James Horncastle fancies a Javier Saviola-inspired Malaga to secure a draw at Porto and doesn't give Arsenal much of a prayer against a scintillating Bayern Munich...
"Saviola has caused Porto pain before, notably in the Clássico four years ago when his goal clinched victory."
"Pay attention, Porto!" declared Maisfutebol on Saturday. Malaga, their opponents in the Champions League on Tuesday night, had just beaten Athletic Bilbao 1-0.
Rather ominously the winning goal at the Rosaleda had come from a familiar foe: Javier Saviola, the former Benfica striker.
He has caused Porto pain before, notably in the Clássico four years ago when his goal clinched victory. That was the season of Benfica's last league championship triumph. Porto have won the last two.
Even if Saviola doesn't start in Portugal on Tuesday night, expect coach Manuel Pellegrini to pull the player nicknamed The Rabbit out of the proverbial hat at some stage. Benfica fans will no doubt be backing him to score at 4.03/1.
Porto will just be hoping El Conejo gets caught in their headlights.
Coach Vitor Pereira has brought them on a lot this season, helped in no small part by director of sport Antero Henrique and his network of 200 scouts around the world uncovering yet more new talent.
Summer signing Jackson Martinez has scored 24 goals in 26 games, among which there have been three in the Champions League in this his first season along the Douro. Known as Cha-Cha-Cha, Porto have danced to his tune as well as the rhythms of James Rodriguez and Joao Moutinho this year.
They have won every game at the Dragão this season except their last one, a 1-1 draw with Olhanense. Porto are without defeat throughout the current campaign in the Liga Sagres and played some of the best football of the Champions League group stages, only losing to Paris Saint-Germain when they'd already qualified for the knock-out rounds.
A Malaga win in Portugal is, as the market indicates at 5.1, quite fanciful. A draw on the other hand at 3.7 looks a decent bet.
Malaga surprised many particularly after the financial troubles they experienced in the summer when they were compelled to sell some of their best players, most notably Santi Cazorla to Arsenal, by then finishing top of a group that included AC Milan, Zenit St.Petersburg and Anderlecht.
One of only three teams yet to suffer defeat in the competition so far, Malaga kept three clean sheets and conceded only five goals in the group stages. Their goalkeeper Willy Caballero was Man of the Match in Saturday's 1-0 win against Bilbao, making a string of fine saves. And if he can carry his fine form into Tuesday's game then perhaps there's value to be had at backing this game to finish under 2.5 goals at 1.784/5.
It isn't expected to be quite as tight between Arsenal and Bayern Munich at the Emirates. Pessimism has pervaded North London.
A discernible pattern has begun to emerge with regard to Arsenal's record in knock-out competitions this season. So far they've been eliminated from the League Cup and the FA Cup by clubs beginning with B: first Bradford City then Blackburn Rovers on Saturday. It's coincidence, nothing more. But you get the sense the trend will continue against Bayern who are favourites to qualify at 1.241/4.
Staggeringly Bayern have won 85% of their games this season. Of the two teams to have beaten them, one, remarkably enough, is BATE Borisov. Attributable to a blackout, Arsenal will be hoping the Bavarian giants once again fall asleep on Tuesday night. It seems distinctly unlikely, though.
Watching Bayern overcome Wolfsburg 2-0 on Saturday, one thing in particular stood out. Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, wearing a curious pair of four-fingered gloves, didn't have a single save to make until a Diego free-kick came his way in the 77th minute. And get this, it was the first shot on Bayern's goal in over four hours of league football.
Given only Nordjaelland have averaged fewer shots per game than Arsenal in the Champions League so far this season and that Bayern have gone and kept 18 clean sheets on the road in all competitions, backing them to do the same again at 3.259/4would probably be worth your while too.