Bayern Munich will show Arsenal no mercy despite their 3-1 advantage from the first leg, while Porto's defensive resolve will mean a low scoring encounter at Malaga, says European football expert James Horncastle as he previews Wednesday night's Champions League games
"So dominant have Bayern been in the Champions League in the current campaign that they have been winning both at half-time and full-time in five of their last seven matches in the competition. Back them to do the same on Wednesday at 2.0811/10."
Bayern Munich v Arsenal
Kick Off: 19:45
TV: Live on Sky Sports 2
"It will be difficult, but let's try to make the impossible, possible," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said, after his side's 3-1 defeat to Bayern Munich at the Emirates last month in the first leg of their last 16 Champions League tie.
Just how difficult is clear from the history of this competition. Since the European Cup began only seven teams have managed to successfully overturn a first leg defeat at home. They are Milan in 1955, Ajax in 1969, Nottingham Forest in 1980, Steaua Bucharest in 1994, Ajax once again in 1996 and Inter in 2011.
It's a staggeringly low number and, as if any further confirmation were needed, amply demonstrates the size of the task facing Arsenal at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday night. The Exchange understandably has them at 38.037/1 to qualify.
Arsenal must hope for the kind of blackout Bayern suffered in October when they lost 3-1 to BATE Borisov, a result that looks like an aberration within the context of the rest of their record-breaking season.
It did look for a while as though they might slip up on Saturday. Twice Bayern fell behind at home to Fortuna Dusseldorf. And if Wenger and his players were watching, which seems likely given they didn't play this weekend and are well-rested for the trip to Munich, then they would have been encouraged right up until the 74th minute. For that's when Franck Ribery equalised again and Dusseldorf's belief in an unlikely win ended. Jerome Boateng would get the winner four minutes from time to seal Bayern's fifteenth straight victory.
It all must have been pretty soul-destroying for those Arsenal players who did perhaps tune in. This Bayern, it seems, are never beaten.
"Last season we would have lost this kind of match," goalkeeper Manuel Neuer said. "Our cohesion is exceptional."
That doesn't bode well for Arsenal who wish to replicate the second leg showing they put on against Milan this time last season when they won 3-0 at the Emirates and improbably threatened to take the tie to extra-time after a 4-0 first leg defeat at San Siro. Bayern, as Neuer alluded to, have a resilience about them, however, a mental strength that makes the prospect of this happening distinctly unlikely.
They've lost just once at home all season and have never conceded more than two in a game. So dominant have they been in the Champions League in the current campaign that they have been winning both at half-time and full-time in five of their last seven matches in the competition. Back them to do the same on Wednesday at 2.0811/10.
Recommended Bet: Bayern Munich/Bayern Munich in the HT/FT market at 2.0811/10
Malaga v Porto
Kick Off: 19:45
TV: Live on Sky Sports 4
Elsewhere in Europe things are much more delicately poised between Malaga and Porto. This is certainly the more intriguing of Wednesday night's ties. Porto take a 1-0 lead to the Rosaleda and might be made to regret not making more of the possession they had at the Dragao. Joao Moutinho's goal, the one that separates them, should have been ruled out for offside too.
"Our first goal was to win. Our second goal was not to concede," Porto coach Vitor Pereira said after the first leg. "But after the great quality match that we played from the first to the last minute, I think we deserved a second goal. I'm not completely satisfied in that we couldn't get a goal to make it 2-0; that would have been a fairer reflection of what happened on the pitch."
Alas, it wasn't to be and Malaga were let off the hook. "The scoreline is one we can turn around," insisted coach Manuel Pellegrini. "Returning to our own stadium we will be confident of reversing the situation."
Malaga have yet to lose at home in this their maiden Champions League campaign. Their record stands at three wins and one draw.
That said, they haven't won any of their last four games in all competitions, scoring just the once. Their potent left-hand side, crucial to the team's balance, is no longer what it once was following the sale of Nacho Monreal to Arsenal and the injury suffered by Eliseu.
Attacking isn't coming as easy as did earlier in the season. In Pellegrini's words Malaga "played very badly offensively" in Oporto. "We wanted to be offensive," he said, "but Porto wouldn't allow us to be."
Star players Isco and Joaquin were rested at the weekend. Porto, however, will trust in their ability to go to the Rosaleda, get an away goal and preserve their advantage. They've kept seven clean sheets from nine Champions League matches this season and can be backed to record another one at 3.412/5. Under 1.5 goals also has an attraction at 3.259/4.
Recommended Bet: Under 1.5 Goals at 3.259/4