Champions League Betting: Four things to look out for this week

Things are getting ugly for Claudio Ranieri
Things are getting ugly for Claudio Ranieri
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After the Champions League made a thrilling return last week, James Horncastle takes a glance at the remaining games in the Round of 16 and picks out some betting angles...

"Porto are used to getting to this stage of the Champions League. They won't be fazed by it and memory serves to remind us that they upset Pep Guardiola's Bayern at the Dragao not too long ago. Roma lost here in the Champions League play-offs earlier in the season and Leicester, the English champions, got obliterated 5-0."

It ain't over until the Old Lady sings


Max Allegri has attempted to push back against the narrative that Juventus are overwhelming favourites in this tie. He has been very respectful of Porto's history, noting their winning tradition in this competition and how they have won it as many times as Juventus. Porto are used to getting to this stage of the Champions League. They won't be fazed by it and memory serves to remind us that they upset Pep Guardiola's Bayern at the Dragao not too long ago. Roma lost here in the Champions League play-offs earlier in the season and Leicester, the English champions, got obliterated 5-0.

But Juventus must seize this opportunity. There is a growing sense that the gap between them and the teams that have established themselves as automatic and outright favourites over the last three or four years is closing. While it might sound strange to say it after their performances last week, Real Madrid and Bayern are not what they once were. They remain outstanding sides, but are not hitting the same unreachable levels of performances of yesteryear. You can still get Juventus @ 9.89/1 to win this season's Champions League. At those odds, they are definitely worth a punt.


City can't take Monaco lightly


"The best way to prepare for Man City," Almamy Touré explained, "is to beat Bastia." But Monaco drew 1-1 in Corsica on Friday night and much-coveted midfielder Tiémoué Bakayoko had to go off at half-time with a knee injury. Hardly ideal preparation, you might say, for Wednesday's visit to the Etihad. Still the market doesn't seem to be taking Monaco serious enough. The Ligue 1 leaders have scored more than 100 goals this season and can defend too. Leonardo Jardim has attained the perfect balance. Victorious at Wembley against Spurs in the group stage and at the Emirates against Arsenal at this juncture two years ago, City will have to be careful.

This is a classic trap game. Whether City can hit the same heights they showed against Barcelona in November remains to be seen, but they'll need something of the sort to get past this Monaco side. How City defend will be important. There remains little faith in their backline, although three clean sheets in four games should perhaps make people re-consider. Is it good enough for this level, though? Monaco will certainly put it under severe scrutiny. Take them to qualify @ 3.052/1.


The Barbers of Seville


The Champions League has acted both as a reward and an escape for Leicester this season. Aside from the win against Manchester City in December, their performances in Europe have been the only ones reminiscent of how they played last year. Leicester became the first team to finish top of their group on their debut in this competition since Malaga four years ago. Their defence was the best in the Champions League, a record they shared with Atletico Madrid. That is, until the final Match Day when their Premier League form caught up with them in Portugal where they got smashed 5-0 by Porto.

Every runner-up wanted to draw Leicester in the Round of 16. By contrast, no group winner wanted to face Sevilla. An awkward team to play and one with formidable knock-out pedigree, they were second in La Liga until their loss to Espanyol a fortnight ago. Fast and loose in Spain, Sevilla show a different side to themselves in Europe. They kept five clean sheets in six games. Considering how Leicester remain the only team still yet to score a league goal in England's top four divisions in 2017, back Sevilla goalkeeper Sergio Rico to go unbeaten again at 17/20 on the Sportsbook.


Goals in Leverkusen


This was a tight encounter when Leverkusen and Atleti last met two years ago. Both won their home games 1-0 and ultimately it came down to penalties. Will it be any different this time around? Well, Leverkusen have struggled for consistency this season however they are beginning to pick up a bit of form. Friday's win against Augsburg saw them go back-to-back for the first time since the beginning of November and the goals are coming freely. Karim Bellarabi scored the Bundesliga's 50,000th goal and Chicharito also got a brace. Atleti, meanwhile, also seem to be coming good. They blew Sporting Gijon away at the weekend. Kevin Gameiro scored the fastest hat-trick in La Liga since Bebeto's for Depor back in 1995. Antoine Griezmann's pass for his first was delicious. The two of them and Yannick Ferreira Carrasco will no doubt give a notoriously leaky Leverkusen defence a lot to think about. Back both teams to score @ 2.166/5.


Recommended Bets
Back Juventus in the outright winner market @ 9.89/1
Back Monaco to Qualify v Man City @ 3.052/1
Back Sevilla Clean Sheet v Leicester @ 17/20 (Sportsbook)
Back Both Teams to Score in Bayer Leverkusen and v Atletico Madrid @ 2.166/5

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