RB Leipzig v PSG
Tuesday August 18, 20:00
Live on BT Sport 1
Neymar scores...but so do Leipzig
PSG did things the hard way. It wasn't a big surprise that they conceded a goal against an Atalanta side who scores for fun, but it was perhaps a surprise that they didn't actually create that many clear-cut chances, that they left it so late to score their first, that they needed the intervention of an unlikely source in Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and that they would have been completely lost without the brilliant performance of Neymar.
Which brings us to the Brazilian star. He's often criticised for all manner of things from unnecessary showboating on the field to poor decisions off it, and I've criticised him myself on this very site, but he was really excellent against Atalanta. And it wasn't just his skill and technique, we all know about that. Rather, it was his determination, passion and never-say-die attitude that deserved the highest praise.
He could be in for a big game and having done everything but score against Atalanta, he may just be due a goal and though 11/10 on him scoring isn't exactly giving too much away for a tricky-looking Champions League semi-final, it's just about an acceptable price in a game that I'm finding somewhat hard to call.
But irrespective of the outcome, I think we'll get goals at both ends. PSG could have conceded a second before they fought back and could then have conceded a second even after they were 2-1 up, proof that their defence leaves a lot to be desired. Even the great Thiago Silva looks a bit past it, while RB Leipzig may be without Timo Werner who has since joined Chelsea, but still managed two against one of the meanest defences in world football in Atletico Madrid.
In a match where I wouldn't be surprised if we get yet another upset, those two selections look the way to go.
Lyon v Bayern Munich
Wednesday August 19, 20:00
Keep writing Lyon off at your peril. Surely Juve would overturn a 1-0 deficit from the first leg: they didn't. Surely Manchester City would brush aside a somewhat limited team with their all-star cast of players as 1/5 chances to win in 90 minutes: they didn't. We won't go into greater detail regarding the ins-and-outs of what Pep Guardiola in particular did wrong (his choice of 3-5-2 was bizarre to say the least and he left just about every one of his best creative players on the bench, and we'll leave it at that) but Lyon deserve plenty of credit rather than just making the point that City blew it.
Still, beating Bayern may be a step too far but there's a good option that covers both an unlikely win for the French and a scenario where Bayern go through anyway, and that's that Lyon strike first. They did so in both legs against Juve and again against Man City. It's really not impossible that they start strongly and score first (at an excellent price of 3/1) and that it either turns into a classic finishing 2-2 or something, or that Bayern fight back and end up winning quite comfortably against a side who would have spent a lot of energy in that win over City.
It's not for nothing that all of Bayern's last five games across three separate competitions- Bundesliga, German Cup (final) and Champions League- ended with over 3.5 goals and after what we've just said, it would be no surprise if it happened again, a 10/11 chance.