besiktas will be confident of returning to Istanbul with an away goal and not for the reason you think. True, Manuel Neuer is still out but Sven Ulreich has performed well enough in his absence to make Jogi Low consider calling him up to the national team.

Even so, Bayern's habit of falling behind at home - Saturday's 2-1 win against Wolfsburg was the third such occasion in the Bavarian outfit's last four Bundesliga games at the Allianz Arena - makes the Both to Score market worth a look. Particularly with 'Yes' trading at 2.166/5.

Sevilla hitting form

The Exchange layers clearly don't expect Sevilla to stop United from arriving in this season's quarter-finals. The Red Devils are 1.392/5 to qualify for the last eight, which is short when you consider Sevilla's pedigree in knock-out competitions.

OK Eduardo Berizzo got the sack before Christmas and Vincenzo Montella lost the Seville derby in his first La Liga game. But results are now picking up for the Andalucians. Saturday's 2-1 win in the Canary Islands against Las Palmas was Sevilla's third in a row in all competitions. Pablo Sarabia was on the scoresheet once again and you can't help but feel this is going to be a complicated match-up for United.

Sevilla are such an anarchic team, they're hard to prepare for and the atmosphere at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on European nights is one of the best around. Sevilla knocked Atletico Madrid out of the Copa del Rey and are in the final after dumping out Leganes in the semis. That should serve as a warning to United.

A Rojiblancos win on Wednesday night is going for 3.1511/5.

Roma down pit

History tells us to write off Eastern European sides at this time of year. They're only just coming out of hibernation after long winter breaks and lack match rhythm.

Roma know better than to get complacent as they travel to Ukraine to play Shakhtar in a tie between two of this season's revelations in the Champions League. Shakhtar knocked Roma out at this stage seven years ago and didn't look rusty at all as the Ukrainian Premier League resumed at the weekend. The Pitmen blew Chornomorets Odessa away 5-0 with Facundo Ferreyra and Marlos bagging a brace each.

Unlike Besiktas, Shakhtar lost no one in the January transfer window. Manchester City couldn't get a deal done for Fred and Paulo Fonseca turned Everton down before Sam Allardyce ended up at Goodison Park. Shakhtar finished the group stage with a perfect record at home. They upset Napoli and were the first team to beat Champions League favourites Manchester City this season.

Roma know this is going to be tricky. But at least they travel to Kharkiv in form. Saturday's 2-0 win away to Udinese was their third in the row and it looks like Monchi has unearthed a real gem in Cenghiz Ünder. Roma should be fitter than Shakhtar and will represent a tougher opponent than Odessa. It promises to be a tight affair.

Take Roma on Double Chance @ 1.625/8.

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